Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thankful "G"

GIRLS - I absolutely love raising little girls...at least so far. :) People say they can be extremely difficult when they become teenagers, but I hope my girls will stay their sweet, tenderhearted selves as they grow up. My two are both so talented and so different. One is gentle, easy to please, very creative and loves to read. One is spunky, very opinionated, a little storyteller, and loves sports. I cherish these two treasures that the Lord has given me for a season and I cannot wait to see the women they will become!

GIRLFRIENDS - I have always longed for a girlfriend. Growing up they were few and far between. This very long year of cancer treatment has given me the desire to be a better friend, and to love more the girlfriends that God has placed in my life. I am very much a homebody and content to be with my family, but I am so, so grateful for the unique friendships God has given me. I have my sisters, who are my closest girlfriends in the world. I have a couple of friends from high school and college that I keep in contact with. I have some women in my church who I love dearly and who are so good to me. I even have some Dillon adoptive moms (only 1 I've ever met) who may never know what an encouragement they have been to me this past 2 years. Some on the phone, some through e-mails, and some just through comments on this blog. God created us for relationship and I am so glad He has been so gracious to me!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thankful "F"

FLIP-FLOPS - These are my favorite shoes! I would love to have some in every color and I would gladly wear them year round! They are universal! You can wear them with jeans, a dress, shorts. If you buy them with sparkles, you can even wear them with a fancy dress! What is not to love about flip-flops?

FALL - Fall is my favorite time of year. I love when the weather starts to have that crisp, cool feeling and the leaves begin to turn shades of gold and red! Something about the clarity of the blue sky and all the vibrant color makes me feel closer to the Lord somehow. It is a reminder to me of the beauty of God's creation and His care for us. It is during this time that I sometimes wonder what Heaven will look like. If God created our world in just 7 days, I cannot even begin to imagine what He has created in about 7000 years!

FAMILY FUN FRIDAYS - This is what we call it at our house on Friday nights. We celebrate the fact that there is no school the next day and we party. We have supper, maybe play a game or put on a show, we make pallets on the floor and couches in the living room, and everyone falls asleep watching a movie! Of course, Mommy, stays awake to tuck everyone in and then I head to my bed to sleep. :) This has been our tradition for a couple of years now. Sometimes we have friends or cousins that join us and sometimes it's just us. Micah has always slept in his bed, but now feels that he is old enough to join everyone else on the floor, so we have let him. Of course he LOVES it! I look forward to many more years of Family Fun Fridays to come!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thankful "E"

EVENING - I am thankful for evenings. That is my favorite time of day. I love sitting out on our porch swing and watching the clouds roll by, the storms move in, or the sun setting behind the hills. It also means that it is almost time for bed, which I look forward to now more than I used to. :)

ECHOS - I guess it seems a little weird that I am thankful for Echocardiograms, but I am. Just a year ago, I did not know what they were or what they were for. Tomorrow I will go in for my 4th this year. It has been comforting to have the guess work taken away and know for sure that my heart is staying strong through this year of treatment.

ELVES - Yes, elves...or 1 in particular. Our elf's name is Pepper and he came to our house last year for the first time. He brought a lot of fun when he came and he is doing the same this year. Because of him, I know what our kids want for Christmas and I have enjoyed watching Micah wake up each morning and get excited when he realizes that Pepper has moved locations during the night. Hopefully Pepper will keep coming back for many Christmases to come!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thankful "D"

DAVID - I love my husband, David! We are total opposites, but somehow God brought us together. I am thankful for David's patience with me, I am proud of his talents and abilities, I love the father that he is to our children, and I am looking forward to what the Lord will do in our future together!

DADDY - I love my Daddy! I guess no matter how old I get (and today I am another year older) I will always feel like "Daddy's little girl" when he is around. My Daddy has always loved me, guided me, and taught me, and I feel loved, safe, and secure in his presence. I am grateful that God placed me in my family!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thankful "C"

CHRISTMAS - I love everything about Christmas! I love the food, the music, the lights, the message, the spirit! This year, for some reason, it has all had a particularly calming effect on me and I am grateful. I have even given in and done something that I said I would never do...I have put an inflatable snowman in my front yard! I guess having kids changes everything. :)

CHOCOLATE - Chocolate is my friend. Let me introduce you to Five Layer Chocolate Cake, Dark Chocolate York Patties, Breyer's Extra-Creamy Chocolate Ice-Cream, Chocolate No-Bake Cookies...you get the idea. I salute whoever figured out that you can grind up a cocoa bean and make something so delicious!

COMPASSION - I love the ministry of Compassion International! I am thankful for the work they do in countries where I will never be able to go. Someday I hope to be able to travel to Africa and back to India to visit the little girls that we sponsor. To see all that Compassion does, please check out their web site at Compassion.com. They also have an area for kids where they can play games and learn about how kids in other countries live. An awesome book that you can read about their president is called "Too Small to Ignore," by Wes Stafford. I hope you will check it out.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thankful "B"

BOYS - There is just something about Momma's little boys. :) It's so special to me when one of my boys comes over on his own and gives me a big hug and kiss and says, "I love you, Mommy!" I don't know how long it will last, but I am cherishing it now. Nathan is at the stage now, Kindergarten, where he is still very affectionate and doesn't think much about it. However, he has started not wanting to "give hugs" to others so much and for the first time last week when I leaned over to kiss his forehead, he said, "Mom, don't let Paige (his cousin who was over at our house) see you do that!" Oh well, I will do it for as long as I can! Micah (2 1/2) is at that fun stage where he is figuring out that there is a difference between the sexes. He will state, "You a gil and I a boy." I'm so thankful that I have gotten the chance to experience the joys of raising little boys!

BOOKS - Of course this was a no-brainer. :) I am thankful for the authors who share their stories! I have always been an avid reader, but as our family has grown and lives have gotten busy, my chances to read for pleasure have gotten fewer and far between. One thing this year of cancer treatment has given me, is the opportunity to pick my books back up...which I have done with a vengeance! I have been carrying books in the car, books in my bedroom, books in my bag. Now that I have a Kindle, which I am enjoying by the way, my bags are much less heavy! :) Besides just reading books, I feel strangely that God has placed the desire in my heart to write a book (or several) someday. It must be from God, because this is the same girl who failed Freshman English in college because I was so fearful of writing, I would not write the papers. I am waiting to see what God will do with this desire, and while I wait...I am reading a book!

BIRTHDAYS - On December 14 it will be 1 year from my cancer diagnosis. Next week is my birthday. What a year it has been. Needless to say, I am super thankful for this birthday! I have learned so much this year about myself, my Heavenly Father, my priorities, etc. I am grateful to be where I am at this moment and I am looking forward to what this next year will bring!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thankful "A"

ADOPTION - This is probably an obvious one. :) I cannot even begin to describe how adoption has changed our lives forever. It has changed us as individuals in the way we think about people. It has changed us forever as a family. It has changed our relationship with and our trust in our Heavenly Father. We will forever be grateful that we followed God's heart and took the step of faith to adopt!

ANGELS - I am grateful for Angels. In a world filled with craziness, it seems comforting somehow to know that there are Angels walking among us. I think it also reminds us to stop a moment in our busy lives and show a little kindness to strangers that we meet. "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2

Loss for Words

I can't believe that it has been over a month since I have written anything, but I have been at a loss for words. For me that is saying something. :) I'm not sure why, but my soul has been restless and my ability to put it into words just has not been there. My emotions have been on edge and I feel very unsettled. Maybe it's the medication...it seems like I am using that one a lot lately. Whatever the reason, I have wanted to write but have been unable to find the words. There are sudden random things that I've seen or heard that cause a sense of peace and gratefulness to wash over me...a rainbow, a Christmas song, a kiss from my little boy, etc. So, I decided I am going to just take time to voice my gratefulness for the small things that I am thankful for. I thought it would be fun to try something that another "Dillon Mom" did on her blog a year or two ago. She did a blog for each letter of the alphabet. So, for each day leading up to Christmas I am going to try it, starting with "A" for today!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Magical!

I'll give you one guess as to where we went for Fall Break this year. You are right! Disney World! It was our first trip ever and it surpassed our expectations. David and I were afraid it would not live up to years of expectation, but we were not disappointed by anything. It truly was a "magical" time!

The theatre side of David wanted to explore the Classic Mickey side of Hollywood Studios a little more than we had time for. He also loved all the puppetry and shows at Animal Kingdom. Especially the "Nemo" show. I would love to go back to Epcot and spend a little more time there. I love all the different worlds and would like to try more food. The kids were not interested in sampling food from around the world. ;) The girls favorites were "Rockin Roller Coaster" at Hollywood Studios and "Soarin" at Epcot. Nathan liked "Soarin" also and "Toy Story" at Hollywood Studios. Of course the "Jungle Safari" at Animal Kingdom was a favorite for everyone.

Micah on the other hand...it's hard to know what he will remember from the trip. We know he enjoyed it. Especially the characters. He loved the princesses and even pushed Emma out of the way so that he could hold Cinderella's hand for the photo! He talks about different things he saw and experienced. He remember being spit on by the camel on the Alladin ride. He keeps asking to ride on the bus and swim at the hotel again. There were a few things, however, where he missed it by just a bit and cracked us up! He keeps saying he rode "Gumbo." We finally figured out that he was talking about the "Dumbo" ride. After watching the "Playhouse Disney Show" at Hollywood Studios (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Pooh, and Little Einstiens), David asked him what part he liked best. Micah says, "Scooby Doo!" On the "Jungle Safari," while we were admiring all the exotic animals, Micah asks, "You smell somping Mommy?" I asked, "Why? What do you smell, Micah?" To which he replies, "Smells like cow poop everywhere!" His great sense of smell was crowding out all of his other senses I guess. :)

Now, I don't find a spiritual allusion in everything, but I could not help but think about our view of Heaven. I tread here softly. I never thought twice about talking about Heaven before, but since being hit with the very real possibility that I could go before I anticipated, I am a little more hesitant now about just throwing things out there. I am also not comparing Heaven to Disney World, but these thoughts came to mind this morning. Yesterday I heard the verse in I Corinthians 2:9. "No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him!" Just like Disney, we had heard stories about it and had pictures in our mind, but we could never have anticipated fully what we were about to see and experience. It is the same way with Heaven. We just have no idea and cannot even imagine. Just like Micah, our vision is clouded by our senses, our experiences, and our humanness here on earth. I'm sure some times we miss it all together. I wonder if Jesus just looks down and smiles and thinks, "Won't they be surprised?" All I can say is on our trip to Disney, we truly felt like we had been transported to a magical world. :) I can't even begin to imagine what Heaven is going to be like!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Aunt Julie

Today as we begin our first ever family vacation into a new world...Disney World...I am also remembering my Aunt Julie who is beginning her first full day in a new world...in Heaven with Jesus! :) Yesterday as we were driving down, we received the news that she had passed away. She had been fighting with cancer for a while and it was just spreading faster than she could stop it. As we were shedding tears of sadness each time we heard news of the cancer spreading, we also shed tears of joy as we heard about her new-found joy in Christ. Julie accepted Christ as her Saviour this year and she was transformed! She was so full of joy and peace, even in the midst of her storm! She radiated her love for God and the promise of the new life He would give to her. She had such a sweet spirit and a heart for others.

Over the last couple of months, Julie and I had e-mailed each other on a more personal note. Since I had begun my journey through breast cancer this year, we were sharing in a fight against this awful disease. Julie was never afraid for herself. She was always encouraging and praying for me and my family. I wanted to let you see just a brief glance into her precious, transformed life. This was one of her last e-mails to me...

Dear Sweet Candice,
I have been thinking of you today too. I pray for you and family everyday.
Thank you so much for checking on me , I love you guys!
I rededicated my life to our Lord Jesus Christ Today and John & I joined the church!
I will be Baptized the following Sunday @ 6pm!
I am so happy and overfilled with joy, All to the Glory of God, He is wonderful!
I pray for the healing of your body, your emotional well being and for you and David to have more family time together also that you will be able to raise your children in the will of Lord Jesus Christ! And wow! When you believe in the All Powerful Heavenly Father, well you just claim it, because He is alive and He will take care of you!
I love you too,
Aunt Julie

I love you too, Aunt Julie and I will see you again in Heaven someday!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blood:Water Mission

Blood:Water Mission is an organization run by the contemporary christian music group "Jars of Clay." Their desire is to raise funds to help with the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa by helping to provide clean drinking water for the people in Africa. So, what does that have to do with us? Sometimes it's hard to look beyond our little worlds that we have created for ourselves and see the World as God sees it. We are His children, created in His image, and He has called us to care for each other.

Well, some of my friends are doing just that. Ordinary (I think extraordinary) people just like you and me that made a committment at the beginning of the year that they were going to run a marathon (26.2 miles) in November. None of them were runners, but they started with running a mile together each Saturday morning and have worked up to running 20 miles this last Saturday! They just decided together to do something bigger than themselves for someone who could not help themself. My friends call themselves the H2o Runners and they are trying to raise $7000 ($1000 for each man and woman running) for Blood:Water Mission. To date they have raised $1700. If you click on the link, it will take you to their blog site. There you can meet the runners, read about their vision, follow along on their Saturday runs, and donate to the cause. You can mail in a check or donate securely online. It does not take much...
  • $1 gives clean drinking water to someone in Africa for a year.
  • $25 gives clean drinking water to someone in Africa for life.
  • $85 provides a family with a biosand filter to clean their water .
  • $4000 builds the community a well and provides clean water for hundreds!

I am so proud of my friends and if you can join the fight, please consider a donation in their honor!


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Club

I don't know if you can tell, but I LOVE to read! I don't get a lot of chances to just sit and read with 4 kids, but I carry a book with me everywhere...in my purse, in my car (for reading in carline), by my bed, etc. I have almost decided for sure to get myself a Kindle for my birthday. As much as I love reading the written page, it would be nice to just slide that little screen into a bag and have as many books as I want at my fingertips without having to lug the actual copies everywhere. :)

This week I have decided to try 2 new things.
  1. First, on the first Friday of each month, I think I will post a book review of a book I have read this year. This will be just for fun for me and maybe it will encourage someone else to pick up one of the books for reading. Then it's like I have passed my book along to someone else without having to give up my copy! :)
  2. Second, I have joined an online Christian book club! The "Bring the Rain" blog (I have a link posted at the side) does a Bloom Book Club and this month, I will be reading my first book with them. It is called "Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives," by Wayne Muller. How did they know I needed this book right now? :)
So, I have my books and I, strangely enough, look forward to carline, soccer practice, choir practice, my weekly treatments at the doctor's office, and anywhere else I might have a few minutes to read a chapter uninterrupted!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Mom's Prayer

I am very proud of my kids. I feel so grateful to get to be their mom. As rewarding as it is, it is equally daunting. I want to fulfill the role God has allowed me to play in their lives and raise them up to bring Him glory. It's a little overwhelming to think of all the mistakes I make each day. I am so thankful that the Lord has His hand on them and is not completely dependent on me. :)

As they are growing up (too quickly I might add), we are beginning to have some interesting conversations about their futures. As much as I can, I keep telling them..."Be still and listen to what God is saying to your heart. Look for what you enjoy and the gifts God has given you. Think of how you can use these things to serve God and others." That is this mom's prayer for her children.
  • HALLIE asked me this week about where we wanted her to go to college. She is just in middle school! Hallie has a sweet spirit and wants to please. I am excited to see where God leads her. This week she made her middle school soccer team and played her trumpet in her first pep rally! She already says that she wants to spend a year in China or Japan teaching English and then come home to teach ESL in a middle school or high school. We'll see...
  • EMMA is such a little mix of everything. She loves to play dress-up and is the one concerned about her clothes. However, she is my little athlete. She is running cross-country and is excited to try out for her school basketball team. Right now she is playing rec soccer and taking piano lessons. Emma is very tender right now and hears God speak to her heart...and she obeys. I pray this is always the case.
  • NATHAN asked me this afternoon how he would choose who to marry. He has so many options right now. :) Deep thoughts for a little boy in Kindergarten. He also asked me if he could have 2 jobs when he turns 16. I said, "Of course." "Good," he said, "I want to work at Taco Bell and be a spy." Wow! I love this little boy. He has struggled with illness all of his life, but does not let it stop him. He loves popcorn, Scooby-Doo movies and his mommy! He is a very loving little boy and I pray He will be a strong, loving man of God.
  • MICAH is our precious gift from India. Brought across the ocean to be a part of our family. He is so strong and smart and polite. Yes, I said polite. :) I know it sounds wierd, but he is the politest 2 year old I have every met. We have been changed so much since his arrival and I know God has a special plan for his life. I can't wait to see how God uses his little life.
So, I pray and plug away. Doing laundry, making lunches, driving carpool, going to games...doing the things a mother does...and praying that each day I have them with me, they will fulfill God's purpose for their lives!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

5K Walk/Run

Breast cancer is not something I would have ever chosen to go through. It is an elite club of courageous women (and sometimes men) and not a club I ever aspired to join. I always had sympathy from afar, but it was never personal. Now it's different.

Today I participated in my first ever Susan G Komen Race for the Cure with my husband and my 2 daughters! We met up with my husband's brother and wife and their little girl so we could share this opportunity with them. While my husband and his brother ran the 5K, the girls and I walked the first mile and 1/2 and then jogged a mile and 1/2. It was so fun to be able to do this with my girls. My goal is to be able to run the 5K next year.

It was such a fun afternoon. Just being in that atmosphere with 10,000 other participants all supporting the same cause. As survivors, we wore the pink t-shirts and baseball caps. They put a ribbon on your cap for each year that you come back to the race. They also give you hot pink Mardi gras beads for each year that you are a survivor. I got "1!" It was cool passing other women in pink with tons of beads hanging around their necks!

The only sad part for me was seeing the teams who were walking in memory of loved ones. There was one team there walking for a friend of a friend who died last year. She was my age and had small children. Although it was sad, it was also such an awesome way to honor her memory and to see how much she was loved!

So, I have completed my first breast cancer walk and survived! I may not be able to walk tomorrow, but it was worth it! :) I can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Doctor Update

Today was my 8 week visit with my doctor. I used to go every 3 weeks while on chemo, but after that was finished, I just go every now and then for a check-up. I continue to take my Herceptin every week with echocardiograms every 3 months. This will last until February. So far, all is going well. Aside from the aches and pains which can be handled somewhat with Aleve, and besides the numbness in my toes and stiffness in my fingers, I am good. :)

Today as the doctor listened to my heart, he asked if I worked out. Not sure why he was asking, I asked, "Why?" He said that my heart rate was good, but in the range that they usually saw in athletes or people who work out a lot. I had to laugh. Unless you count chasing around 4 kids, I have not exercised in over 10 years! :) The nurse just laughed and then the doctor left the room to go check my most recent echocardiogram. When he returned, he said all was well and it had even gone up a couple of points. I had to ask what that meant, and he just said that it meant my heart had improved from 3 months ago. Could it have been from my new found determination to use the treadmill? I did jog a mile every morning for 2 weeks straight and then caught a really bad cold and had to stop for the last 2 weeks since I could hardly breathe. I just started back up on Monday. My only explanation for the improved results was that my heart must have been in shock from the sudden exercise after all these years! :)

Needless to say, I am grateful for the good news and all the continued prayers. We will keep plugging away each week with my treatments until February, and then we will tackle the reconstructive surgery and all that goes along with that. Hopefully, I will be done with everything by next summer. It's something to look forward to.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Book Signing

This morning I went to my first ever book signing. Who do you think could make me get up early on a Saturday morning and miss my daughter's soccer game? Francine Rivers! I LOVE to read and she is one of my most favorite fiction writers.

The only decision I had to make was which of her books to take to the signing. :) I love that a lot of her fiction is taking stories of real people and events from scripture and making them come alive in a different time period. A lot of her books have made me fall in love with the Biblical stories all over again. Of course her book, Redeeming Love, is one of my favorites, so I took that one. While there, I also picked up her two latest books, Her Mother's Hope and Her Daughter's Dream for her to sign. Since I am very close to my mother and sisters, I can't wait to read them! If you have never read any of Francine's books I encourage you to buy one and get started! You will love them!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

God's Children

I love how sometimes God speaks to others and then, through their re-telling, He speaks to me! That has happened to me twice this week!

I was at a birthday party and was talking with my friend, Chrystal. She and her husband have 1 little girl and have been talking about adopting a child through domestic adoption. As is almost always the case in families I talk to (my husband included) the husbands are not quite as ready to adopt. They are hesitant to make such a big step and have lots of questions. As they talked about adoption last week, the husband asked, "What if our child decides to look for their birth parent when they turn 18? Wouldn't that make you feel like it was all a loss?" I LOVE Chrystal's answer! She said, (in my paraphrase,) "You know, ALL our children are God's children. Whether they are adopted or biological, we have been given them to care for and train for a season!"

How awesome is that? I mean I've known that my whole life, but somehow the way she worded it just opened my eyes anew to the fact. It does not matter whether I birthed my child or adopted him/her. It does not matter if they are my race or another race. "My" child is not "mine." He/She is God's child and He has loaned them to me for a season. What a privilage to be able to kiss, hug, teach, and lead one of God's precious children!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Heaven

This month has been a very difficult one for me, emotionally and physically. For some reason I am aching from head to toe. It hurts to sleep if you can imagine that. Even my fingers hurt. They have told me that the Herceptin can make you ache and feel like your body is 90 years old, so maybe that's it.

Emotionally things have been difficult as well. My husband and I are trying to find some normalcy in our new life, and I'm very tired and cranky with the kids I think. In the last month my neighbor's husband across the street died from cancer, my neighbor up the street was just diagnosed with cancer and told he probably won't live till Christmas, my husband's uncle's wife is struggling with cancer and just got news that it has spread, a woman in our church just started her chemo for breast cancer, and a childhood friend was just diagnosed with inoperable cancer. I know it is everywhere, but the news can be overwhelming when you are in the middle of it still yourself. Needless to say, I am grateful for the hope of Heaven!

Don Piper's book, "90 Minutes in Heaven," gives one of the most beautiful descriptions of Heaven I have ever read. My family and I are music lovers, so his description of the music in Heaven just melts my heart. I can't type the whole chapter here, but here is a snipit!
"It was the most beautiful and pleasant sound I've ever heard, and it didn't stop. It was like a song that goes on forever. I didn't just hear music. It seemed as if I were part of the music--and it played in and through my body. I stood still, and yet I felt embraced by the sounds.
The praise was unending...hundreds of songs were being sung at the same time--all of them worshipping God. If we played 3 cd's of praise at the same time, we'd have a cacophony of noise that would drive us crazy. This was totally different. Every sound (voice, instrument, the swoosh of angel wings) blended, and enhanced the others.
I couldn't calculate the number of songs--perhaps thousands--offered up simultaneously, and yet there was no chaos, because I had the capacity to hear each one and discern the lyrics and melody. I marveled at the glorious music."

Then I looked again, and I heard the singing of thousands and millions of angels
around the throne and the living beings and the elders.
Revelation 5:11

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Growing Up


On the night before my kids head back to school tomorrow, I am feeling a little nostalgic. My girls are growing up too quickly. This summer, they both had birthdays. Emma turned 9 and Hallie turned 11. Tomorrow Emma will start 4th grade. She gets to move to the "big kids" wing of the school and this year she will rotate teachers and classrooms. Hallie will be heading to Middle School tomorrow. I can't believe the day has come. I'm a little panicked. I want to say, "Hey wait a minute. I'm not ready. I think I will home school you for the next 3 years." :) On the other hand, I am excited to watch her grow and see the young lady she will become. So much change is going to take place in both girls this year.
Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of my girls.
I am truly blessed!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Days

I love these summer days! Summer is extra special for us since my husband is a teacher and he gets the summer off too. The kids love having their Daddy home with them for a while. At the same time, by the end of the summer, we are all ready for the routine that school days bring.

We have had a very relaxing summer, but one filled with all things medical. :) Since my chemo ended in June, Emma has started all her stuff at the orthodontist, Hallie is continuing hers, and Hallie and Nathan have both had their tonsils and adenoids removed. Tomorrow I have my first consult with a plastic surgeon to talk about my reconstruction. I have decided to put the surgery off until February when my treatments are over. I did not relish doing both at the same time.

So, for another week and 1/2 we will rest, recoup, and try to enjoy these last hot, lazy days of summer break.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Favorite Memories

For those who wanted to see it, here is my "finished" bracelet! I put finished in quotes because it's really not done yet I think. I plan to add a few charms here and there as I find things that represent some of my favorite memories.

The little suitcase charm actually opens! On the front it says Italy and Paris. My husband and I actually went to Florence, Rome and Paris together about 3 years ago and it was amazing! It was my first trip overseas and I loved it!

The soccer ball charm with the heart on it doesn't need that much explanation. My husband played soccer growing up and our kids have been playing since they were about 4 years old. We love to go as a family and cheer each other on. It's one of my favorite things to do!

I guess all that's left for me to do is to keep living each day and making more memories with my friends and family!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Final Beads

Now that I am a few weeks out from my last chemo, I finally felt like purchasing my last 2 beads for my "chemo" bracelet. A fellow Dillon mom, Amy, was so amazing and sent me a gift card to purchase my last bead. She sent enough that I was able to purchase a "C" charm for me too! Amy seems like an old friend to me, even though we have yet to meet in person. Our sons were in the same crib in India and we hope to reunite them again someday. I love that I have been so blessed and encouraged through my adoption journey and now through this cancer journey by the same group of women...and only 1 have I ever met in person. Someday I hope to change that and be able to give them a great big hug, but for now a "thank you" on the internet will have to suffice.

The blue bead is for Nathan, my first baby boy! He is such a joy to me and I have found it to be true that a little boy does hold a special place in his mother's heart!

The brown bead is for Micah. When I saw the brown, coppery color I knew that was the one. It reminds me of the beautiful color of his skin. Words could never describe the gift from God that he has been to me and to our family!

And so, my 6 beads have been purchased...one for each chemo finished. I may purchase some more charms to further personalize the bracelet, but for now each time I wear the bracelet, I will be reminded of the 6 chemo rounds completed and the 6 reasons I am choosing to "fight like a girl,"...my family!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Walking on Water

This week I went to a new Internal Medicine doctor. I needed to get established as a new patient so that I have somewhere to go if I get sick. As she was asking all kinds of questions going through my medical history, she asked me if I had any depression or anxiety. I told her I had in the past, but not now. She seemed startled and asked, "Not at all? Not with all the cancer stuff you are going through?" I had to say, "No, not really." She then asked me why I thought that was. I told her I was not sure, but I just felt like my cancer was not a surprise to God, and that since He had allowed it, He must have a purpose, and He had promised to carry me through, so I was just trusting His promises. She thought that was great, and carried on with the appointment.

Fast forward to Sunday. At church we watched a video clip and I was reminded of the passage in Matthew 14:22-32 where Jesus and Peter walk on the water. In the midst of the storm, Peter walks on water...like he was floating...as long as he looked at Jesus. The second he looked away, he began to sink and be overwhelmed by the storm. Then it hit me. I think that is a great description of how I've felt. I cannot describe why I've had a peace in the midst of this storm except that I've tried to keep my eyes on Jesus. I have literally felt like I was "floating" through this storm, or like I was walking on water with the storm raging around me. I have no doubt that if I took my eyes off of Jesus and looked at my circumstances, that I would, in an instant, be drowning in grief, sorrow, fear of the unknown, confusion, anger, frustration, etc. Jesus told Peter, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid." In a way, I feel like He has said the same thing to me. So, I continue to move forward with baby steps. It's like I am walking on the water, through this storm, being held up by the gaze and arms of Jesus!

Friday, June 25, 2010

In the Mean Time

Finished last chemo. Feeling much better emotionally knowing that part is over. Still going for weekly Herceptin treatments. Completed blood test to check for ovarian cancer. Awaiting results for that. Second echocardiogram shows my heart still going strong. Trying to get on with life in the mean time!

Life in general is different now since my cancer diagnosis. I have to be more careful of my health now. I get tired and cranky more easily. (just ask my husband or my kids :) But, life goes on. We are going to try to take a vacation close to home in July. My sister is due to have her baby in July. Two of my kiddos will be having their tonsils and adenoids out in July. I am looking forward to it all.

One good thing a cancer diagnosis does for everyone I think, is to make them stop and evaluate what is important to them in life. I so cherish getting to do the ordinary and mundane things and I value my time with my family so much. I also have a new empathy for those fighting the battle with cancer...my pediatricians wife, my sister-in-law's mother, a friend's husband. I am reminded that our circumstances do not change who God is. He is still my Father, Friend, Healer, Comforter, and He hears the prayers of this faint-hearted soul. So, tonight I offer up prayers of praise for my healing, thanksgiving for my friends and family, and petitions for those in the middle of suffering. Amen!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sweet Childhood!

This week I watched "The Princess Diaries 2" with my daughters. It's such a cute movie. I guess every little girl dreams about being a princess someday. I have loved watching my daughters growing up. They are so beautiful and talented and sweet. I am excited to see how they continue to grow. Of course I am not looking forward to the whole "boy" stuff that is sure to come. All I can do is pray that even now the Lord is preparing their "prince" for their future together. In the meantime, I just had to laugh at their sweetness. After watching the movie, they immediately took off to play in their room. As they went, my 9 year old said, "Come on! Let's pretend that I'm a princess and you are..." Now I expected to hear the words, "you are the prince." Not being ready for them to start all the boy/girl stuff I must have been holding my breath. I need not have worried however. To my delight and amusement, she finished the sentence..."and you are my royal horse!" So much better in my opinion. :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Going Out with a Bang!

I finished my last chemo yesterday! Praise the Lord I made it through. Well, give me a week and a half to feel better and then I can say I made it through. :) I couldn't finish my chemo without some drama though. Yesterday, halfway through my second chemo drug, I had a reaction of some sort to the meds. My chest got real tight and heavy and I began having labored breathing. They immediately stopped the drug, took my blood pressure, checked my oxygen level and listened to my lungs and heart. Apparently on this drug some people have a reaction on their 6th or 7th time taking it. Weird. Anyway, after monitoring me for an hour and giving me another bag of steroids and another bag of fluids, I was cleared to finish. We took it more slowly the second time around and I was able to finish ok. Needless to say, by the time I got home I was very tired and swollen from all the fluids. We had been there from 10:30 a.m. till 4:30 p.m. Nothing like going out with a bang. :)

Today I am tired of course, but the swelling is going down now. I know I can finish up the rest of my treatments now. With the Herceptin I have some headaches and body aches and some insomnia, but that is all doable. I will finish in February hopefully and then begin discussions about reconstruction. For now, I'm just going to rest and wait for this week to pass.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Genetics Test

I got the results from my genetic testing this week. The test was negative! Praise the Lord! That means I do not have the genetic cancer gene and I do not have to consider any preventative surgeries and I do not have to have my daughters tested for the mutated gene! It would have been nice to have someone tell me, "Yes, this is why you got the cancer," but I did not want to have something that could have been passed on to my children.

So, I continue on with my weekly treatments. I have my second echocardiogram this week to make sure that the Herceptin is not damaging my heart. I have this week to enjoy and then I have my last chemo left on June 8th. Although I will be taking treatments till February of 2011, I am now trying to think of what I would like to do to celebrate the end of the yucky chemo part of the treatments. A weekend get-away to the mountains with my husband would be a wonderful way to celebrate I think. I wonder if I could find anyone to watch 4 kids for the night for me? :) Oh well. Counting down the days!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Soccer


Tis the end of the season for many things, and one of those is soccer. Watching my children play soccer is one of my "favorite things!" My husband used to play as a young man growing up and for the last couple of seasons he has been able to coach our girls team! It has been so much fun!

Nathan has been able to play on my brother-in-law's team and he just finished his third season. He is doing much better. His first try at it we could not keep him on the field. He just stood there and whined, asking, "Is it over yet?" The second go round he would run with the group, back and forth, back and forth, never even once glancing around to see where the ball might be. This third time around, he has actually kicked the ball a couple of times! It's what he calls scoring a goal. :) We still need a little work.

Emma is our little go-getter. She is a huge bundle of energy in a small package on the soccer field. She can play any position, including goalie, and lets all the other girls know where they need to be. :)

Hallie is our dependable one. She is usually always where she should be and can be counted on to pass the ball where it needs to be, or even score if necessary! She can defend or pursue with the best of them!

I was never an athletic type, so I am grateful to the Lord for this opportunity to watch my children play!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Breast Cancer Walk/Benefit




Here are a few fun photos of the Breast Cancer Walk/Benefit that my friend Dawn organized for us! She is the beautiful lady with the contagious smile in the photo at the bottom! We were so overwhelmed that day. The weather was perfect, and our tears began to flow as soon as we pulled into the park and saw all the cars and hundreds of people from all walks of our lives. Although I would not have chosen to have this cancer, I feel honored to have been able to experience something like this walk, where I got to see in a tangible way, the love of family and friends. I am also reminded of God's hand personally touching my life.

During the adoption of Micah, the funds were not there, but I felt like God would provide if we would step out in faith. And God did! We still cannot fathom how God provided during that two year process. Then, to find out that I had cancer just 9 months later and to wonder about all the medical procedures, expenses, etc. However, I felt the Lord telling me that He would not lead me where He would not provide. And, again, He has. The Walk/Benefit raised over $4000 for our medical expenses! Every cancer bill that has come in so far has been paid by a family member or friend's gift! What a testimony to God's graciousness to use those around us to bless us! We will never be able to fully express our gratitude. All we can say is "thank you from the bottom of our hearts," and "we love you!"


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Building a Bracelet!

I have finished chemo #3 and #4 and I am still building my bracelet. Thank you to my sister, Connie, who funded one of my newest beads!

#3 bead is yellow and is for my daughter, Hallie! Her nickname is "Sunshine," so the yellow seemed perfect! She got the nickname when she was just a little girl because she would wake up in the mornings smiling, happy and ready to start her day! She has continued to be happy and content and bring us so much joy!

#4 bead is aqua and is for my daughter, Emma! Aqua is her favorite color, so I had to get this one for her. Aqua is a unique, happy color with lots of charm and that fits my little girl to a T! From her style to her personality, Emma continues to make us smile every day!

I got a brief reprieve from the chemo treatments this week. I was supposed to have my 5th one on Tuesday, but asked if I could postpone it for 1 week. They don't like to do that, but the doc asked what I had going on. By pushing it forward a week, I'll be able to go to my girls piano recitals, their Spring Choir Concert, and attend my son's "End of the Year Program." Doc said that was good enough for him, so I got an extra week to enjoy my family!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day 2010!

Yesterday was the Breast Cancer Walk and Benefit for our family put together by my friend Dawn. The weather was beautiful and so many people turned out! We were overwhelmed by the love and generosity of everyone! Just pulling into the parking lot and seeing all the cars brought tears to our eyes. We enjoyed so much seeing people from so many different parts of our lives...friends from college, high school students, teachers from the high school, teachers from our daughter's elementary school, friends from church, friends from my husband's church growing up, family, etc. Words cannot express how blessed we feel and how grateful we are.

After the walk, I took the kids to Chick-fil-a to get a bite to eat. Emma mentioned that today had been "my day" and that they would try to be good the whole day in my honor. I then asked them if they remembered that the next day was going to be Mother's Day. That's when Hallie groaned and said, "Aw man. I don't know if we can do two days in a row!" :)

Well, today is Mother's Day and when I got up from my nap, the kids had posted home-made signs all over the house for me. The one above made David and me laugh. David said I better enjoy my day, because it looked like according to the sign it was going to be a short one! :) I am so grateful and blessed to be "mommy" to my kiddos and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world! In the midst of the cancer journey, this weekend has been an awesome reminder to me that I have friends and family who love me and a God who will provide for and take care of me! What a precious gift! Happy Mother's Day 2010!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Relay for Life!

I did it! My first American Cancer Society Walk for Life as a cancer survivor! I must say it was a little bit emotional for me.

Three years ago, there was a young girl in my husband's Student Council Core that had had cancer as a child. She asked if the core could be a team and walk in the relay as one of their service projects for the year. Of course they did and it has become a tradition for them ever since. I have walked in the relay before, but it was never personal!

When the walk began they had survivors stand in a line and tell our names and how long we have been on the cancer journey. Everyone gave their name and then gave a number in "years." I was the only one in the line that said, "4 months." While hearing all the "years" was very encouraging, it was also a reminder of how short a time we have been on our journey and what a whirlwind it has been so far and still is. We are still fighting and haven't yet come out on the other side. The next thing was the call for survivors to take the first lap, and I did get teary eyed. I don't think I would have made it around if it hadn't been for a sweet woman who sidled up next to me and talked with me the whole way round. A second lap was then done with our "caregivers" joining us on the track. I loved walking around with my family and my 3 oldest kids all held my hands and walked very closely to me. I think it was a good experience for them to think about my cancer but to also see so many others and their families who have battled it too.

Around 10:00 p.m., the candle or luminary ceremony began. White bags with candles in them were placed the entire length of the track and were lit "in honor" of or "in memory" of someone who had been touched by cancer. A young girl in my husband's Core had purchased a luminary in my honor and it was very surreal lighting the candle with my family and all those awesome young high school kids standing around me in a circle, hemming me in with their love and support. We then all took a lap together in the darkness and silence with a man on a bagpipe leading the way playing "Amazing Grace." A very touching experience again for my kids I think. Emma was crying, Hallie was reading all the bags on the side as we passed, Nathan was silent (he was very tired...way past his bed time), and Micah was, believe it or not, quiet as a mouse. He must have sensed something though because he spent the whole time walking from one student to the next without a word giving them big hugs.

It was a great "walk" and I look forward to next year. Of course my husband and the Core stayed at the walk till 5:30 a.m. They always run all night long with games for the teams, etc. and someone from your team walking on the track at all times. My girls wanted to stay, but were just too tired and we were not prepared. Next year, our plan is to let them stay all night with Daddy and we'll pack their sleeping bags, etc. like the big kids did! I think it will make awesome memories for them some day!

It was a fun memory for me too, and good preparation for the walk that is being done in my honor this weekend of Mother's Day coming up. I'm sure that one is going to be even more emotional for me. I guess it doesn't hurt every once in a while to be reminded that you are loved!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

No Fun to be Around

Ok. I will admit today that I must be someone right now who is no fun to be around. After chemo #4 I am an emotional and physical basket case. It is funny to me because when I do go out, everyone I see says how good I look. Maybe it's the wig, maybe it's the steroids they have me on, who knows, but I feel like I am ready to fly to Mexico to live out the rest of my life, following alternative treatments and eating only organic vegetables till I die of old age. :) Ok, my husband says that's a bit extreme.

I am so emotional. I cry mostly because I don't feel well. But, nowdays, I cry at the drop of a hat. Two weeks ago I cried watching my daughter singing "Banjo On My Knee," with her choir. Can you believe that? Me with tears running down my face while that song was being sung? What's more unbelievable is that I think I was crying just because I thought it was cool that she was singing the Alto (or low part)! Today she brought home a piece of paper from school that gave information about her upcoming 5th grade graduation and I started again...crying uncontrollably because it said that after her ceremony at school that morning the 5th graders must go home and not remain at school that day. How am I ever going to handle the actual piano and choir recitals coming up, or even the graduation ceremony itself? My husband is going to have to lock me up!

I also cry because I am tired. I'm tired in general. This week I am extra tired because apparently I have picked up some kind of infection on top of the chemo, so I am now on antibiotics too, and I've lost my voice. I am tired of not being able to taste stuff or get this awful metallic taste out of my mouth. I am tired of the muscles in my left eye twitching. This has been going on for two months now. I am tired of hot flashes. On top of everything else, the chemo is sending me into early menopause! I have so much hope and I know that this season will not last forever. My cancer is gone and I have so much to be grateful for. However, this also makes me tired...the emotional roller-coaster of gratefulness and sorrow mixed together.

So, what to do? All I can do right now is go to bed, so to save my family from more hilarious tears tonight, that's exactly what I am going to do. Good night.

"Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate.
The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For Thou hast rescued my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
Psalms 116:5-9 NASV

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Buy a Necklace, Protect a Life!



Ok. This blog was started for me to write about things I am passionate about, and for obvious reasons, it has begun as a blog about my experience so far with breast cancer. Today, however, I wanted to share about something else...my heart ache for the orphan.

I love the ministry Children's Hope Chest run by President Tom Davis. He has written a couple of Novels and also the books, "Fields of the Fatherless" and "Red Letters," which are fantastic. He is passionate about helping the poor and the orphan and is on the front lines daily in Africa, Russia and India. He just returned from a trip to Moldova, Russia, the sex-trafficking capitol in Europe. Children's Hope Chest is partnering with 2 organizations there that are working to rescue girls from this fate. A huge number of the girls trafficked are orphans who have just been let go from the orphanages at the ages of 15 and 16.

You can follow Tom's blog by clicking on the link in the side bar of my blog here. Right now they are offering a necklace that you can purchase for Mother's Day and the proceeds go to help these girls in Russia. The description reads:

This Mothers Day, Children’s HopeChest is partnering with AdoptionFathers.com to bring you the Love Goes Around necklace. This beautiful, limited edition, hand-made necklace will make an incredibly meaningful Mother’s Day gift.

When you buy this necklace for your mother, wife, sister, or daughter, proceeds will go directly to support young women like Masha, and other girls who benefit from programs at the Ministry Centers. Each necklace provides one of the following:

  • 2 weeks of direct assistance for a women in our Young Mothers Program
  • Nearly 1 month of mentorship, counseling, and discipleship at our Ministry Center
The necklaces are a bit expensive, but for the cost of a good pedicure or a meal at an expensive restaurant, you can help protect a life instead! Please click on the link hopechest.org to make your purchase! Thank you!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Missing Mommy.


Besides the week after each chemo when I am sick, I have decided that the worst thing about this cancer diagnosis is the "missing mommy" scenario that has developed. I honestly feel like my life has been put on hold till June when my last chemo is over. I am trying my best to be a part of everything that I can, but it's just not possible to do it all. Although I am sure the forced rest is good for me since my family is always on the go, it is still difficult to be left at home in bed and not feel like doing things I normally would.

My mom and my husband saved Micah's "gotcha day" and birthday. But I've missed choir concerts, soccer games, church and other things. I did buy Easter outfits this year, but I had forgotten to get shorts and shoes for the boys until it was too late and I'd already had my latest chemo. Thankfully, my husband and my sister met at Target on Saturday afternoon and found some that would work. I am grateful and it wasn't that big of a deal, but I just felt so sad. It just felt like one more thing I was missing. Of course I had to miss service this year, so our Easter picture this year is just of my beautiful kiddos!

I know it's not forever and I have so, so much to be grateful for, so I am going to stop complaining now. I just wanted to be truthful and being able to document my feelings is helpful to me, so that is how it is.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

3 Down, 3 to Go!

Today I went for my 3rd chemo treatment. I am now halfway on the chemo...3 down, 3 to go! All went smoothly. Again I slept through the 4 hour treatment. They are giving me half the dose of Benedryl they usually give people since I am so susceptible to meds and it still knocks me for a loop. (The Benedryl is given because at any point I can develop an allergic reaction to the Herceptin drug.) I am feeling exhausted this evening, but no nausea right now with the steroids and nausea meds in my system from the treatment this morning.

Today I also finished reading an amazing book. It is called "Love Mercy" by Lisa Samson. The back of the book gives this brief description...
"Having lived a life of plenty in suburban America, Lisa Samson and her eighteen-year-old daughter Ty thought they were traveling to Africa to minister to the people and chronicle the AIDS crisis devastating the continent. Their trip, they assumed, would be missional, merciful, giving. Instead, they experienced a life-changing, soul-rattling journey."

One thing that really spoke to me from the book was when she was talking about her life as "her story." God began to show her that this was not the case. Our lives are not about becoming followers of Christ and adding Him into "our story." From the moment of Creation and before, it has always been about "God's story" and when we become followers of Christ, we are mercifully and graciously drawn into "His story." It would be easy to be frustrated or fearful about how my breast cancer is messing up "my life story." However, when I look at it in the light of God wanting to use me and my cancer as part of furthering "His story," that changes things. I pray that I will be found faithful and will be a clear reflection of His love and grace!

On a side note...if you purchase the book to read, 100% of the proceeds go to Children's Hope Chest run by President Tom Davis who wrote the books "Fields of the Fatherless" and "Red Letters."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Where God Lead, He Provides!

The thought of the cost we are going to incur when I got the cancer diagnosis was just one of the thoughts on our minds as we headed into the new year starting 2010. I cannot even begin to imagine what weekly treatments for 1 year will add up to. Then you add the 2 surgeries, all the extras that go along with that, and the reconstruction stuff afterwards. It can be a bit overwhelming.

However, we have just come back from our adoption experience where God blew us away with His provision...the exact amounts at the exact time it was needed. Over and over again providing in ways that kept us humbly on our knees. We can truly say that our whole adoption experience was a "God thing" from start to finish. Now, the financial aspect of things does not seem too overwhelming for Him to handle. He has led me here, so I believe that He will provide the way. And He has already begun to provide in His usual unusual ways!

Yesterday, an aunt's mother called us and said that she and her neighbor were talking and she mentioned the cancer journey we are on and her neighbor said that he felt like he wanted to help us out. Each month he tries to give away $200 to someone who needs it and this month he definitely wanted to give it to us for our medical expenses! This from a man we have never met and probably never will!

In January, we got a call from a dear friend in our church who is a nurse. She had to organize a "Walk/Benefit" of some sort as a process in her continuing education. When she found out that I had breast cancer, she decided to do a Breast Cancer Walk and Benefit for our family! We have been very overwhelmed and humbled by her wanting to do this. The walk is going to be Mother's Day weekend here in our community and will include a silent auction, craft vendors, entertainment for kids, etc! People can buy a t-shirt, join a team and come walk with my family! I am looking forward to spending that time with our family and friends! If you have not signed up yet, I hope you will join us!

I love that God is so creative in His provision and that many, many times He loves to use others around us to bless our lives!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bracelet

Well, I thought I would share my bracelet with my first 2 beads, celebrating finishing my first 2 chemo treatments. My sweet husband got me the bracelet for Valentines Day and the 2 crystal hearts are built into the bracelet. There was so, so much to choose from, so I had to decide kind of what look I wanted the bracelet to take. I decided on these antique looking beads. I wanted to pick a different color bead to represent each member of my family since they are why I am fighting and doing the treatments in the first place. My first bead is "pink," of course, to represent me and the breast cancer. My second bead is "orange" for my husband. Since it happens to be one of the colors in his favorite ball team, I thought it appropriate. :) I am definitely NOT looking forward to my next treatment, but I am excited now about my next bead! A special thanks goes out to my friend, Chrystal, who gave me the idea for the bracelet in the first place and then gave me a gift card to "sponsor" my first bead!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Reason for my Hope!

I'm finishing off another rough week. Different, but still rough. The new meds helped with some of the symptoms, but not all. I want to cry myself to sleep every night, but I can't let myself because it makes the head aching worse. Without the HOPE that the doctors got all the cancer and this treatment is mostly prevention, without the HOPE that till May I am going to be sick for 1 week, but feel well for 2, without the HOPE that I can do or face ALL things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13), I would feel very HOPELESS right about now. I cannot imagine an inkling of the hopelessness those without a personal relationship with Christ must feel when something in their life goes wrong.

That being said, Jesus told His followers to, "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you, a reason for the hope that is in you..." (I Peter 3:15). So this morning, I was thinking of a couple of reasons that give me HOPE...

  1. Psalms 139 says it all. God knew me and loved me even before He formed me in the womb and He knew the number of days that I would live. Nothing can separate me from His love! "How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand!"
  2. Jeremiah 29:11-13 encompasses so much! I know that God has a plan for my life, that He hears my prayers and that He is a God who is personal and can be known! His death on the cross gave me the hope of a future without calamity in Heaven someday and I love His promise..."call upon Me, and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart!"
As I go through this cancer experience, I am encouraged by and in awe of those fellow believers in Christ who have not gotten the positive news that I have and yet are singing the praises of their Saviour with gusto. I am overwhelmed by their courage and faith and challenged by the strength of their personal relationship with Jesus Christ through their own cancer stories. My children's pediatrician and his wife, Pastor Matt Chandler, and Zac, the son of some missionary friends. Please click on their stories and read their hearts. I thank them so much for their faithful testimonies!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hoping for better!

Well, tomorrow I head in early for my second chemo treatment...a process that will take about 4-5 hours. I am hoping for better physical health this second time around. The nurse has given me some different meds to try to see if we can head off some of the side effects I experienced a couple of weeks ago. Lets see...those would be...constipation, headache, body ache, stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, raw tongue, a mouth sore, and taste bud changes. And all that happened in one week! I am trying to think positive and hoping that the different meds work better this coming week. I have also started experiencing the hair loss already. I was a little surprised that it happened so quickly after just 1 treatment.

On a positive note, I did well the second 2 weeks with just the Herceptin doses. I just experienced some body aches, headaches, and being really tired, but I can take a nap and some tylonal and live with those for the rest of the year if I have to. Also, although my blood count went down the second week, so far I have stayed well. My husband has done his best to keep me quarantined at home so that I don't get sick. Of course this week he missed 3 days of school because he was home sick with the stomach virus. The Lord has protected me and I feel well going into my treatment tomorrow.

My girls did not get to go with me last Tuesday. So much happened. The weather did not cooperate and it snowed that day. The cancer patient advocate was snowed in on the mountain and the lady who heads the cancer dept was home sick. Then they canceled school, so my husband had to stay home with all the kids and I drove myself to the treatment. So much for the best laid plans. :) The new plan is to take them with us next week. Hopefully that will all work out.

So, I head to bed tonight to try and get some rest so I will feel strong and rested in the morning!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Girls

This week has been a rough week for me and my family both. Lots of tears, lost sleep, and a little worry. I can write about it now as I am heading into my second week from the chemo and I am starting to feel better and have a little hope again that I can make it through this. It has been a difficult week for my girls though. So far, I have been able to be very straightforward with them and we have just taken everything in stride and been able to keep their routines the same. That all changed this week with me being sick. I think it has finally hit them that something could be wrong with me and they are starting to worry a bit.

Hallie (10) has asked me if she will get cancer since I got cancer. Emma (8) had a boy at school tell her that I could not have cancer because I am still here and people with cancer die. She came home this week, lay down in the bed next to me and started to cry. She said, "It's so hard to have a mom with cancer, and having no hair. It's so hard to have a life with your mommy sick." Needless to say that broke my heart.

Yesterday at my treatment (which will now be every Tuesday morning for the rest of the year) we spoke with Sam, a cancer patient advocate. He was a grandfather figure who was so awesome to talk to and put us at ease. Our hospital runs a program strictly for children of cancer patients. Next Tuesday, we are going to take Hallie and Emma out of school and take them to my treatment with me. On that morning, Sam and Janet (a wonderful lady who heads up the cancer dept.) are going to take the girls around the hospital, buy them lunch, let them meet my doctor, show them where and how I get my treatment and that it is a safe place to be, talk with them about cancer and answer any questions they might have. I am so, so excited for the girls and hope that this will be such an encouragement to them and help to take a small weight off their shoulders.

I'll let you know how it goes! In the meantime, thank you so, so much for all the prayers and words of encouragement. They are my lifeline and let me know that I am not alone!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sweet Worship


This morning I could not go to church as I am still not feeling well. Also, I am heading into the week where my blood count is supposed to be at its lowest and my likelihood for infection stronger, so I am just resting at home. We did, however, have our own church service with all the kids singing, Emma reading scripture, and a play performed by the kids. (Nothing is complete in our household without some kind of play production. Wonder if that is inevitable with 2 theatre majors for parents?) Anyway, the play was a version of the story of Esther in the Bible that I have never heard before and it just made me smile inside! Esther was taken by "carriage" to the "castle" where she went on "stage" to "audition" for the king. The words in quotations are my girls words. :) After she was chosen by the king, she saved his life by pushing him out of the way from something falling from the ceiling that was about to land on his head. The king was so grateful! It took me a while to figure that one out. Then my husband remembered that that is what happens in the Veggie Tale version. Needless to say, the story I heard this morning is now my favorite version of Esther that I have ever heard. :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Laminin

I was just reminded yesterday of something I heard from Louie Giglio in a message he gave at a concert. I hope you will click on Louie's name above and watch it. It is an AWESOME reminder of God's love and sovereignty and the fact that He knew us before He created us! I can rest confidently in the fact the the Lord is in control, He knows what He is doing in my life and He will hold me together!

Colossians 1:16, 17
For by Him all things were created,
in heaven and on earth, visible, and invisible...
And He is before all things,
and in Him all things hold together!

Have a Little Faith

Ok. I finished one of the books on my reading list for this year. It is a very compelling story and an easy read. I did make me want to add the book "Tuesdays with Morrie" to my list. Although I didn't necessarily agree with a few of his conclusions on different religions I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the 2 men in the stories and was again affirmed about what "true religion" should look like and act like! It definitely made me appreciate my church and my family and the blessings God has given me!



Tuesday, February 16, 2010

One Down, Five to Go!

2-1 and we are off. Yesterday my day surgery went well and I now have a porta cath in my chest. Besides a big bruise and some ugly stitches, you would not know it was there unless you looked real hard. I am so thankful they waited till this morning to start the treatments because once again, the anesthesia made me sick. Although the fact that they left the needle in overnight made for an uncomfortable night, I sure appreciated it this morning when they did not have to re-stick me! My wonderful nurse, Lori, called me in some wonderful numbing medicine that I can put on my skin each time before they have to stick me!

Today went well with my treatment. Today I was there for 5 hours! Usually on my Herceptin weeks, they said to plan for 1 hour. On my chemo weeks it will probably be 4 hours. I am so thankful that the room is not a sterile doctor's office environment. There are leather lounge chairs and recliners everywhere, a living room area with couches and a little kitchenette area with drinks, sandwiches, sweets, etc. for those who are there for a while. My husband even got to come back with me and he could sit and watch t.v., grade papers, etc. The biggest reaction I've had so far was to the Benedryl...I fell fast asleep. :) Right now I am just a little shaky and tired. My husband is at the pharmacy stocking up on the nausea meds, pain relievers, stool softeners, diarrhea meds, and other suggested items. I'm in it for the long haul. We are one down and five to go!

For Valentines Day my husband got me the bracelet that was suggested in the comments. Now I will plan to buy one new bead each time I complete another chemo treatment. I may try to get my first bead tomorrow if the steroids are still working and I have the energy. :) That will give me something to definitely look forward to! I should have a beautiful bracelet by this summer!

Friday, February 12, 2010

3-2-1

"3" - Today I began the countdown leading up to my first treatment day. My echocardiogram went well. I was not sure what to expect, but it was basically an ultrasound of my heart. Although I was not looking forward to another medical procedure, it is nice to know that my heart looks great!

After my visit, my husband and I went out to lunch for our "Valentine" date since I will be going to visit my grandparents this weekend. My grandpa is in a nursing home and although they have chosen not to tell him that I have cancer, someone told him that I was very sick and he has been worried about me ever since. I have not seen them since Christmas and once my chemo starts I don't know if I will be able to travel for a while, so I am going to go for a quick visit and set my grandpa's mind at ease.

So, I will enjoy the weekend and get ready for my surgery on Monday!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Uuggh!

Uuggh! That is exactly how I have felt this weekend. Last week, I tried to squeeze in doctors and dentist appointments for the kids so that I did not have to go into any children's doctors office once I started chemo and run the risk of catching something. So what happened? I caught a stomach bug this weekend. I do not do well with nausea and it made me afraid of my first treatment coming up. I know they have great nausea meds, but none of them worked for me when I was pregnant (I was sick for about 7 months with each pregnancy) and I am fearful that they won't work now. I have all the factors of someone who might get sick on the meds. I had bad morning sickness with my pregnancies, I get motion sick (I can't even swing), I am sensitive to medications, etc. I can't even begin to imagine being sick for the next 5 months! I have to stop and take a deep breath and put it out of my mind. I won't borrow worry, I will just wait till Tuesday morning and see what happens. They are going to start the process slowly to make sure that I don't get really sick or have an allergic reaction, so I am supposed to plan to be there for about 4 hours. Good thing I have a great book list started. I've gotten some great suggestions and can't wait to get started. I've started the list that I have on hand on the side of my blog site. I will add to it as I finish the books and I have and get some new ones. If you are reading one of the same ones, feel free to comment on what you think about it!

The writing is therapy for me and your comments are encouragement to me. They make me feel like I am not so alone on this journey. So thank you! And I will share with you that after my bout with sickness this weekend, my main prayer request right now is that I will be able to be strong and not be sick when I start chemo on Tuesday.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Making the most of it!



Well, little by little I am finding out more details about my treatment process. I will be going in on Monday the 15th to have day surgery to have my port put in. This port will allow me to have the chemo and Herceptin with a minimal amount of pain and will protect my veins from collapsing. The veins in my hand and arm would never hold up to an I.V. every week for a year. Then, on Tuesday the 16th I will go in to begin my first treatment. We forgot to ask, but my friend said that her treatments took about 2 hours each time, so that is what I am going to try to prepare for. They did show me the room where I would go each week. There are huge leather recliners with cup holders where I will sit while I have the infusion. Since it looks like I'll be spending some time there, I'm going to try to make the most of it. I am loading up my i-pod with all my favorite songs and starting to put together a list of books I'd like to read. I have 5 so far that I'm excited to read. Feel free to offer me more suggestions of your favorites. :)
  1. "Half the Sky" by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
  2. "Have a Little Faith" by Mitch Albom
  3. "Mansfield Park" by Jane Austen
  4. "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller
  5. "Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear" by Max Lucado
My friend Pam, a fellow adoptive mom who I got to meet for the first time today, suggested that I find some small way to celebrate and count down each chemo treatment. Something small like buying a purse or something I've been wanting, stopping on my way home to pick up my favorite dessert (5 layer chocolate cake with raspberry sauce from O'Charley's or Italian Creme Cheese cake!) I think that is an awesome idea. I was wanting to count them down anyway. So, while the suggestions for books are flowing, any ideas for small ways I can celebrate as I finish each chemo treatment? Thank you for all the love and support!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Treatment Plan

Today was my first visit with my oncologist. We really like him so far and have friends who sing his praises, so we feel like we are in good hands. We had a long talk and have lined up our plans for the cancer treatment. Someone asked me this week how I'm feeling about everything and right now, I am in a fighting mood. :) I am ready to do whatever it takes to get going and get rid of whatever might be lurking around in my body. Because my cancer was HER2 positive (only 25% of breast cancer patience have this more aggressive kind) right now I have a 45% chance of it recurring. The treatment plan that I will be taking has a 90% success rate, so I am ready to get started.

  • Friday the 12th I go in for an echocardiogram so they can get a clear picture of my heart. The Herceptin can damage the heart sometimes, so this will allow them to keep a check on me.
  • Some time the week after Valentines Day, I will go in for a day surgery to have a port cath put in my chest. This will allow them to give me the treatments there. My veins would not hold up to an I.V. every week for a year.
  • The same day the port is put in, I will have my first treatment of chemo and Herceptin. I will have 6 treatments of chemo, 1 every 3 weeks till I reach the 6. I will have the Herceptin infusions every week for 1 year.
This week, I got an e-mail from a friend of my husbands. She said that the Lord had given her 2 verses for me and they are perfect "fight songs" for me as I get ready to head into this crazy year that lies ahead!

Jeremiah 32:27
"I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?"

Jeremiah 32:17
"Ah, Lord God! It is You who have made the heavens and the earth
by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm!
Nothing is too hard for You!