Category Archives: Cancer Fight

Last Day & Cancer Free

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Today I had my LAST treatment! I am officially

Cancer FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fierce helped me ring the bell. Everyone gets a kick out of him because he claps his hands every time someone rings the bell. He gets so excited! Before I left, the staff gave me a card and a pin, the radiation technicians awarded me and Fierce certificates of achievement and the nurses and social worker spoiled Fierce with a whole bag of toys which included a super hero bear. One of the nurses bought him a whole pack of cars. Everyone was so sweet and blessed us beyond measure. As I left, I took a deep breath and blinked away a few tears and said a prayer for all of those people entering or still walking their own treatment journey.

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Side effect-wise, I am already on the mend. My skin had begun to peel and look pretty angry and now it just looks like a bad tan…I can live with that 😉 I had a bit of neuropathy in my feet and now it is only in the very tips of my toes. My hair is coming back along with my eyebrows and eyelashes and that feels so good.

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last day

2016 was a year of blessing. There was a call for overcast weather, but God held my hand through every step. I want to thank each and every one of my family and friends for all of your continuous help. You were always there for me whenever I needed something and went above and beyond with meals, gifts, cards, encouragement and help with Fierce. AAAhhhh, I am tearing up as I write this. THANK YOU!!!!!!!

Best advice I can give to anyone going through something like this is to praise the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Happy Anniversary Wes! Thanks for being a wonderful husband. I am so grateful for the last 7 years together and am looking forward to the future. May God bless you and our family. I love you!

Radiation: 20 Down and 10 to Go!

I am 2/3rds done with radiation therapy! Overall, I am doing well. If I am tired, I just take a nap when Fierce goes down, but it really is not that bad. My skin is getting pinker, especially by my clavicle. I had forgotten they were radiating that far up and hadn’t been putting any lotion in that area…bummer! The pores of my skin are getting larger and look like small freckles. I am not getting any hair growth in my underarm and the Dr. said it may not come back—hey, less shaving! lol

I am on a pill called Tamoxifen which is an anti-estrogen pill. Despite this, my estrogen levels are normal so my Dr. is not too worried about my bone health. My FSH was low and those with menopause would have a high FSH level so the Dr. said it might be possible for me to have a child in the future. Unfortunately, there are next to no studies on people like me and I have to be on Tamoxifen for 3 years, so no guarantees.  It did sound pretty positive though, thank you Lord!

Today is the Dr. Martin King Jr. Holiday so after radiation, I brought Fierce to the History Museum. He was able to make a paper Freedom Bell and color a T-Shirt that represented a cause. I wrote “I Have A Dream” for his because I hope he grows up to live in a world where MLK’s dream “…that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” is true.

Thank you for your continued prayers! Almost there!!!!!!

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Radiation Count: 10 Down, 20 to go!

Let’s just start by saying that the nurses are AMAZING! Fierce lights up when he sees them. Cynthia, Anita & Tina spoiled him with tons of attention today. ShauntA bought him a Christmas present and LaMont gave him a Joy Jar filled to the brim with little stuffed animals and such.

Besides a bit of pink skin, I don’t have any noticeable side effects yet (they set in near the end, I am told). I apply corn starch on my skin during the day and put hydrocortisone cream followed by a lotion they gave me on at night. I am usually up at 7:30 or 8:00 am with Fierce, out the door by 9:30 am in order to make a 10:40 am appointment and out of there by 11:45 -ish.

The fun part of the day is trying out a new lunch spot or taking Fierce somewhere in the city. Last week we went to the City Museum and saw a juggler and acrobat. He got to paint for the first time and play on slides in their Toddler Town. The over-all feel of the museum was a bit like St. Louis, dark and dingy with glimmers of hope. My favorite part, was on the first floor, which was converted into a cave display. You were able to walk through all of these catacombs and secret passageways.

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Radiation: 1 Down 29 to go!

Today was my first day of radiation and it went great!

I was shown the routine and dropped Fierce off with a nurse. Then, they lined me up with the machine so that I am positioned the same way every time I get a treatment. When the machine started, I thought to myself “Oh crap, I forgot to ask what it would feel like! Is this going to burn, sting, etc…” I refocused and honestly, nothing happened. It was over soon enough. The machine as a whole moved around me a few times. One section of the machine had a glass pane and behind it, little teeth like metal pieces kept re-calibrating making different formations -super interesting. I will definitely have to remember to ask for more details on that 😉

When I picked up Fierce, the nurses were ooing and ahhing over him, “He is so adorable, make sure to bring him back!” This made me feel good and relieved that he had so much fun running up and down the halls and in their toy room…he got quite the backstage pass!

God is so good to meet every need. If I don’t write again before the 25th, Merry Christmas!

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Surgery and planning for Radiation

I was soooo excited for surgery. In and out, a one day deal-this was going to be the easy part of the 3 step process. Ya, about that. I woke up and found out they had to remove 11 lymph nodes because the chemo didn’t take care of all of the cancer in the affected, original lymph node. I now have a risk of developing lymphedema at some point in my life so I am doing physical therapy and will have to wear a compression sleeve. About a week after surgery, I was enjoying time with my Mom and Fierce at a pumpkin farm and got a call from my surgeon. She said that everything went well, but that I would have to come back for another surgery because they needed larger margins on two sides. Apparently, some cancers shrink like an ice cube, but others such as mine get blown out like swiss cheese. Thus, although there wasn’t much left they needed to take more. While on the phone I was my cheery and grateful self. However, when I hung up the gray skies just seemed to loom in and around me. If I could have dramatically dropped the phone from my fingertips, I probably would have. Instead, I saved it from the mud and let a few tears of exhaustion fall.

I had done the surgery in MI so my family could help me with Fierce. The first week after surgery I stayed with my sister-in-law, Sara, and the second I spent with my Mom. Since I needed an additional surgery I spent the 3rd week with Sara as well…thanks ladies!!! I honestly felt so spoiled and blessed to have their help with Fierce while my arm healed. I could hardly lift it without pain at first and wasn’t allowed to lift over 10 lbs. Now I am doing so much better. I have to admit that although I know God was with me through this last stage, I just felt out of it. I felt mentally tough through the chemo and this just sorta got me down. I was pretty annoyed with myself. Ugh!

While I was in MI, my friend, Megan, threw me a 30th birthday party at her house. It was so much fun cooking outside and having a bonfire. She had a s’mores bar and little goodie bags for our friends who brought their kids…honestly how cute could she be?

It has been about 5 weeks since my last surgery and today I had my planning session for radiation. I had to bring Fierce with me, but the nurses were awesome and held him when he couldn’t be with me. The coolest part was when they made the mold that I will be laying on so that I remain in the same, still position for every treatment. I laid on a black garbage bag and they poured in a chemical that expands and then hardens around your body. They even made a wax mold for my ear so that I would know where to place my head each time as well. The doctor took a sharpie marker to my skin and drew the lines where they will be radiating. I officially look like a treasure map. Kinda happy I am doing this part in the fall so I don’t have to walk around with all the random markings showing. 😉

The End of a Chapter: Last Days of Chemotherapy

Thank you to the doctors, nurses and volunteers who helped me through these last few weeks of chemotherapy here in St. Louis. The best treatment day I had, Jeanne from the Botanical Gardens brought in all different types of flowers and plants for us to make our own bouquets. Each plant was picked for its texture, smell or color as a part of a horticultural therapy. While arranging this bouquet, I met Hope. She was receiving treatment for colon and liver cancer. On my last day of chemo she received news that her tumors had shrunk and it was going to be her last day too!

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Before I entered the building my last day, I had a fear that I wouldn’t get treatment and this wouldn’t be my last day. I shook it off and went through the routine of checking in, getting my blood drawn and meeting with my doctor. While in the waiting room before I get treatment a lady walked up with a GORGEOUS bouquet of roses and lilies with a note that said:

Congratulations on completing your chemo treatment. Fierce and I are proud of your courage and strength. I hope he gets to hear about it when he grows up! -Wes

I started to cry tears of joy and appreciation. Then a lady from the billing department cut in to tell me that there was some mix up with my insurance. I spent the next 4 hours trying to sort things out so that I could receive the treatment. After finally getting the go-ahead, I got hooked up and slept a bit. My parents were already waiting at our house, so I couldn’t wait to get home. However, there was one more thing to do before leaving. All of the nurses come out and watch you ring a bell. As they clapped and cheered, I got emotional again and teared up. Thank you so much everyone!

It is amazing how many people are involved in saving your life. I feel like there was not one health professional, family member or friend that did not come to my rescue or help me in some way these past few months. Thanks for bringing food, babysitting Fierce, spoiling me with gifts, health food and the wig. This has been one of the hardest years to get through and also one of the most blessed. I genuinely appreciate all of the love you all poured out on me and my family.

Next up is surgery on October 10 and radiation every day for 6 weeks. There is a playroom for kids during the radiation treatments so Mr. Fierce will be taken care of, which is a huge relief for me not knowing many people here in St. Louis. Honestly, God is so good and has truly provided for us every step of this journey.

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Taxol…Only 1 month to go!

I closed the door to our apartment with my hands full, got Fierce in the stroller to go for a walk around the lake and realized I forgot my scarf…ugh. Oh well, skip it. Fighting off a little self consciousness and a smidge of regret I strolled on and it was awesome. I felt the wind in my 1 cm long hair! It felt so weird. I had forgotten how nice and humanizing that felt. I can almost imagine what it would be like to have my long locks again. Some day!

On the flip side, my hair is coming in white with a little black mixed in so I look like I am seriously 45 or 50 years old. You all know that classic grandma cut. Oh boy, it is actually harder to look in the mirror now that it was when I was bald. Thank goodness for hair dye. I cannot wait until it is long enough to dye a normal color…They say it should be an “acceptable” length my December. I am not at all sure what that means, especially when I was used to hair down to the middle of my back 😉

Last week before my chemotherapy appointment they told me that my white blood cells were at a .9. The minimum for treatment is a 1.7, but they usually let you continue treatment until it is down to a .5. So this week I ate as healthy as I could and asked everyone to pray because I didn’t want the count to continue to go down and have to delay treatment. If you have to delay, it is not as effective. This week my levels were up to a 1.6. Praise the Lord! I don’t have a clue if this is normal or not, but Taxol usually just keeps decreasing your count so I feel so incredibly blessed!

I am 2 months down with 1 to go so it is starting to feel like the home stretch of the chemo part…Yaya!

Halfway Through Taxol

We are settling into St. Louis. We actually live just across the state line in O’Fallon, IL. Apartment living is like camping for now. The mattress is on the floor in our room and Fierce is using his pack ‘n play. The really neat part is that the minute you walk out your door all of our neighbors are incredibly friendly. The neighbor right below us has a little boy who is 2 years old so we have been spending a lot of time together. The Gorillas at the zoo caught Fierce’s amazement and the play place at the St. Louis Science Museum was Aniah’s favorite. There are a LOT of mommy and me things to do around here. Chick Filet and Barnes and Noble both have story times that are fun for kids. Fierce tends to take it all in and interact towards the end, but at least he is nice and quiet during the story time 😉

I have moved all of my chemotherapy treatments to Siteman’s Cancer Center (Washington University) and everyone is so sweet. I don’t have my own room, but the chairs are heated and pretty spread out so that is nice. My treatments are on Fridays now because Wes works 4 10 hour days and has Friday off. So far he has stayed home and watched Fierce, but this week they are both going to come with me and check out the family room. There isn’t a cafeteria, but you can have food ordered into the facility. My Dr. here put me on a half dose of the steroid I was on in MI to prevent nausea and reactions to the chemo and I have done really well. I am all about taking less drugs! I was also able to go off of the benadryl which is awesome because I need to be able to drive home and not be sleepy.

Before my first treatment my friend, Maeva, sent me a hand crocheted blanket for me to use during my treatments. It is warm and so adorable. My sister-in-law, Lyndsay, sent me a pot of succulents right before we left MI so I hope she is happy to know that they survived the move and are now loving this heat advisory weather. Megan wrote me a sweet card with a gas card in it and then when I got here she mailed me a starbucks card because she missed our coffee dates. Meg, I plan to be home for surgery in September, so coffee will be on me in person! Thanks girls for thinking of me and being so incredibly sweet.

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Jen Singer, who has clung to Christ through the tragedy of losing twins, saw this tank and sent it to me. Thank you so much and please know that you are in my prayers.

Wes’ new job is through Scott’s Air force Base. When we first arrived he brought me to see the planes that are on show right before you get to the base. I have not been on base yet, but I should be able to after I get the appropriate ID or permission. I would love to get to know some more people that are in similar situations and I heard there are a lot of kid friendly events on base as well.

Before I wrap this long post up, I want to say a HUGE thank you to my Mom, Dad, Lynnae, Tate, Blake, Will, Sara and my Aunt Deb for helping us pack and move. I can’t believe how much work it required and you all were dedicated! Thanks!

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Chemo Round 4

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This week I wanted to get my focus off of the anticipation of nausea as I received chemotherapy. I asked my friends and family for their prayer requests so I could focus on God and others. I may be a wounded warrior, but I am dedicated to taking back for God more than has been taken from me.

Another thing that I am really grateful for is the insurance plan we have through Wes’ job at ScientiaMobile. Without it, this could be a financial nightmare. I feel like every aspect of going through this crazy time has been taken care of and I am so incredibly thankful.

The aftermath of chemo was the usual unpleasantness. On Wednesday, I went to my cousin JoDe’s to lay on her couch while she watched Fierce. Thanks Jo!

My cousin Jessica took Fierce today while I went to an Ultrasound to find out how my tumor has been responding to the chemotherapy. Thank you! My tumor started out at 22mm and is now down to 6mm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The nurse was so excited to tell me that their has been SIGNIFICANT change!

I expected good news since I can barely feel it myself anymore, but I still got teary-eyed when I was by myself in the car. When I got home, my cousin Nate and his wife Erin had sent flowers to me to bring a smile to my face. Well, I am beaming right now!

Thank you Lord for your faithfulness. I am so grateful you are walking with me through this cancer fight.

Chemo Round 3

Sitting there getting pumped full of life saving chemicals was making me nauseous, which is physically impossible because of the anti-nausea drugs. I realized my brain was warning me “THIS IS WHAT MAKES YOU SICK!” Alright, so the mental battle has begun. I decided to get my mind on something else so I turned on a song my cousin’s daughter, Ava, sang acapella for me a while back called “I will trust in you” by Lauren Daigle.

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior, King of the fight
No matter what I face, You’re by my side

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

I listened to a few more worship songs and it did help.

On the medical side of things. The doctor told me my sugar was low. During the off week it was at a 66 and before chemo it was at a 61. Apparently most people feel light headed at this level as a normal level after a fast is 70 -90 and 140 after 2 hours of eating and I had eaten breakfast already. So, I was glad that I had brought a bunch of snacks including a protein shake my friend Tracey had given me. She is an old co-worker I had in college when I worked at McShane and Bowie, PLC. She said the office was praying for me and she gave me a gift bag of essential oils and health snacks that are supposed to be good for those going through breast cancer. I really miss going out to lunch with her during the work week, it was just so nice to catch up again.

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My friends also spoiled me this past week. We do a girls night on occasion and this time we went to Socorro for 1/2 off hibachi. When I arrived they handed me several gifts. The staff kept asking, what are you celebrating and they replied “Girls night.” They looked at us confused since I was clearly the only one receiving gifts. Looking back, I probably should have said something like cancer recovery, but I don’t always love making that the topic of conversation in that kind of setting. The gifts were really thoughtful. Amanda and Kacie both work at Dental offices and gave me a dry mouth kit. I have been concerned about my oral hygiene so this was a timely gift. Allie gave me Laura Mercier makeup, which is nice because I am not supposed to use any of my old makeup for fear of germs and infection. Stephanie gave me a scarf and a few magazines. She also gave me a knit cap made for breast cancer survivors and for some reason Fierce thinks it is so funny to take it off my head and try to put it back on again. Lindsey, Stephanie K and Stacie both donated towards the never ending gift basket. One of the gift cards was for Harvest Health. I had been wanting to go there and get three herbs/vitamins I heard helped you to not lose feeling in your fingers and toes during the next phase of chemo. I was able to pick of 2 and order the 3rd so I am so grateful. Thank you so much girls!

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The Tuesday after chemo I felt pretty terrible. I stayed around the house and just went from my room to the kitchen and back again. My sister-in-law, Sara, sent me flowers from the family and when I received them I just teared up. Thanks for your thoughtfulness.

By Wednesday, I just didn’t want to be home even though I felt nasty. I called up my friend Wendy and we went to Sandy Pines to relax by the water, take a golf cart ride and chill. I appreciated getting my mind off my rolling stomach, but I think I was a little ADD with the days activities. Thanks for your fun and patience Wendy! Later that night was the worst I have felt so far. People would send me a text and I felt anger because I just didn’t have the energy to respond. My mind felt this “Oh that is so nice of them” warp into “Why the heck don’t people leave me alone.” I finally decided to call my mom and through one word answers she realized I needed to have her tell everyone I would get back to them tomorrow. I felt a huge mental battle to be nice and remain positive. The only way I can think of describing my stomach pain is to say that if feels like someone took my stomach to the fair and is hitting it like they hit the high striker or strongman game and then my esophagus is the puck rising towards the bell.

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Sweet, sweet Thursday arrives and I feel almost normal again. By Friday it is like nothing happened. Plus, Wes’ friend Eric stopped by and brought me flowers from the farmers market and Wes some dark chocolate fudge. Yum and thanks! My sister’s shower was on Sunday and I did notice that if I talk about chemo, I feel the remnants of nausea. Man, the mind is a crazy thing. I am so glad there is only one more round of these drugs. The nurse told me that the next drug (weekly chemo until September) doesn’t make you feel so sick. I am ready for a change 🙂