Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye Decade...Specifically 2009

So, looking back at New Years Eve last year, I would have never imagined that my 2009would have started or ended the way that it has. I think we all view the beginning of a new year as a fresh start with a clean slate. We all go into January 1st believing that better things are to come. But what if that doesn't happen to be the case? What if you were diagnosed with cancer like I was, lost a child like a few friends did, lost a job like our neighbors, or just had a crappy year in general...nothing major happened, but you were hoping for it to.
Well, I'm here to tell you that there is HOPE for ALL circumstances that we are placed in. I'm going to be honest and raw in some of the following statements, but will show you how the Lord responded to me...

1. When I was first diagnosed my heart was hurting so fiercely and God supplied this: Psalm 34:18 - The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

2. When I had my mastectomy and they were checking lymph nodes for cancer, I just knew that Jesus was going to clear out my lymph nodes and have them come back negative. I seriously KNEW it. I had more confidence in this than I could even explain, but for some reason, that was not in His ultimate plan for me. But he showed me this during that time Psalm 57:7 - My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises! and... Romans 4:18a - Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping; believing.

3. When nothing was moving fast enough in terms of getting test back so chemo could be started, I was literally ready to throw my hands up in the air, scream and hit someone, God gently reminded me... Isaiah 55:8-9 says: My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts and my ways are far beyond anything you could ever imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts

4. When I was becoming anxious about how God was going to use me and this cancer to minister to others. I felt like I should be doing something/anything, but my body just couldn't do it through the chemo. That's when I was reminded of Psalm 46:10 - Be still and know that I am God.

5. In May when my body was hurting from all of the chemo and I started wondering if this was going to be my path for the rest of my life. God reminded me of a verse that He showed me on the day of my first chemo treatment. Exodus 14:13-14..."Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." The Egyptians in my life are cancer cells.

6. During chemo and radiation, when I needed to remember that He is all that I need and I don't have to do this thing called cancer alone, He reminded me of this: 2nd Corinthians 12:7-10...I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down, what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty. At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that and then he told me, My grace is enough for you. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

7. When I needed the faith in my Lord that he would restore my health and happiness and would probably not only restore it, but give me more of it He gave me this: Psalm 62:5-8 says...Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation my fortress where I cannot be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge and my rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your hearts to him for God is our refuge.

I welcome you 2010 with hope, confidence, and trust that Jesus is going to continue to be faithful to me. I trust that 2010 will be one of the brightest years to date for me as with all of my heart I shine forth the light of Jesus. Bring on the New Year!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Baby Changes Everything...

Last Sunday at church, this was the name of my very favorite song that was sang. Of course the baby they are referring to is Jesus and this got me to reflecting on how much THIS baby in particular REALLY DID CHANGE EVERYTHING. He changed our pasts before we ever had a past, He changes our present daily lives, and praise Him that He has changed our futures!!!
This time of the year especially just gets me almost giddy that we celebrate our Saviour's birth. Those who know me, know that I LOVE birthdays! Seriously...I love them. I go out of my way and bend over backwards to make sure David and the children have amazing birthdays. I get so much joy out of the planning, and surprising that goes into it that others' birthdays are more fun for me than my own.
So, yesterday on Christmas, I was a little taken aback as I was cooking dinner and getting ready for the birthday cake celebration we would have afterwards. My thoughts started drifting back to you-know-where...that dirty little 6 letter word C-A-N-C-E-R. I started thinking back to the pictures we took last year and how everything was so perfect. Brody was finally better from his surgery and milk allergies, Chloe had just finally started talking, it was getting closer to my brother coming back from Iraq, and truly all was wonderful. I see myself in those pictures with a head full of hair, a thinner smiling face, and excitement to see what my next year would bring. I just all of a sudden became sad that life went from perfect to miserable in the drop of a hat. Maybe it's because my diagnosis was made shortly after the holidays and that's why it affected me so weird yesterday. I don't know.
Then I started thinking and wondering if this would be my last Christmas with my family (as I'm sure most cancer patients initially do with each big holiday). And then something strange happened. And I know you guys will totally think this is weird but I think it was God. All of a sudden my thoughts changed to "wow...what a rockin' birthday party that they are having in Heaven right now. I bet Debbie (my friend who lost her life to cancer a month ago), my 2 grandfathers, and other friends are seriously at the best birthday party ever! How awesome is that?!? Can you imagine being there and being a part of those festivities? I so hope that Jesus will just let me be in charge of His balloons! OK - so now I'm getting a little too excited, but I'm just sayin'...
Just think friends, it is so true when Paul says "For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain."
As we begin to start thinking of ushering in another new year, my prayer for you all is that you will allow Christ to be your everything. That you will be as sold out for Him as He was for us when he chose to leave heaven, be born to imperfect people, and then chose to die on the cross for imperfect me, you, and everyone else.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Results Are In

Things have been so crazy at my house for the past 10 days that I have barely had time to catch my breath for even one minute. However, there are some things that I am dying to share with every one of you my sweet friends.
First and foremost, I won't keep you wondering...my thyroid biopsy came back BENIGN!!! Yes, that's right. I am still cancer free. I will just be followed by my endocrinologist every 6 months for ultrasounds on the nodule to check for growth. If it gets bigger and becomes bothersome, I will have surgery to remove it. If it remains the same, then I am good to go. So, praise the Lord with me that I do not have to add the walk through thyroid cancer to my medical chart.
Next, I want to share what the Lord has been putting on my heart lately. Well, technically it's been more than just "lately" but that's beside the point. Let's just say that I have now termed Him, in the most loving and respectful way possible, my "Divine Stalker." He has been keeping me up late at night and waking me up at all hours of the night with this. He has been introducing me to new people who can help answer questions for me regarding this, and he has shown me that I am not the only one who He has placed this desire upon. So, you now are asking WHAT is this girl talking about?!? I am talking about not a "what", but a "who." THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Have any of you ever stopped to just think about who the Holy Spirit is. I mean beyond the Spirit of God. Have you ever stopped to think about the POWER of the Holy Spirit? The power that came upon the disciples at Pentecost when the Spirit came and rested on them? Have you ever stopped and thought about the gifts of the Holy Spirit? How about being baptized in the Holy Spirit? My friends, THESE are the things that the Lord has placed ever so firmly on my heart and these are the things that I am sorting through, praying through, and learning about. I am beyond intrigued and just cannot get enough of it. Now, please know that I am not a new Christian. I have been saved since I was a child, but about 2 years ago I came to really learn about the Holy Spirit and His power. Since my diagnosis 11 months ago, I came to really understand and experience His power in my life. Maybe it wasn't that I didn't know about it, but that I had finally surrendered to it. Regardless, it has been a glorious experience and I just want more...to the point that I don't think I will ever get enough of God and I hope that I don't.
If any of you are interested in learning more, there are several books I would love to recommend that have helped me and only increased my hunger for more. Here's the list:
1. The Shack
2. Crazy Love
3. Forgotten God
4. The books of Acts and Ephesians in the Bible
5. Embracing the Spirit of God
If any of you read or have read these books, let me know. Send me an email ( kellysblevins@yahoo.com ) with your thoughts, questions, and opinions.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Left You Hanging

So sorry about that. I really don't have that much to update on regarding my thyroid. I did meet with my endocrinologist at Vanderbilt last week. Dr Jagasia is her name and may I just say that I LOVE her! She is awesome and amazing and again, I feel like God placed me with the perfect doctor. Anyways, the mass definitely has to be biopsied because the size of it is double the cutoff for biospy. She confirmed that only about 15% of these are cancerous and that even if mine is, that it is 99% curable with surgery and radioactive iodine pills. She did try to get me in for a biopsy that day, but had no luck. So...I head back to Vandy on Wednesday for the test. She said the results usually take 4 days to get back so I should know a few days before Christmas. Promise to update the results as soon as I know them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

OK - Update On Me

Well, I have no idea when was the last time I updated on my health or what I last updated because I was too lazy to look back and read (it's late and I so should be sleeping). So, here's the short version.
Last month, I was having tingling in my back and of course my paranoia set in and I mentioned it to my oncologist several times. In order to allay my fears of metastasis to the spine, she ordered a spine MRI. It came back totally normal showing no cancer in the spine, but they happened to see a pretty large nodule on my thyroid. My oncologist told me that she was not at all concerned about it from a cancer standpoint, but wanted my PCP to follow up on it. He ordered blood-work and several diagnostic tests and I had them done the week of Thanksgiving.
Fast-forward to yesterday and my phone rang while I was driving to Target...it was my doctor calling. Immediately when I heard his voice and not his nurse's, I kind of knew that the news was going to be less than perfect. He told me that the ultrasound had come back showing a partially fluid filled and partially solid mass on one side of the thyroid. Then he told me that the thyroid re-uptake scan had come back showing a "cold nodule" and those are the types that could be cancerous. He told me to call my nurse at Vanderbilt and see if she could get me in with an endocrinologist faster than he could for a biopsy to see if this is benign or malignant. I politely thanked him, wished him a great day, and hung up the phone to call my momma. Sometimes I just need my momma - no matter how old I get. Tears flowed at first and I thought "I cannot do this again. I CANNOT do this again LORD! Please do not make me go through this again!!! Haven't I been through enough? Hasn't my family suffered enough because of me?" And then, after talking to my mom and probably several prayers later (thank you prayer warriors) I had an overwhelming peace. It was truly the peace that passes all understanding. I heard the Lord tell me that I was right, that I could NOT do this again...not by myself at least, but that if I had to do it again, that HE COULD do it for me - like He did the first time. And then today I thought about Paul and how in the Bible he gives an account of the thorn in his side and how he asked the Lord to remove it 3 times but He never did. And then Paul goes on to say that God's response to him was "My grace is all that you need. My power works best in your weakness." Then Paul came to realize that when he was weak, then he was really strong.
I know I have a long way to go, but I am really seeing that Paul's realization is a realization that I have made in my life this year too. I have been weak emotionally, physically, and mentally this year, but boy when I admitted that I just couldn't do it and instead relied on Christ and His ability, I became strong. God's grace is all that I need - all that any of us need.
So, to sum it all up, I did some research and found that a "cold nodule" 85% of the time is not cancer. I am NOT worrying about it (surprise surprise), I have NOT lost sleep over it, and I have NOT let satan take over my thoughts but have instead clung to the Voice of Truth. If you so feel compelled, I would love your prayers because I am not naive enough to think that just because the stats are in my favor that I couldn't be one of the 15%. But I am trusting 100% that whatever the outcome that there is a greater purpose and plan and that the Lord is sovereign.
My appointment is next Tuesday and I am hoping that the endocrinologist will go ahead and biopsy the mass that day so that I can get results and put this behind me before the holidays.

Psalm 66:8-10...Let the whole world bless our God and loudly sing His praises. Our lives are in his hands and he keeps our feet from stumbling. You have tested us O God; you have purified us like silver.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sharing A Story

On March 6, 2006 I discovered that I was pregnant with Chloe. This was the most thrilling news for us. Immediately I called my doctor's office and scheduled an appointment and within 45 minutes, I started bleeding. NOT A GOOD SIGN. I instantly called the doctor back and spoke with a nurse named Debbie. Debbie was the sweetest most calming nurse and she really helped calm my nerves. As the days passed and things were looking super grim with that pregnancy, I talked to Debbie a lot on the phone. She never made me feel like I was bothering her but instead treated me like I was the only preggo person in Clarksville. Obviously, that pregnancy ended at 40 weeks with a sweet baby girl named Chloe, and Debbie was thrilled to see her when I brought her in for my check-up.
Fast forward to July 2, 2008 (yes, I remember important dates very well) and Debbie was my go-to nurse again. She called me to check on me when I went into pre-term labor with Brody. We talked several times on the phone towards the end of that pregnancy yet at this time I felt like we were more friends than nurse/patient. And at that point we made the connection that her son was working for David. Her son, Patrick is an amazing young man who you can tell was raised in a Christian home. He's polite, courteous, loving, compassionate, honest, and much more...just like his mom. Anyways, Debbie and I stayed in contact through that pregnancy too.
Fast forward to May 2009 and Debbie and I meet in the most random place of all...the cancer clinic at Vanderbilt. The month after Brody was born, she was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on her thigh that had spread to her lungs. At this point, she had been undergoing chemo for about 6-7 months. We chatted everytime we saw each other while David would talk to Patrick (he came with his mom to every single treatment). Every time I saw her, she had a smile on her face and if we were talking children you could see the sparkle in her eyes as she talked of hers.
The last time that I saw Debbie was in July. Her chemo had stopped working so they were moving on to an oral experimental treatment. I missed seeing them every week. It was kind of fun to go to chemo and see the same people...especially your friends. I have often thought about her and Patrick and wondered how they were doing. I've prayed that her new chemo was working and that she would be miraculously healed. Unfortunately for her friends and family, she passed away today. My heart aches for her sons and honestly I've cried my share of tears over her as well. Earth was just a better place because of her. I hate that she is gone, yet I rejoice that she is finally cancer-free. I hate that she is not here with her sons, yet I rejoice that she is in the presence of the SON who will continue to care for her sons.
My life was greatly blessed by knowing Debbie and I know that heaven is just as blessed tonight.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Heart Is Burdened...

Tonight was a wonderful night. It was the first meeting of the support group I started with my friend Lynne. All I can say about it is WOW!!! SEE Pink is off the ground and running. We had 2 ladies come tonight who are currently being treated for breast cancer and one of them brought her 14 year old daughter with her. We also had 2 girls who came to support the group and signed up to be a "bosom buddy." This term is what we are calling people who want to help out in some way but do not have breast cancer. We are pairing them with people in the group who are undergoing treatment to be their main go-to person if they need anything. The bosom buddies will do meals occasionally, help make arrangements for childcare, go grocery shopping, get together to hang out with/laugh with/cry with/ pray with their buddy.

Now, on to why my heart is heavy tonight and I am wondering if I really am going to be good at my new "job." AG (her initials) is one of the ladies who came to the meeting tonight. She has had her surgery but may need more and she meets with her oncologist at Vanderbilt tomorrow. She has NO SUPPORT AT ALL. She is not married, her children are grown and not there for her at all (they didn't even help after her surgery), she lives with her brother who does not help her in the least, and to top it off the one friend that she does have who was going to go with her to her to Vandy tomorrow is not taking her phone calls so she now has to go alone. I sooooooo remember the first time I met my oncologist. Even though I was a nurse and knew all of the medical terminology I was still hugely overwhelmed. I just felt like I couldn't breathe when I was leaving the office. Luckily though, I had David there with me to hold my hand, reassure me, and ask the questions that I couldn't ask. So...I pulled Lynne aside and told her that we needed to go with AG tomorrow. She DOES NOT need to go alone. So tomorrow at 12:30 we are meeting her and going with her to her appointment. We have a binder full of questions for the doctor that we give to each of our members and we've figured it out that while AG is asking the questions, Lynne is going to be taking notes and I am going to be listening intently since I have the medical background and can translate it all to AG if she gets home and has questions about the terms used or anything else. I feel great about this decision to go with her tomorrow because I know that she needs this. So I'm left wondering why I am sitting here writing this with this heavy burden on my heart. She has not left my mind since I left the meeting. I cannot shake this feeling. I guess my prayer for God to break my heart for what breaks His has been answered. I just hope now that I don't get so emotionally involved that I allow it to constantly be at the forefront of my thoughts. Or maybe that is the way it's supposed to be because when something affects my heart like this I pray constantly and I know that ultimately prayer is what these ladies need.
So, that's how the first SEE Pink meeting was in short. I'm exhausted now so I am off to bed. Oh, and please ignore any super long run on sentances I may have used. I'm too tired to even proofread this.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Updating

So I just realized that I need to update on some of the things that I wrote on the previous post. So, staying true to the format that I LOVE, here is a list :)
1. Shawnna - her scan showed that the chemo IS working. Her liver is looking better so they are pushing forward and she will continue that chemo. PRAISE!
2. Me - my MRI came back normal indicating that the tingling must be a pulled muscle or a pinched nerve. I'm thrilled beyond belief about that and the reassurance that there is NO mets to the spine. On another note though, while scanning, they just happened to find a nodule on my thyroid. My oncologist is 99% sure it's nothing related to cancer so she put this issue in the hands of my PCP. I'm waiting on bloodwork results and will have several scans next Monday and Tuesday to try to find out what this nodule is.
3. Alfreda- I was informed about this lady who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer in my city. She has no support system and has young children. I'm going to call her tomorrow and talk with her and see what I can do to help her. Please pray for her and me that I will be encouraging to her and know how to best help her.



Philippians 4:19 - And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nothing Else Matters

We are doing a new study in my church small group called "Crazy Love." It's written by Francis Chan, the pastor at Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA. I've read this book before (twice actually), but learn something new each time I read it or am pleasantly reminded of things I had forgotten. Tonight's chapter was about how short our life really is. Yes, we all think that our lives are going to go on forever...or at least 75 years, but the truth of the matter is that I could die before I even finish posting this. Or you could die before you finish reading this. So, let me share some things that have impacted me on this go round...

1. On the average day, we are so caught up in OURSELVES, that we don't consider God very much and forget that life truly is a vapor (James 4: 13-14)
2. Intellectually we all know that we will die but we do not really know it in the sense that it becomes a part of us. We do not really know it in the sense of living as though it were true.
3. When I am consumed by my problems I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are
more important than God's command to always rejoice.
4. In the context of God's strength, our problems really are small!
5. Maybe God has allowed hard things in your life so you can show the world that your God is great and that knowing Him brings peace and joy even when life is hard.
6. You never know when God is going to take your life. At that moment there's nothing you can do about it. Are you ready?
7. One second he (Stan Gerlach) was confessing Jesus; a second later, Jesus was confessing him! - this was a story about a man who was giving a eulogy at another man's funeral and the last words he said were the ones I typed in number 6. After he sat back down, he fell over and died. Can you imagine how exciting it would be to be in this position?!? One minute you are telling people who Jesus is and the next minute you are standing before God hearing Jesus say "This is who Kelly (insert your own name) is!"
8. When we face the holy God, "nice" isn't what we will be concerned wtih and it definitely isn't what He will be thinking about. Any compliments you received on earth will be gone and all tha twill be left for you is truth. (Rev. 3:1). All that matters is the reality of who we are before God.

So, I wanted to share all of this with everyone of you because we are not promised one more breath much less another 50 years. We need to get it right my friends and realize that NOTHING ELSE MATTERS EXCEPT JESUS! Not the worries and stress that consume so much of us, not the super fun times that we are blessed with, not the regular ol' run of the mill days...NOTHING...but Jesus!

Love you all. And now as always, I have a few prayer requests to mention...
1. Shawwna - was re-scanned today to see if her chemo is working and if she is in remission now. Haven't heard results yet.
2. Lisa - a lady who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and just started treatment today.
3. Me - lots of tests at Vandy tomorrow (Thursday) including an MRI to evaluate the reason for the tingling in my back
4. Heidi and Joe - a couple whom I have become friends with through blogger world. Heidi's breast cancer came back a few months ago and the chemo this time is really taking a toll on her. And...it's always hard on the support person so please lift her hubby Joe up in your prayers too.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Break My Heart For What Breaks YOURS!

These song lyrics just won't leave my thoughts tonight. Here's why...A sweet young mom called my SEE Pink co-founder today (that's the name of our new care group) and wanted to meet with us tonight for some support and to have some questions answered. We decided on a fun little coffee shop that was convenient for her and headed there at 5:30. Immediately upon arriving, I knew exactly which one was "L." She had this frightened almost child-like look on her face that I carried on my own face for weeks upon initial diagnosis. She was diagnosed with breast cancer last week and is starting to face the same decisions that I feel like I faced just weeks ago. I could tell that her mind was spinning with questions, confusion, and fear. After introductions and small talk, I found out that she has 2 teenage daughters and is currently in the middle of a divorce. While I cannot relate to not having my spouse there for support, I can imagine what it would have been like to not have anyone to talk me through those scary nights, to comfort me when I broke down in the middle of the day, or to constantly remind me that I was going to be okay. And that is not a pleasant thing to imagine. What I could relate with her on though was the fact that she has 2 children at home and I know her fears in relation to them. I just wanted to hug her neck and tell her that she was going to be okay and that the girls were too (and I'd be lying if I said that I didn't do just that).
Anyways, after sharing information with her and answering all of her questions, we told her what our vision with SEE Pink is and what we'd like to help her with... taking her to appointments, making meals, helping with her kids, answering her questions, and of course praying for her. We told her that we wanted to be as involved as she wanted us to be because we want to make this jouney she has just started to be as stress-free as it possibly can be. She seemed to appreciate it and told us that she would be in touch with us after she makes her appointments with her surgeon. I left her my surgeon's name and my oncologist's name (she is going to Vanderbilt for treatment) and hope that if she chooses to use them that she finds them just as wonderful as I do - I wouldn't trade them for a million bucks :)
So, as we were getting ready to leave, I asked L if I could pray for her, did that, and just immediately felt my heart breaking. My heart was breaking for what breaks Jesus's heart. I know He hates cancer and what it does to His children. I know He sheds tears just like we do because we are His children and He hates seeing us hurt. I also know though that He has healed me and has told me my purpose in having cancer is to be a blessing to others through serving them and to further His kingdom through my story. I find it perfect timing also that today, on my LAST DAY OF RADIATION, that God allowed me to meet L and start ministering to her.
Thank you Lord for allowing me more time on this imperfect earth in order to witness to others about the only perfect thing in life - YOU! I pray that I will be a blessing to others and that You will be glorified in me and through me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Philippians 1:12

The other day, a sweet friend encouraged me in deciding what I should do next as far as a Bible study. I was feeling really down because of some tingling I had been having in my back. Of course, after cancer, your mind automatically goes straight to the "worst that could happen." I've been told it is natural for this to happen (thinking the worst), but it was overwhelming to me how much I was being affected by this. I was a WRECK!!! I couldn't even really find any words to say to Jesus and therefore just started becoming really down...like really really bummed out. So, as I was talking to KB about this, she encouraged me to maybe not necessarily to a Bible study book, but just a study of my Bible. I decided on Philippians since it is the book about JOY throughout all things and the first day God spoke directly to my heart. It was as if He had been saving this for me for this present time.
Philippians 1:12 says "Everything that has happened to me here has helped spread the Good News!" Paul knew that his crappy circumstances were not as important as what he did with them. That is SO TRUE for me...and really for everyone. I remember when I was having my portacath placed before starting chemo that the Holy Spirit had told me that my purpose in all of this was to furthur His kingdom. Ummm, wonder if this verse was given to me on this particular day when I was feeling scared and upset to remind me that everything that has happened to me is going to help me to furthur His kingdom? I think so. Immediately after reading this passage, I meditated on it and it helped me out of that slump I was in and got my eyes focused back on what He has called me to do.
After some more thinking about all of it, I realized that once again, the dang devil was able to get at me. I had just given my testimony to 70 or so women at a breast cancer event and it went off without a hitch. I literally felt like Jesus just planted those words in my mouth. And I had real hope that if one woman there had not heard about Jesus or had lost her faith in Him because of cancer or some other thing, that she would see how AMAZING, COMPASSIONATE, PURE, and LOVING He is. Of course since I had this hope, happiness and joy I think the devil just couldn't stand it and wanted to start planting those seeds of doubt and fear in my mind. Ugh...hate him!

So, to not leave anyone wondering about my back, I did call my oncologist and talked to her about it. She really thinks it's a pinched nerve and nothing to worry about. She thinks it will heal after the radiation is over and I'm not put in these funky laying positions anymore. If it doesn't resolve within a few weeks after radiation, then I will have an MRI done and make sure it's not a disc or anything else. I'm quite confident now that I am just fine. The tingling has decreased and yesterday I actually didn't have any.

Now....a  prayer request and a praise
1. Alexis - a friend of ours who is only 22 years old and had a relapse of her lung cancer (just FYI, she has NEVER smoked a day in her life). She was originally diagnosed in January with lung cancer that had spread to her brain and stomach. She went into remission until 2 months ago and it's back in her lungs.
2. Kate (my chemo buddy) is CANCER-FREE!!! She had no residual left after her surgery. So now she's on to radiation and will be done with treatment forever!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Some Really Cool Things

This is simply going to be a list post because several really cool things have happened, but I need to make this blogging session short...but I want to share them with you while the emotions are still fresh.

1. Sunday was the kickoff of Clarksville's newest care group for breast cancer patients/survivors. My friend and I are co-founders of SEE Pink and feel as though the turnout was really good. We just know that our calling is from God and that He will bless it and bring people to us. Our first official "social" is November 19th.

2. Today I gave my testimony in front of about 70 women at a breast health seminar in town. I was a little nervous until I started talking but then everything just fell into place. The talk went perfectly, some people were tearing up as I talked (along with me), and I felt at peace with what I said.

3. After the meeting, numerous women came up to me and thanked me for sharing my story and a few asked me if I would come and talk at their groups.

4. We (the cofounder of SEE Pink and I) were able to pass out lots of information to the women in attendance about SEE Pink.

5. I got to see the radiologist again who diagnosed my mammogram as probably cancer. She took a lot of time with me that day and made sure that I was well taken care of. She was thrilled to see that I am doing wonderfully.

6. I have another talk tomorrow night at Fort Campbell Army Post for an FRG group. I'm even more excited to go there and talk and do a little exercise with them. Should be fun.

So, all in all, a perfect day!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

There's More

There is more about the race that I wanted to blog about the other day, but it was still too fresh and soon to do so. You see, while the race was absolutely perfect in every way as far as the support that was shown for breast cancer survivors and the money that was raised for breast cancer research, there was a part that was very emotionally taxing. I did not expect this at all so I guess that is why it took me by storm and shook me pretty hard. What I am talking about is the people who were there walking with shirts that read "IN MEMORY OF..." or the ones who were walking holding up pictures of their loved one who had died from breast cancer. WOW!!! I was not even thinking about that part of race day even though it's quite obvious, but believe me when I say that I am still thinking of it now and will be for a while.
During the race, we actually got behind one of the families holding up those signs and I leaned over to David and asked him if he would always wear an "in memory of..." shirt when I passed away. And then jokingly I asked him to blow up a huge picture of me and carry it the entire 3.1 miles. What he doesn't know though is that while I was joking about the picture, my emotions at that time were ones of sadness, and despair. My heart hurt for those families and then it hurt for my own family to imagine the kids and David out doing the walks without me there. And then at the end of the race, I met a girl who told me about her family member who had passed away. She had the exact same stage and type of cancer I have and had 2 small children like me. Talk about bringing it back to reality that I could very well die from this awful disease even though I have had the treatments, surgeries, etc... THAT was hard to hear.
 I have tried to put all of those negative thoughts out of my mind and remind myself that I am receiving the best care from one of the best oncologists in the nation.  However, I really need to remember that I am being taken care of medically, emotionally, mentally, and physically by the greatest physician of all - JESUS!!!!

Jeremiah 17: 5-9
Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans, who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as a dead weight. He's like a tumbleweed on the prairie out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.
Blessed is the man who trusts God, the woman who sticks with God. They are like trees replanted in Eden putting down roots near the rivers - never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf. Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New Tradition

This morning, our family set out for Nashville at 6:35 AM. We were on our way to our first ever Susan G Komen Race For The Cure. Excitement, nervousness, and reflectiveness are just a few words that describes how I was feeling on the drive down. When we got there though, my breath was totally taken away. It was literally a sea of pink. There was pink everywhere!!! People were dressed from head to toe in pink. There were men with pink wigs and tutu's and women with pink boas and leggings. I mean you name it and there it was.
The first place we went was to Race Village. There they had tents set up with vendors from all over. Free ice cream, free drinks, tons of free breast health information, free t-shirts, etc... But my favorite tent of all was the Survivor Tent. We headed in there and sat down to a hot breakfast first. It was a really special time for our family. Just looking around at all of the different ages of survivors was inspiring. I heard some saying that they were celebrating 20 years cancer free, 5 years, and then me...the new survivor with the hope and confidence that I too will be one of those ladies in 20 years still celebrating life in the survivor tent.
Around race time, we strolled the kids over to line up. We did the 5K walk and just enjoyed that time. Chloe was excited to be in a race and wanted to know if she was winning. Of course she thinks she won the race and I'm letting her think that! Anyways, at the very end of the race, they seperated the finish lines for survivors and supporters. Our family of 4 got to go down the survivor lane which was awesome. There were people lined up that were cheering for us, high-fiving us, clapping, and wishing us well as we walked down that pink carpet and underneath the pink balloon arch. I was handed a red rose and was just blown away. I started crying at that point. I was overtaken with emotion! There were actually several times today that David and I both remarked that we could just cry when we look out at everything and everybody. Someone actually came up to me and said, "I'm doing this for you." WOW! All I could manage was to hug her and tell her thank you. Again, breath taken away.
Here are a few pictures from this very special day that has now become a tradition for our family. We will be doing this race every October from this point forward.




























Friday, October 2, 2009

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Never before has an October affected me so much. I woke up this morning excited that it is breast cancer awareness month. I am excited to see all the things that will be done this month for breast cancer research, and especially thrilled to be taking part in the Race for the Cure in 9 days and the Making Strides walk in 3 weeks. I am also excited that I almost reached my goal of raising $1000 for the Susan G Komen foundation! And...my family was on the cover of Clarksville Family Magazine for this month and one of the journalists wrote an article about my story. She did a beautiful job of writing it if I may say so!

So, on with an update on radiation...things with rads are going great! My skin is doing fine...just a little pink and itchy, but as for now, no burning or anything like that. I've had 12 treatments and have 18 more to go. It truly is going by a lot faster than I thought it would. I go in every morning at 10 AM and am on the table until 10:15. It literally takes 15 minutes tops. However, that 15 minutes I have been told is equal to an 8 hour work day. And I believe it!!! By 2:00 every day I am spent. Luckily, I am sleeping (for the most part) like a rock at night - which is a nice change for me as I have NEVER slept this good in my life!
My hair is coming back like wildfire! It's very dark in color and thick. It's starting to even lay down on the sides and back now. My family loves to rub my head like I'm a good luck charm or something. Chloe especially loves it and asks me almost daily if my hair is still growing. Her little friend came over to play earlier today and he also asked me if my hair is growing back now. So cute how kids notice it. My eyebrows are also coming back and I can see them from a distance now (meaning I don't have to stare in the mirror searching for them). It's only been 6 1/2 weeks since my last chemo so I'm just shocked and thrilled with my hair growth!!!
I go back to Vanderbilt twice this month for check-ups. Next week is an appointment with the cardiologist. A while back I started having PVC's again really bad (I had them several years ago also) but I think it was a dehydration thing due to exercising and not drinking enough water. My oncologist told me to up the water and see if that would help. It did but she still wants me to see the cardiologist since the oral chemo I still take every day can have side effects on the heart. Then the week after I see him, I go back to my oncologist for my first post-chemo check-up. I'm excited to go because I just know I'm going to get good news. The Lord has provided tremendous peace to me regarding my healing.
And speaking of the Lord, these past 10 months would not have been do-able if I didn't have a relationship with my Jesus. Many people speak of religion and will ask what religion you are, but it's not all about that to me...it's more about my relationship with the Lord. You see, that is what He desires. He created us to have a relationship with Him. Mine just continues to grow and the cool thing is that the more you do talk to Him and walk in His ways, the more you crave to do those things. I don't know about you, but I want that. I want to thirst for Him. I want Him to be my top desire and focus. I recently read a book by Francis Chan called Crazy Love. Don't know if you have heard of it, but it is a MUST READ!!! I have leant mine out to a girlfriend, but I am about to go buy another copy and start sharing some of the things from it on my blog because I just feel like it's essential that readers know about this book. I am also going to be doing the book with the study guide in my small group and in a Lady's Bible Study that my friend and I are starting in November. I can't get enough of it. I also have started reading his next book called The Forgotten God (talking about the Holy Spirit) that is great so far.
OK - I know I got totally side-tracked there, but I just had to share that info with you. Please keep praying for my chemo buddy Kate. She had a double mastectomy 2 days ago. She hasn't heard yet about the results as to whether there was any residual cancer left but I will be sure to update as soon as I hear something. We did text briefly the day after her surgery and she seemed to be doing well so far.
Until next time, wear your pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and do your self-exams!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Focus Off of Me and On HIM!

Yesterday was Operation Serve. This is one day of the year that people from our church volunteer their time and go out to serve our city. We have different projects to choose from so that you can do something that you really do enjoy. Some of the projects this year were: Extreme Home Makeover...Neighborhood Edition (rebuilding and fixing up people's homes for them), a huge yard sale with all proceeds benefitting the Hope Pregnancy Center, Block Party for teens in the New Providence area of Clarksville, Fixing up and stocking Loaves and Fishes with food, fixing up some teacher's lounges at various schools, landscaping group homes, ministering to the elderly at several assisted living facilities, and there were about 20 other projects but I can't remember what they were.

So this year we had 1100 volunteers and we went out to the streets of Clarksville and tried to shine the light of Jesus as we worked. Chloe and I did the "Jump for Jesus" project while David served by making and delivering lunches to all of the volunteers. Jump for Jesus was where we went to Fieldstone Assisted Living and sang for the residents and then did a craft with them. Chloe was wonderful. She showed her big heart yesterday! She just hugged on and loved on the residents there. She was high-fiving them, laughing, all out giggling, singing, playing, etc... She was especially taken with Mr. George and Ms Isabell. At one point Mr. George went downstairs and she noticed he was down there when she looked over the loft. She asked if she could go downstairs and hug Mr. George so I let her do that. She was really concerned about him and why he wasn't upstairs anymore.

It was a fantastic day! And while it is supposed to benefit those who are being served, it never fails to benefit the one serving. I always feel more blessed after having served. Here are a few pictures of Chloe and I enjoying our time at Fieldstone.


Chloe doing a craft with Mr Keith



Love this picture. We've been talking about what it means to serve so today she got to actually put it to practice



Me and my girl at the "pep rally" worship service before everyone went off to their projects



Chloe with Mr George



Chloe with Ms Isabell



Chloe going around giving high-fives to all the men. She did this at least 5 times and they laughed everytime.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Feeling Really Lousy...

I don't know why, but since starting my radiation this past Thursday I have been so emotional. I was expecting this to be no big deal in comparison with all that I have already been through, but I'm not there yet. On Thursday when I went in for my first treatment, the session lasted about an hour. They had to mark me and get all of my measurements just perfect. In the process of doing that, they were calling out numbers, drawing on me with a Sharpie pen, and moving me and the machine all about. Now this is all NORMAL things that HAVE to be done, but I just laid on the table with tears welling up. All I could think about was "is this really my life"? I felt like such an experiment laying there as the slew of numbers were being called out and then my mind went to Chloe and her asking me before I left if radiation was going to make the cancer all better. I think it is so unfair that a 2 year old has the words cancer, chemo, and radiation as part of her vocabulary. We don't hide our conversations from our children because she is smart enough to know something is wrong but maybe that was a wrong decision. We are just doing the best we can with what life has thrown at us.
So anyways, after my session Thursday, I went back Friday with expectations that I would feel better...and I did until that night. For some reason last night I just couldn't stop thinking about the radiation and my fears of what is going to happen to my skin. I was told to expect burning, peeling and oozing because I have no breast on that side so it's directly hitting my chest wall. And the area that is having to be treated is so big! It's from above my collarbone down to about 1/2 way from my belly button, all the way over onto my left flank and up into my armpit. I may even have some issues with swallowing since it is so close to my neck area.
I know I can't let fear consume me. I don't know why I was better able to handle the possible side effects of chemo when I heard them. Maybe it's because I knew what COULD happen already. Or maybe this fear/sadness that I am having has to do with the fact that for a month, I had no treatment, no doctor appointments or anything and started actually feeling normal again and now I am back to being treated every day for 6 weeks. That's probably what it is... I am sure I will get used to this and all will be fine soon. I will take it one day at a time and make sure that I do all of the recommendations to help with the side effects of radiation. That's all I can do and I'll let God handle the rest.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Interesting Question

Yesterday I was interviewed by a journalist for the Clarksville Family Magazine. She is going to be telling my story in the October edition as October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Anyways, one question that she asked me struck me so hard. I had to sit and think for a second and then I had to email her and clarify because I didn't think that I articulated it the way I wanted to. She wanted to know if there was only one thing that I could tell Chloe and Brody about this experience when they got old enough to understand, what would that one thing be. WOW!!! Only one...well, my answer to that is that I would want them to know that God is bigger than cancer and any other circumstance that may come into our lives and that we HAVE to trust that He loves us and is working it all out for our good. He never said life would be easy...He just promised He'd be with us!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Stole This...

from Beth Moore's blog, but you see, it was too good NOT to take and share so here it is.

My Dear Sister
God has not overlooked you
He has not ignored you
He hears every petition
And intimately knows
The heart beneath it.
Give Him full access
To all your longings
Pray every single day
To become a person who delights in Him.
When it seems to disappear
Remember to check your JAW
Are you jealous?
Are you angry?
Are you worried?
Roll it all on Jesus
He's strong enough to carry it
Big enough to handle it.
Trust God with all your heart
Now leave this place
And go into the world
And do some GOOD.

The line that strikes me most on this day is the third from the bottom...NOW LEAVE THIS PLACE. That's what I feel like has happened to me. I have left the place of cancer and for the first time since January 12th when I found the lump, I feel NORMAL!!! Like really normal. I don't think about it everyday and to be perfectly honest I don't think about it that much at all. Now I'm sure that will change when I start my daily radiation in 2 weeks, but for now, I've left that place and I am FREE! I'm going to do as Beth says and go into the world and do some GOOD. Anyone want to join in?

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Big Reveal

So I have been completely busy and overwhelmed lately. The last chemo that I took on Monday kicked my booty big time! It hit me harder than any other chemo has as far as fatigue, malaise, and belly pain. HOWEVER...I am done with chemo and the Lord has restored my health from this past week and from the cancer so I'm not complaining at all.
On another note though, I'm ready to let you all in on what God has called me to do through this breast cancer. I, along with my good friend and fellow breast cancer survivor Lynne, have started a "Care Group" for ladies with breast cancer or those who are survivors. We are calling ourselves "SEE Pink." The SEE stands for Serve, Empower, and Educate. We are hoping to make connections with other women in our church to start with, but eventually want to reach the whole community of Clarksville. This is a burden (a good one) that God has placed on my heart and I am honored to be able to do it. My role in this group is to SERVE. I will be in charge of making sure that current cancer patients receive meals on chemo days, transportation to chemo if they need it, cards, care packages, phone calls of encouragement, prayer, hospital visits, grocery shopping, childcare etc... My heart is just set on making sure that these ladies want for NOTHING. Lynne is going to be more in the education role. She has a heart for educating women on early detection, testing, advocating for yourself, etc... She is an excellent, charismatic speaker who will be amazing at this role.
We are kicking off our new Care Group on October 18th and are praying that the Lord will bring people to us. We are advertising in many ways and are planning the day out already. After that initial meeting, we are hoping to get our group members together twice a month. On one of those nights, we will have a guest speaker come and talk about nutrition, exercise, makeup, etc...and then we'll just chat. The other meeting of the month will be a total girls' night out. We'll watch a movie, chat, do pedicures, cook, eat, etc...
We have started a blog and have 3 posts so far. Check it out. The first is just a welcome that goes into detail about us and the next 2 are stories about the Be Strong ring. www.seepink2.blogspot.com
We also have an email address that is seepink2@gmail.com so if you want to contact us, you can do so at that address.
Please pray God's blessings upon this venture. I know that we have been called by Him for this and that He will take care of the details.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Just Wanted to Share

I wanted to let everyone know that...

I am DONE.WITH.CHEMO.FOREVER!!!!!


I will post more details and reflections that I have had recently some time in the next few days. Not feeling so well right now.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Training Update

So the 1/2 marathon that I am running is just 12 weeks away and I am getting more excited and nervous about it. I know...12 weeks is a good ways off so I need to not get nervous about it now. I don't have a specific goal time that I want to finish it in, my goal is just to FINISH it. The coach I have been working with says that for a first race finishing should be the only goal.
So, I am running 3-4 days/week and am up to 3 mile runs per day (for the most part). Not too bad since I am still getting chemo. I admit that it has been harder these past 2 weeks because my body is taking a beating from the chemo, but that will be over soon enough and I can move on.
And that's about it...hopefully I will be able to move up to 4 milers soon. We'll see. I definitely cannot wait to be able to run outside more consistently so I am praying for cooler weather to come upon us.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I Don't Think It Could Be More Clear

If you read the previous blog entry, then you will know I have been praying for confirmation from God about the purpose to which I think He has called me. I've known all along that this breast cancer diagnosis was NOT in vain as the Lord always has a plan and purpose (Jeremiah 29:11), and now I have received my confirmation. Let me share it with you. It is a devotional dated August 7th and I read it a day late (after praying for the confirmation). Actually I wasn't late because God knew it was for me on THAT particular day and what's really cool is that I have been reading other devotionals lately so I hadn't picked this one up in quite a long time. So, on with it...

Often our struggle as Christians is not in deciding whether we should obey Christ but in obeying immediately. We may acknowledge our need to follow Christ and commit ourselves to do what He has told us. yet when God reveals His will to us that is the time to obey. God's revelation of His will is His invitation to respond immediately. Timing our obedience is cruscial. Invitations from God come with a limited opportunity to respond. Some opportunities to serve Him, if not accepted immediately will be lost. occastions to minister to others may pass us by. When God invites us to intercede for someone it may be critical that we stop what we are doing and immediately adjust our lives to what God is doing. Missing oppotunities to serve the Lord can be tragic. When an invitation comes from God the time to respond is NOW.

So the confirmation is there and I have already started pursuing my calling. I'm thrilled about it and will go into more detail later. Pray with me that the details will just all fall into place as I know they will since God is in charge.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Could it Be???

So for the past two mornings at 4 AM the Lord has woken me up for a date with Him. It's been the perfect time both mornings...perfect peace and quiet so I could sit and listen and talk to Him, and a very encouraging time in His Word. But the most exciting part is that I feel like he is FINALLY revealing to me the purpose in my breast cancer. Have I prayed for this? YES! Have I quite honestly begged for Him to reveal this to me? YES. Has there been a long time of waiting? OH YES- since the biopsy came back positive back in January!!! But I never imagined the way that he would reveal His purpose for my life to me. It came in the mail yesterday. A friend of ours sent Chloe a book titled "Mommy Without Hair" and was written as though a 4 year old was telling the story of his mom's cancer and how it affected his family. It was the cutest book and she begged me to read it repeatedly. While reading the book it was seriously like a lightbulb went off and the Lord was telling me that this is what he wanted me to do. No...not write a book although I do LOVE to write. I believe that this blog is a way to fulfill that personal love and hopefully encourage others along the way. Nope there was a particular page in the book that just spoke VOLUMES to me and I think it was the Lord doing the speaking. I don't want to go into too much detail at this time as I am praying for confirmation because the last thing I want to do is jump into something that isn't in His will, but I also don't want to put Him off either. I fully believe though that if this is from the Lord that he will increase my desire even more to do this and provide a way.
During my devotional time this morning, I just looked in my concordance for some verses on PURPOSE. This is what I found. My Bible explains Deuteronomy 1:1-2 like this in the notes "The Israelites spent 40 years on a journey that should have lasted 11 days. It wasn't distance that stood between them and the Promised Land. It was the condition of their hearts. God's purpose went deeper than simply transporting them to a new land. He was preparing them to live in obedience to him once they arrived. What good was the Promised Land if the Israelites were just as wicked as the nations already living there? The journey was a painful but a necessary part of their preparation. Through it God taught the Israelites who He was. He also taught them who they were: people who were fallen, sinful, prone to rebellion and doubt. He gave His people the law to help them understand how to relate to God and to other people. Your spiritual pilgrimage may be lengthy and you may face pain discouragement, and difficulties. But remember that God isn't just trying to keep you alive. He wants to prepare you to live for service and devotion to Him." And then finally in Esther 4:13-14, my notes explain it like this "After the decree for the Jews to be killed was given, Mordecai and Esther could have despaired, decided to only save themselves, or just waited for God's intervention. Instead they saw that God had placed them in their positions for a purpose, so they seized the moment and acted. When it is within our reach to save others, we must do so. In a life-threatening situation, do not withdraw, behave selfishly, wallow in despair, or wait for God to fix everything. Instead ask God for his direction, and ACT! God may have have placed you where you are for such a time as this."
So now the confirmation prayers begin and I 100% believe that God will give that to me sooner rather than later if this is really what he wants me to do. Please pray along with me. This would be a task that I have never done before and I will need to do lots of prep work planning, and research, but I am up for it and know that God will provide EVERYTHING I need.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Asking for Prayers

I am writing this short entry to ask everyone who reads this to please pray for my chemo buddy Kate. She is having a really hard time right now. Her porta-cath through which she gets her chemo is leaking and thus has to be taken out. She's been running a fever for a full week and they are thinking this is the cause. She still has several chemos left so pray that her veins hold out. Also she got word this week that her insurance is rescinding her coverage and thus not paying for anything. This is a HUGE ORDEAL!!! I have seen my bills from Vanderbilt and cannot even fathom having to pay for them. Being a cancer patient costs a lot physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially. Please pray that God will allow this situation to be worked out quickly and that the insurance company will be forced to pay. I can't tell you how this has burdened my heart today so I know that the burden is much worse for her and her husband. I'm praying for them and ask that you do the same.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Vacation at Vanderbilt

Well it was hardly a vacation but I can't for the life of me figure out WHY this had to happen so I'm chalking it up to God wanting me to be still and rest hence the title "vacation."
On Friday morning I woke up just feeling really lousy which isn't normal for me on Fridays. Generally I am a ball of energy from the steroids but that day was total opposite. I took some medicine, took the kids to school, and came back home to lay down. By 4:00 that afternoon I was in some serious pain in my stomach and needed to talk to my oncology nurse anyways so I called her about my chemo schedule and just mentioned that my stomach was hurting really bad. After consulting with my oncologist it was decided that I needed to get to the ER right then as it could be gallstones, appendix, or obstruction. So, I secured babysitting. David called his mom to come up ASAP to relieve the babysitter and stay the weekend, and we set off to Nashville. To make a long story short, after lots of bloodwork, a CT scan, 30 hours in the ER, and 10 hours in an actual patient room I was discharged with a diagnosis of NOTHING!!! Yep that's right. There was no found cause for the belly pain but they kept me that long to make sure I didn't have a bowel perforation which can be caused by the chemo I take. I am 100% sure I did pass a kidney stone in the ER though so that could have been some of the pain.
Now, on to the really funny part (and for some this may be TMI but it's my blog so I'm telling it). While in the ER, they gave me tons and tons of laxatives to make me go to the bathroom to be sure I wasn't obstructed. Well the only ER bathroom was NOT private, had no lock on it, and someone had already walked in on me peeing once. I was not about to even THINK about going to do the real business in that type of bathroom. Heck I won't even do that in a stall in a McDonalds. I need the privacy of my own home for that. Anyways, I explained this to the doctor and nurse and told them that I needed to be discharged if that's what they wanted to happen. Shortly after that, the nurse told me that the doctor was admitting me (I was originally observation status) and I had a room. Here's the kicker though. When we get to the unit, which I assumed would be the oncology unit, it was the GERIATRIC floor and I had a ROOMMATE!!! Yes, I was sharing a room with a 90 year old lady. But the nurse assured me that she wouldn't be using the bathroom because she had a broken hip and couldn't move. Well that's great. At this point I just had to laugh to myself and deal with it. At least she couldn't walk in on me I guess. So, the rest of the night was spent sleeping and all was well...until 7 AM when her phone started ringing off the hook. And at 8 AM when her family members started coming in to visit. Poor lady couldn't eat because she was going to surgery and here comes her niece with a big bag of McDonalds eating it right in front of her. Then her nephew comes in and told 3different stories about his previous hospital stays all of which included a story of his roommate dying. I wanted to yell at him "DUDE, I AM OVER HERE!!! SHUT IT! AND FOR THAT MATTER, WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT PATIENTS DYING WHEN YOUR AUNT IS 90 AND UNDERGOING SURGERY SOON AND HER ROOMMATE HAS CANCER?!?!?" Some people just don't think...
Shortly after that, my doctor came around and gave me the all clear to go home. Thus ending my vacation at Vanderbilt. What a trip it was...hopefully one to NOT be repeated ever again.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Update

I know, quite a boring title, but truly there was nothing more fun that I could think to title this so...
Tomorrow is chemo round number 14 which means only 2 more to go after tomorrow!!! Yes, that's right, only TWO! I cannot believe that I have made it through nearly 16 rounds and have only had 2 that kicked my butt. I knew that I would do well because I believe in positive thinking, but I NEVER imagined just how well things would go. I guess that is the power of the Lord. So, August 13th is my last chemo and we again are taking friends down to Nashville to celebrate and have another party. After that, we have a full schedule that I am totally excited about. Here's what's going on...
August 13th - last chemo and my brother Jordan and his wife Kim are coming to visit for a long weekend. So excited as I haven't seen him in almost 2 years because of deployment with the Army.
August 15th - we are having Brody's first birthday party. It's going to be just a small celebration, but a celebration nonetheless.
August 18th - Brody's actual birthday
August 21st - our FIVE year anniversary. In the past 5 years, we got married, moved from Ohio to TN, had 2 children, and have battled cancer. We pray that our next 5 years are a bit more calm!!!
August 23-28 - David and I are off to COZUMEL for a much needed adult only vacation to celebrate our marriage and being done with chemo
And then in September I will start radiation and will finish at the end of October. In the meantime, I have begun training for my first 1/2 marathon and it's going GREAT! I have logged 8 miles this week so far and hope to get in 2-3 more. I can't believe I have been able to do as much as I have while taking chemo. I'm hoping that once I finish the chemo and my body has time to recooperate that my endurance and strength will increase a lot, but until then I am taking it easy and just doing what my body feels like doing.
I have also changed my diet quite a bit. I'm eating fish most everyday for lunch or dinner now and have all but cut out red meat and pork. I'm making sure my plate is 3/4 veggies or salad and only 1/4 is protein and fruit. I've cut out processed meats and cheeses and have way cut back on refined sugars. In just the 1 week of doing this to my best ability, I have started feeling even better than before. It's amazingly true that you are what you eat.

Now, to finally wrap up this amazingly long post I want to update on my friends really fast.
Kate - my chemo buddy - is first. She is doing well. Her tumor has shrunk from 9cm to 3cm (PRAISE THE LORD!!!) and it still may shrink more as she has 4 more treatments to go. She will be having her surgery in September and then will follow with radiation. Please continue to pray that her tumor will continue to shrink and that her surgery and healing will go perfectly.
Shawnna - She is the girl I mentioned a few posts ago whose cancer returned. She is also doing remarkably well by the grace of God! The news is that her cancer has returned to the liver and bone marrow and that it IS a recurrence of breast cancer (I thought it was a leukemia at first). Her doctor is VERY positive and optimistic and Shawnna is as well. Please just remember her and her family in your prayers too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

From the Inside Out...

Just a funny story I thought I would share with my blog friends.

I put my kidlets down for a nap a few hours ago and decided that I would go and continue the training for my 1/2 marathon that I have committed to do in November. So I locked up the doors, set the alarm (because I am paranoid) and went downstairs to get on the treadmill. I jumped on and turned on my iPod...pretty loudly. I always put the songs on shuffle to keep myself guessing through my run and at just about mile 3 one of my FAVORITE songs came on. I seriously needed the pick-me-up. It's Hillsong's "From The Inside Out" and I was jamming in my heart (and outloud). I swear I just could not contain myself as I was singing out to the Lord..."from the inside out Lord my soul cries out..." and next thing I know, I am trying to stay ON the treadmill. Yep, that's right, I nearly fell off the treadmill while I am singing and praising my God. It had to be funny to the Lord because Lord knows it was funny to me (after I regained my step). I almost took one for the Lord today...
I would love to say that this is the first time that this has happened, but it's not. I actually did fall off a treadmill about 7 years ago and then I was on an elliptical 2 years ago and one leg came off so I was elliptical-ing with just the other until I could get my act together. I have a serious problem when it comes to exercise and multi-tasking I guess. If you ever see me out running, please do not honk the horn at me or stop to wave or I may get run over as I try to figure out who just did that. HA!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fire

For the past several weeks at church, we have been doing a series called Elements. I missed 2 of the weeks due to just feeling really crummy, but yesterday I was feeling great and was able to go. Praise the Lord! The topic was FIRE and it really hit home with me. Fire can be a positive thing or a negative thing. It can warm you when you are cold, or burn you when you aren't careful. It can destroy a life, or perfect a life. It can end in a beautiful masterpiece, or a bunch of ashes.
At the beginning of this year, I never expected my "element" to be FIRE, but that is what this year has been. It has been a year of burning pain, sadness, and crumbling. Physical pain from the surgeries that have left scars, emotional pain consisting of fear, anxiety, and anger, and the pain of watching and feeling the Lord break me in order to make me. As I have come through this process and am nearing the completion, I can honestly say that I am surviving the FIRE and have become a different person because of it. I have seen and experienced first hand the love and grace of God. I have felt Him turn the fire up, bring it down, place me furthur in and bring me back out. I have felt His comfort and love through every single step of this process and I know that He was always in control of that fire. He was and still is refining me...making me into the girl that He created me to be.
I know that I have a long way to go, but I am so relieved that I am a long way from where I was. I pray that as I continue on this journey that I will not allow the fire to destroy, but instead that it will perfect me into the beautiful masterpiece that God is so lovingly creating.

And as a side note...only 3 more weeks of chemo left!!! Then I get a month off before I start radiation. PRAISE JESUS!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

U.N.B.E.L.I.E.V.A.B.L.E

I am in shock! I just got word from a friend today that another "sister" who had breast cancer last year has had a recurrence and it has spread to her liver. To be honest, I have not met this girl in person, but I know a lot about her through a mutual friend. I feel like I know her because of that common thread that we share. Words cannot even say how much my heart hurts for her and her family right now. She is a mommy with 3 little girls and is only 30 years old. This hurts so bad and I just have to wonder why she is having to go through this again.

Please... I ask that anyone who may read this blog regularly or may have just stumbled upon it today, you checked it out for a reason and that reason is to PRAY! Please pray for another miracle healing for this sweet girl. Please pray for her family and friends to know what to do and how to support her and her family best.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER.

This has been THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!!! I took a whole entourage of people down today...well, 3 people and we had a birthday party like none other! It was great. I turned 32 today and I am just thrilled. There is nothing like celebrating a birthday with friends, family, and the chemo nurses who are there helping me become a survivor.
David and 2 girlfriends (Kelly and Lynne) trekked down with me this morning. Lynne baked an awesome cake for us to eat and share with the Vandy folks, and picked up some Starbucks for us too. I NEVER drink coffee so after having 2 cups I was WIRED!!! As in, my nurse came in and said I had "wild eyes" (or something like that). However, when you add coffee to lots of steroids, that's what happens. So, during the chemo my friend Lynne whipped out the pedicure materials she brought and gave me and Kelly B an awesome pedicure. Then Kelly B returned the favor to her. I sat and watched because I'm so not good at those things. Then my friend Kate who was there for her treatment joined us and we talked with her for a while. Poor David just sat listend to boobie stories all day. He's such a trooper. Love him! And by the time all of the cake eating, pedicure-ing, chatting was done so was my chemo and it was time for us to pack up and go. Too bad as we were having a good time there just hanging out and having fun.
Here are some pics to document my day...enjoy! (And although you can't tell in the pics, my hair IS coming back. I'm full of peach fuzz.



Me and Kate



My Entourage



Me and my sweet hubby.



Lynne (also a breast cancer survivor), Kelly B, and me



YUMMO-O!!!!!



Kate, me, and Lynne - saving the boobies one set at a time! HAHA



Us again being proud of our peach fuzzy heads!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Better Day...

Today was a bit rosier even though it started off by being awake and up with Chloe since 2 AM. I was a little concerned how my attitude would be due to serious lack of sleep in an already way too tired and drained body, but truly, the Lord provided the strength for me today and I was able to really enjoy my alone time with Chloe even if it was in the middle of the night.

Then, I went to my weekly chemo today at Vanderbilt. It went GREAT!!! This is the first week in 3 weeks that I have not had an allergic reaction to the chemo. WOO-HOO! The past 2 weeks were pretty nerve-wrecking. Towards the end of the infusion, it became hard for me to breathe and painful to take deep breaths. I ended up both times getting extra steroids and pain meds until the reaction went away. It was scary to say the least. So of course I went into today's treatment being a little nervous, but everything was just fine. I was also able to see my friend Kate again today and we chatted for a while. She was in good spirits today too but said she had been a little teary this week so please lift her up in your prayers that God would comfort her with his perfect peace.

Next week's chemo will be fun...it's my birthday so I've got a great friend (and fellow breast cancer survivor) and David going down with me. She is baking a cake for us and the nurses to have and I plan on just having a fun fun fun day. Birthdays are looked upon differently now. I could be bummed that I have to spend my day in chemo, but instead I am choosing to PRAISE THE LORD that I have made it to another year! Thank you Jesus!!!

So all in all, even though my day has been terribly long (and I'm about to hit the sack) I am blessed at how perfectly everything has gone. Tomorrow is my rest and recover day so the kidlets will be going to daycare for the day and the only thing on my agenda is physical therapy. Then, I plan on being in my bed or on the couch all day to rest this body of mine (Lord's orders...must obey!)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Things Are Not Always Rosy

I sure wish they were though...things always rosy that is. I am feeling quite depleted. Physically, my body is just tired. Mentally, I am spent. Emotionally, I'm done. Sounds like I'm giving up, huh? Well, I'm not, but this is the kind of day that makes me even more excited for the perfect life that heaven has waiting on me.

I'm worried. Really worried about Chloe. I am quite sure that the tantrums that she has been displaying as of late are quite the normal thing for a 2.5 year old, but they are NOT what I bargained for. Of course, who does bargain for them? No one in their right mind. I have read stories, talked with close friends, and even seen with my own eyes other kids her age doing the SAME THINGS, but it doesn't comfort me too much. I just feel like she has gotten a lot more put on her plate than most kids her age. All she knows is mommy goes to the doctor 3 times/week and one time she went and didn't come back for 5 days. She asks me nearly everyday if I am sick and if I am going to the doctor. And she has just recently begun telling me that she does not feel good and needs to go to the doctor too. She'll tell me her heart hurts (she's seen my scar and I wonder if that's what she is talking about), her belly hurts, and her arm hurts. She'll tell me she needs to get a shot and that she needs medicine too. Clearly this is not normal for a 2 year old, BUT this is what she knows at this point. And THAT is what leaves me feeling guilty and feeling like maybe I should love on her a bit more and be gentler with her tantrums. I just don't know what to do. My prayer for her is that I will extend her the same grace that my heavenly father extends to me when I have my adult tantrums.
And then guilt sets in with Brody. Poor kid! He was only 5 months old when I was diagnosed and I feel like he has really gotten the short end of the stick. Don't get me wrong, he's a VERY even tempered, well-adjusted, happy-go-lucky baby and I know that the Lord knew that I would need that type of baby at this time in my life. BUT, I feel like I am cheating him out of that special one on one time that I had with Chloe when she was his age. I haven't been able to sit with him and teach him things that I want to. I haven't really enjoyed his first year with the enthusiasm that I did in Chloe's first year. I'm sad that he is very very likely my last baby and I feel like I am missing out on all the joy that infancy brings with it. I hate thinking about him being my last baby and associating his first year with this crappy disease. I guess though that I should be praising the Lord that both of my children are young enough that they won't remember all of this.

I know I am doing the best that I can with all that I have right now, but I never feel like it's enough. I should be considering each and every day a victory because I am able to get out of bed and be a mommy to them, but instead I look at all of my shortcomings and think "wow, I shouldn't have said that," or "man, I should have just done this."

Thankfully, there is a little thing called GRACE! God's grace is enough to cover it all and get me through this thing called life. He never said it would be easy, He just promised He'd be with me.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Really Neat Thing Happened...

I was approached by my friend Lynne a few weeks ago about running in Clarksville's first 1/2 marathon. I used to be a runner and really enjoyed it, but for obvious reasons I have given that up. However, I felt like this was a great opportunity for me to get back into it with a goal to be ready by November. Plus, what a great way to celebrate becoming a SURVIVOR! Lynne is a breast cancer survivor herself who finished her treatments in March and is doing really well. So, I decided to join the team and we are calling ourselves "The Trotting Ta-Ta's." Cute, huh? I am going to give this my best shot and if that means walking part of it, then so be it, but I will make it to the finish line in November!
Here is my story that was published in our local newspaper here in TN. I thought it was a total honor to be approached to write this and am praying that many women will see this and begin or even continue to take their health seriously. Hope you enjoy!!



Hi, my name is Kelly Blevins. I am a 31 year old wife, mommy, former Pediatric ICU nurse, and current breast cancer patient. Yes, that’s right…I have breast cancer. My story started in January 2008. On the 12th, I woke up feeling God urging me to do a self-breast exam. I had never done one before but I had had lots of them over the previous 3 years due to my pregnancies. As a matter of fact, I had just had one 3 months prior that was normal. However, I just felt that I should do my own that day. Luckily, I listened to that urging and found the lump immediately. Within 2 weeks I had a mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, my first surgery, and a diagnosis of cancer. My world was rocked! Nothing was the same as it was before that breast exam, and nothing would ever be the same again. After getting results back of the first surgery, it was determined that I needed a mastectomy with lymph node removal as the cancer was more advanced than they thought (originally, they thought I was a Stage 0) The results of the mastectomy showed that it had already spread to 4 of my lymph nodes and I was immediately moved up to a borderline Stage 2/3. There is no way to describe what I felt when I woke up from that surgery to that news. I was shocked, angry, and petrified that I was going to die and leave my husband with a 2 year old and 10 month old to raise alone. It was one of the hardest days of my life to date.

Since that day, things have moved so fast and furiously. I was set up with a fantastic oncologist at Vanderbilt and am receiving chemo there. I have 16 rounds of chemo and I just finished up round #10. God has blessed me so much during these treatments. With the exception of 2, I have done wonderfully. No real side effects other than fatigue. The plan, if I don’t have to miss any treatments due to low blood counts again, is to have my last chemo on August 13th and then I will have 35 radiation treatments after that. I’ll also stay on an oral chemo until next May. Then…it’s time to celebrate becoming a SURVIVOR and I have decided that part of celebrating my new lease on life will be by running (or walking) my first ½ marathon in November. I am part of a team called “The Trotting Ta-Ta’s.” We will be running this race here in Clarksville in their first race event of this length. So excited to be a part of that! And so excited to begin incorporating regular exercise into my life. My oncologist told me just yesterday that women NEED to exercise a minimum of 3 hours per week to prevent breast cancer or breast cancer recurrence. Watch out road, these feet are about to hit the pavement and then you will never be rid of me!

So, why am I sharing my story? Two reasons…because everyone needs to realize that breast cancer does not know an age, race, or family history (I didn’t have one). It doesn’t care what you have going on in your life, what your job is, or just how busy you may think you are. It doesn’t play favorites…IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE! Self breast exams are essential to life! And the other reason I wanted to share my story is to just have one more way to glorify God through this. He has been so faithful to me and my family and has given me comfort, peace, and a time to grow deeper with him through this storm of life. This is just a little bend in my road and soon enough my road will straighten back out and I will be a better person because of all of this.

I have a blog that I started at diagnosis if you want to follow my much more detailed story from the beginning. It's www.kellysjournal2009.blogspot.com

Monday, June 29, 2009

Praying

A while back, there was a discussion that I heard regarding whether prayer really is necessary...or if prayer really works. The person was trying to make the point that if God already has the courses of our lives mapped out and He is almighty and all-knowing, then why pray for the inevitable to change? For example, if God has already decided that the end of my life will be in 3 months, then how could a prayer from little ol' me change that? I'll admit that I don't know the perfect answer to that, but what I do know is that there is a perfect example in the Bible that I came across while I was in the hospital that has just really stuck with me. And it just confirms that prayer is NECESSARY and ESSENTIAL!!
I think it was the third day that I was in the hospital. I was not really in the mood for anymore TV and just feeling empty. This ALWAYS means for me that I need to fill my heart and mind with Jesus so I grabbed my Bible and just started reading in Isaiah (one of my favorite books). In there was a story that either I have truly never read before, or one that I had read but not really focused on until that day. It's the story of King Hezekiah. In chapter 38 it tells that Hezekiah became really really sick...my version says "deathly ill." Isaiah went to visit him and told him that the Lord wanted Hezekiah to get everything in order and take care of everything because he was going to die...that he would NOT recover from his illness. Immediately after hearing this, he PRAYED, and then he wept (that word to me just makes me think of someone crying to the point of not being able to capture a breath...I've totally been there). Guess what God did! He sent Isaiah back to him with this message: tell Hezekiah that I heard his prayer and saw his tears and I will add 15 more years to his life.
WOW WOW, and WOW!!! How awesome is that?!?!? This is yet another example showing how we, as God's children, can go to Him and lay it all out there and know that He is hearing every word we say and seeing every tear we shed. And that prayer DOES change things!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Since my last post, lots has happened. I ended up calling my doc that Friday evening and was sent to the ER then. When I got to Vanderbilt, my temp was 100.8 and I was SICK SICK SICK! I ended up staying for 4 nights and 5 days for a white blood cell count of 1.7 and a neutrophil (ANC) count of 0. My fever continued until Sunday night and then broke...probably thanks to the heaps of IV antibiotics I received while there. I also was the lucky recipient of a head CT and spinal tap to rule out viral meningitis thanks to a severe headache and neck pain. In the end, there was never an explanation for the fever or decreased white count. All of my cultures came back completely normal so I'm a mystery. I joked with my resident that I could be the prime candidate for that TV show "Mystery Diagnosis."

I do feel like I have some reason though for why I was hospitalized. I think my body just needed the rest. I think God wanted me to really have some rest and knowing exactly how hard-headed I am and how much I like to go and do, I think that this was the best way to get my attention and help me realize that resting is essential even if I feel okay. I think I had run myself down so much without really realizing it that my counts bottomed out and I had no reserve.

One pretty amazing thing did happen while I was at Vandy though. On my third day, my friend Kelli sent me a message saying that she had just been in despair over my sitaution. She had gone to the Lord in prayer and was literally crying out to Him so hard that she couldn't even breathe well. She then told me that all of a sudden her tears stopped and she couldn't cry anymore. She said when that happened, she heard God's voice telling her "SHE IS HEALED." Ummm, can you say WOW?!? The next day my counts skyrocketed and my headaches all but stopped. And I don't think this is where the healing has stopped. No way... I truly believe that I am healed fully and completely and the rest of chemo and radiation are just steps in the process that I have to go through to learn, grow, and furthur this process that God has begun in me.

So, all in all. I am thankful for my hospital "vacation." It was hard to be away from my kidlets, but I came home feeling better. I was able to get my chemo yesterday and all went well with that. I did try to hit the grocery store this morning, but on my way, I had a severe headache so I turned around and came home. Now I am resting and feeling great. What can I say? Sometimes it takes a while to break old habits. I will learn though that Fridays (the day after chemo) are for resting no matter how good I think I feel.

Thank you all for your prayers and concerns over me the past week. I have been blessed with an amazing group of friends, prayer warriors, encouragers, and family.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Expect the Unexpected

Went yesterday for my chemo treatment and came home without it. After having my labs drawn, we discovered that I am neutropenic. This means that my white blood cell counts are low (1.5 to be exact) and my neutrophil count is 0.09. My doctor is very aggressive with treatments so for her to hold off on it, I knew it must be serious. I was a little disappointed, but I know it's for the best. She told me that if I had the chemo that I would end up in the hospital and that I may end up there anyways if I get a fever. There is really nothing I can do to raise my count except to pray that it comes up. And what I can do to keep it from totally plummeting is strict handwashing, avoiding crowds, no fresh veggies or fruits, and pretty much just laying low and letting my body rest.

Unfortunately, it's 4 AM right now and I awoke to a severe headache so I got up and took Advil. Then I realized that I should have taken my temp to be sure it was normal before I took the pain reliever. Took my temp and it's 100.6. My oncology nurse told me yesterday to come to the ER with any fever over 100.4. GREAT! So now I am sitting here blogging instead and just trying to decide if I should just wait a few hours to see how I am, or if I should go wake up David and get some bags packed. I mean I know I should go on in probably because without the Advil in my system my temp would probably be higher than that. Luckily, my parents are here visiting so I have them to watch my kids. I tell you, God is in every detail right down to childcare. If my parents were not here, I would be freaking out probably about what I would do with the kids in case I am admitted.

God knew this was going to happen though. He's not surprised. Yesterday, I called my mom while waiting for my chemo and told her about the labs and then asked her to pray that I would get my treatment. She told me that she would not pray that but that she would pray God's will to be done. So that's how I changed my prayers too. I did not get the answer I was looking for at that particular time, but I am so glad now that I didn't get the chemo or I would be really really sick right now.

Well, I'm off to page my doctor on call I think and see what they recommend and will go from there. Updates later.