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