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 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! 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'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!