Friday, December 31, 2010

My One Word

Each year people make New Years Resolutions. They last for about a month...maybe a tad more, much more likely a lot less. I stopped 2 years ago making New Years Resolutions and have instead switched to focusing on just ONE WORD for the upcoming year. I have had the words EMBRACE and RESTORE the past two years but for 2011, my one word is REVIVAL. In times of revival, God's people experience His presence and power to degrees never thought possible. When revival comes, the giant will not only stir and awaken, but also move with dynamic power and glorious impact.
I am praying that 2011 is a year of major revival for me. I have experienced the healing hand of God, the restoration of who I am, and now I am ready for God to unleash an incredible revival in me. I want to feel the presence of the Lord and see Him move in ways I would have never imagined all while He receives the glory back for it.
I'm excited to see what 2011 will bring for me and my family. I challenge all of my readers to choose one word and not make resolutions that you will break in a day, a week, or a month. There is a website you can google: My One Word and there you can have accountability, encouragement from others with your word, and some questions to answer each week to mark any progress that has been made or anything that the Lord has done for you in regards to your word.
Many blessings to each of you. I pray we all get our word and grow in that tremendously over this next year.

If you choose to do this, leave a comment with your word and why you chose it.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ironic

Before I go into what is ironic, let me quickly update on my appointments yesterday at Vanderbilt. I had my 6 month ECHO check which at first came with bad news. They told me my heart function had dropped from 65% (55-65 is normal) to 47%. I took the news just fine with a peace surrounding me like crazy. I never worried about it or got bent out of shape AT ALL! I mentioned it to my oncologist who looked into it, saw that it was originally misread and that the cardiologist said my function was ok at 55%. Whew...I'll take that - a normal reading. My next ECHO will be again in 6 months. Then I went to have labs drawn...3 sticks later they had enough blood for the 6 tubes they needed. My blood counts came back "normal for me" and all is good. My oncologist gave me the all clear and I will go back in 3 weeks for my 6 month MRI check. I'm so relieved that I have no more appointments for the year 2010! Thank the Lord!

Now...on to the more important business...IRONIC! This whole week I have been praying and hoping that the Lord would reveal some new things about Christmas to me through His Word that I have never really taken in before. We all read the story of Christ's birth in Luke 1 and 2, but this year, I decided to read from each gospel. The first thing that was revealed to me was from Matthew...the lineage of Jesus. Can we all say imperfect. We have Rahab, Tamar, Bathsheeba, even King David who had some sketchy moments in his life yet was known as a man after God's own heart. And then have you ever picked up on the fact that Ruth is mentioned in the bloodline of Jesus even though she was a Gentile and not a Jew. See...he came for everyone and it even dates back to waaaaay before he was born.
Then this morning is what got me the most. I got up, turned on the Christmas tree, grabbed myself a diet coke (not in a coffee mood lately) and started doing my Bible study. The topic today? DEATH. What?!? Death...when we are celebrating the birth of our Savior? Hmmm...so I settled in, soaked it all in and the Holy Spirit started speaking to me.
Jesus was completely fine living a perfect life in Heaven with God.
He came to this fallen world as a human...a baby. Born in a barn stall with animals surrounding him.
He was born to die.
He was born to die for me and you and all of mankind and did just that when he was crucified.
His death equals our eternal life.
He was born to conquer death.

So as my family celebrates the birth of baby Jesus, I will remember that this sweet little baby was born with the specific purpose to die for me. How humbling is that? How much love that expresses! I pray that each of you, as you celebrate Christmas, will remember that not only was Christ born on this day, but that he was born to die so that we can live with Him forever.

"Greatest man in history, named Jesus, had no servants, yet they called Him Master. Had
no degree, yet they called Him Teacher. Had no medicines, yet they called Him Healer. 
He had no army, yet kings feared Him. He won no military battles, yet He conquered the 
world. He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him. He was buried in a tomb, yet He 
lives today."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another Eye Opener

Today as I sit here and both children are napping, I have had my quiet time with my Saviour and I prayed afterwards and asked Him to please help me to write this blog. I'm praying that what my heart desperately wants to get across comes through perfectly - as though written by Him.
My lesson today in the study I am doing was called "UNMET EXPECTATIONS." Really. That's what it was called and I just kind of chuckled as I started it. Then, I ended up in tears realizing that all through Scripture our ancestors/legacy experienced unmet expectations too. The disciples expected things of Jesus since He was right there with them and when He didn't deliver (in their eyes,) they got bent out of shape, scared, and desperate. I'm actually referring to the passages about after Christ fed the 5000 (which made the disciples mad because they wanted to send the crowd away) He sent the disciples back to the boat while he climbed a mountain alone knowing the fercocious storm that was coming. The storm started and the disciples started freaking out wondering where Jesus was, why he wasn't there to save them. They actually, according to Mark got mad and their hearts were hardened. We are like them, we look for God but when we can't find him, and the pain sets in and expectations go unmet, doubts begin to surface.
This is where I have been. UNMET EXPECTATIONS. I actually got irritated at a friend who asked me "what if God chooses not to meet your expectations? Have you thought about that?" What I wanted to do was scream at her..."are you kidding me right now?!?!? I haven't come this far, been through this much for 23 months for the finality of things NOT to work out." That thought honestly never crossed my mind.
Then when I was put in the hospital 2 weeks ago, my expectations were yet again taken away from me. I was one step away from finality. ONE STEP AWAY. I've since realized that my heart had slowly, since July when I started reconstruction become hardened by unmet expectations. My pleadings for help, pain relief, and helaing were salted with angry questions. Why was this process so much worse than the 16 chemo treatments and 35 radiations? Why was this process so painful when it was supposed to be the happy part?When the decision was made to remove the tissue expanders and stop reconstruction for at least a few years I did it because I felt like the Lord was telling me to stop. To stop the pain, suffering, and wasting of precious time with my husband and children. That this was not the time for it. I have stopped wondering why all of this and then nothing. I have stopped wondering if I didn't obey God's desires in the first place. I have stopped and put all of that behind me. As Paul says in Scripture, I have put the past behind me and am focusing on the future. None of that matters anymore.
Today, I am Kelly Blevins, 22 month cancer survivor, no current thought of reconstruction, just focused on serving and honoring my Lord, my family, and my church. I am happy...no thrilled at how amazingly well I feel. It feels wonderful to NOT be on medicine for pain and muscle spasms for the first time since July. It feels wonderful to feel like Kelly. It feels wonderful to smile and be grateful for the little things in life. It feels wonderful to know that God has promised to work ALL things together for the good of those who love him.
I am excited to celebrate the birth of Jesus with my 2 and 4 year olds. I am excited to go see my new niece in Seattle in January and then go on a ski excursion with my husband and our friends later that month. I'm looking forward to things in life again and this feels good. God knew exactly what he was doing when he didn't meet my expectations because I can tell all of you that this has ALL worked out for the good of me...and those whom I love most.

Romans 11:33 - Oh how great are God's riches and wisdom and knowledge. How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and ways.

Oh, and I almost forgot...my labs are 100% normal...so that is one expectation that was met this week!!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Glimpse Into My Week

Since there is so much going on this week, I get to tell you about it in list form...my favorite. It's 7 AM and I am awake with my sweet Chloe who is doing her ballet routine to "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" over and over again and I couldn't think of a better was to start my Sunday morning than blogging while I watch her being ADORABLE.

1. Today, I am choosing to stay home from church and out of the cold. Since my blood counts are still wacky I don't want to be around anyone who is sick.

2. Monday, I have repeat bloodwork done which will determine quite a bit I think. I also have Physical Therapy that afternoon. Luckily our main babysitter is home from college and is here for me all week. I love her, my kids love her...she rocks.

3. Tuesday, I get to go vent all of my feelings out to my counselor who I decided to start seeing a few months ago when I couldn't stop grieving Kate and it started affecting our family. I haven't seen her in a while so I am glad to go. I will also get my lab results this day.

4. Wednesday, I go back to my plastic surgeon whom I adore and will discuss labs, and hopefully get my drain out. May talk about future possibilities but may not. It will depend on how I feel. David told me last night that Dr Oslin told him that he was so glad that I agreed to let him take the expanders out instead of just chancing that the infection wouldn't be there. He then said that he could tell the pain I suffered and a cracked rib from all the pressure of them was affecting my quality of life big time...especially with children as young as ours. That made me feel better and smile. He really cares about me and my family in ways most doctors don't.

5. Thursday, I will see my oncologist to go over my labwork with her and figure out what is going on with my body. Is something going on? Is it just taking me an extra long time to heal? Are the tripled white blood cells due to stress or multiplying cancer cells, or just another infection of some sort. I'm not focusing on this though as this same day my sweet Chloe and I have our annual girls trip to the Opryland Hotel to spend the night and see the Rockettes and walk miles all over the hotel. We are also going to ICE which will be lots of fun. I had thought about cancelling because of how bad I feel, but I am hoping to be feeling lots better by then. And if I don't, we are still going because she is so worth it!

6. Friday - NOTHING!

7. Weekend - family time and nothing else. It's time to start getting quality family time back and enjoying life again. We may go down to the riverwalk and take in the lights, we may have game night with our kids, we may just lay on the couch and do nothing. I don't know...all I know is that I will be doing the weekend with my family.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Update # 3.475 million...because ya'll have been left hanging.

Im going to start off with how things were when I left this hospital on Monday, the 6th. I was excited to be leaving, but knew that none of the realizations would hit until I got home and real life hit. So to put me in a better mood and avoid getting home 20 minutes earlier, David stopped by Target but only agreed to do so if I took the "Jazzy" for a spin (upscale mart-cart). I figured why not, I have my bedroom slippers on too so I might as well. I went joy riding all over that place for about 15 minutes then I was exhausted. I hit a few displays and employees,, but they accepted my first time driver apology and life went on.
As I imagined, both kids were just so excited to see me and David. They couldn't believe I was there to stay. we snuggled in together and just layed there as a family. It was glorious. I missed my family so much up on the oncology ward that there were times I would sit and cry for them when I was alone.

Then Tuesday happened and it was a horrible day. I could barely move off the couch or bed and I was sore. Luckily the kids had school that day so there was a 5 hour window of peace/sleep/rest etc...my body could have and I used my time very wisely.

Wednesday came and came with a vengenance. I couldn't speak, swallow, eat, drink, etc... I knew it wouldn't be strep with all of the IV antibiotics I had been on. Got in to see my PCP and explained it all to him. It's thrush...a fungal infection caused by all of the wonderful IV antibiotics I was taking. So, I am now on Cipro still trying to kill bacteria and Diflucan orally to try and kill fungus. My body is working itself to death as my last set of labs that have come in show it,
White Cells: In Hospital :7.23           Now: 14.1
Neutrophils: don't remember            Now: 84% (normal is less tha 60)
Hemoglobin 9.2                               Now 10
Hematocrit   29                                Now 32.7

Still very weak and walking to my mailbox makes me short of breath and extremely exhausted. I go see my plastics guy tomorrow to remove stitches and a drain  I hope. I will talk to him about these labs and I have also emailed my oncologist for her opinion as well. My white count should be way low considering all the drugs I've fought my infection off with.
I have to thank every single one of you who changed your schedules and found sitters etc...to come visit me in the hospital. It brightened  my day by seeing all of you and enlarged my heart just that much more. THANK YOU!

Maybe there will be more to update about these crazy labs tomorrow or as I find out. Sometimes knowing too much (like little ms nurse right here) can have us dead and in a coffin in a pretty outfit before the doctor has even said hello.

Ways you can pray and ways I have been praying:
1. I am wondering why in the world God would allow suffering since July 12 when all of this process started knowing the end result.
2. I am wondering why in the world he would allow my latissitmus flap surgery in October to go off easily knowing what the big picture would be.
3. I am wondering why I made it to my very last fill up and was done with  everything until the exchange surgery in January and then this happens and everything has to come out.
4. I am wondering if I didn't hear God, pay attention to His true desires, and maybe I should not have done a thing for reconstruction to begin with.
So, pray for my personal restoration with who I am, who God says I am, that I will very soon feel like being on the floor with my babies playing pretend, and that I will be making David meals with a loving and full heart. I want more of a quality of life than I could ever have imagined
THanks Blogger Friends

Monday, December 6, 2010

Going on One Hour

Morning readers,
It's now going on one hour that I called out for the first time to ask for my pain medicine that was due over an hour ago. I called out again just about 20 minutes ago and if I don't get it soon, I'm going to go walking around the halls until I find my nurse and can personally tell her I'm hurting. If she could simply see the look on my face and the fact that there are tears rolling down it right now, I'm sure she wouldn't hesitate, but that's the problem. She is so busy tonight that she hasn't seen me but twice. I could turn into one of those annoying patients that hit my nurse button every 5 minutes but I really don't even think that would help.

So instead, as I sit here in a lonely bed, on a lonely oncology floor at 3:45 AM waiting for some pain relief, I will fill you all in on what is happening and share a few pictures just for laughs that David and I took 2 nights ago when I was really feeling good.

Yesterday I woke up feeling absolutely horrible. I knew something wasn't right as I was back bundled under as many blankets as possible and was just feeling yuck. My doctor came in soon thereafter with a look that said "you aren't going anywhere for a while missy." We discussed somethings and came to the conclusions that my red blood counts are dropping. My Hemoglobin which carries the iron throughout my body was 10.3 when I came in and was now 8.8 (close to transfusion level in oncology world), My Hematocrit which deals with overall blood volume percentage had dropped from 33 to 29. Anything below the 30's isn't that great. And my total RBC's had dropped from almost 4 to nearly 3. NOT GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION FOLKS. Other than that, the CT scan I had of my chest and arms turned out to show no metastasis or bone infection. My white count had come down some showing improvement in my overall infection status which is great seeing as how I have been on 4 antibiotics for 7 days now...Vancomycin and Cipro being the 2 big dogs. For now though, what I am most concerned about is my red blood counts droping (Connie brought my pain meds so we are good there now). I think I am going to call my oncology nurse in the morning and make her aware of what is going on. I am at St Thomas Hospital which is where my surgeons are yet my oncologist is at Vanderbilt, about 5 minutes away. If they were here or I were there, this would be so much easier to communicate.
I will update when I talk to my onco nurse in a  few hours and when I get my labs back hopefully in the next 2 hours.

Now though, come some funny/ironic/ridiculous pictures that David and I couldn't resist taking. This is our dark side of cancer humor coming out so just realize if you have never had cancer or known anyone who has, you may not understand that if you don't laugh about it then most times you will cry.

Seriously...penthouse?!? Oncology unit people...just one step underneath heaven. We could have at least been put on the 5th floor or something like that.

My door room stating visitors must check with nurse first and that that lab cannot draw my labs because I have a venous access device (sounds important, huh?)

Seriously, this is one of the pictures hanging in the entrance way to the unit. MORBID!

2 cherubs deciding which will be the next one to join them... again, morbid sense of humor

This kept my sweet, uninfected, non-febrile kids off of my unit. I was able to go hang out in the family room with them though and go to the cafeteria. Fun times there! The best part was being wheeled around with Chloe on one knee and Brody on the other and watching them run around in an empty lobby. We seriously thought they were going to knock Mary Mother of Jesus statue down and then I knew I better not be going back up to the penthouse or I would not be coming back down (just kiddin)

This is my PICC line. It's a central venous access device that they give you when they can't get you with an IV. Mine was 37cm long and was threaded from my arm into my SVC 
(just above my heart atria) I just like it cause it's purple and I have never seen any PICC that wasn't blue.

This button kept me from hurting most days. It's the morphine pump button.
My friends came up one night and all signed my board. Since it's right in front of my bed, it's cheered me up a lot to look at it

And of course right above every board in every room there is a Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. Someone asked me if I actually brought that from home and hung it up...uh, no. Not that I don't love Jesus and am eternally grateful for what he gave up for me, but not a choice of art for me.

And of course what is a hospital room without a bedside commode?!? Every man's dream I think...to not have to miss anything on TV while they do their business. HA!












Thursday, December 2, 2010

Good Grief Charlie Brown

I just read last night's post and can totally tell that I wrote that while I was on the morphine drip. There were only half written words, grammatical errors, etc... that just aren't normally me.

So here is a short version of what has occurred today. My pain pump and IV Fluids had to be stopped because my IV came out this morning. After about an hour of not having the pain medicine, my back started hurting again, it hurt to walk, my chest was hurting and my left arm...everything just like it was Sunday night. So after about 2 hours, I finally got what is called a PICC line in. One thing that excites me is that it is PURPLE! As a nurse I only have ever seen blue ones so I feel really special getting a purple one. The next thing is that they did it right in my room which  made me a bit nervous (ok, a lot nervous) because they are wire guided ports that go through your arm veins all the way through your big veins in your upper body and down into the Superior Vena Cava...right at that heart atria.

My nurse is in here now to restart the pain meds so I am off.  Surgery is still set between 4-6 and David will update Facebook after surgery.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Turn For the Worse..Or the Better - just depends

I am so glad that I have a passion for writing so that I can update everyone at the same time on everything that is going on with the Blevins family and our struggles through breast cancer. I cannot imagine having to send out 18 million texts, then emails etc...I would go crazy and that, we all know, is NOT where I need to be right now. No, the Morphine pump they have me on is doing it's job in that department.

So, back to the point. Sunday morning, I woke up feeling crappy. Didn't want to shower, didn't want to go to church, didn't want to do anything...except lay back down on the couch under 4 blankets. I was freezing. However, I decided that I would go on to church and partake of the communion which is a very holy sacrament to me and my family. After church, we came home, David took over and I crawled right back into my jammers, under my 4 blankets and called my surgeon. He asked about a fever to which I replied "no" but had not taken yet and then said he wanted to see me Monday morning in his office which is in St Thomas Hospital. After we hung up, I grabbed the thermometer and wouldn't you know...100.8. And that's not good in a still immunocompromised patient. The chemo I finished last year, will continue to affect my blood counts for about 3-5 years

Anyways, I went to on to Dr Oslin's Monday morning with my friend Lynne in tow. She thought of everything...including packing  back in case I had to stay, and arranging overnight care for the the babies in case... David HAD to go to his last visit to his UT Martin store so it was all okay really. Everything was working out. Got to see the doctor and he pretty much immediately knew he was going to admit me, give me IV fluids, IV antibiotics, and try to figure out where the infection was coming from.

So, since Monday I have been hooked up to IVS, drains, Morphine pumps, etc... The light of my life was today when Chloe and Brody were allowed to come visit in the family play room. We went down there and spent some time talking and explaining what was going to app

So the plan...tomorrow, at 4:00 pm, I will be headed down to the OR for my 8th and final surgery. The tissue expanders have become dangerous as they are infected and the infection is spreading to other parts of my body...such as my shoulder blade.

Thankfully, we just finished the sermon serioes on Job and I really am not questioning "why" because I know WHO!" And I can rest eas

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The "what" doesn't matter when you know the "WHO!"

So let's just be honest here. This may be a longer post so kick off your shoes, sit back, get comfortable and relax and I share my feelings and what I have learned along the way over the past 6 weeks. We just completed a sermon series on Job and each small group did a six week study on the book of Job that was put together by one of our pastors. As first, I was thrilled for this series. Super excited. Came first week, Bible in hand, sitting in the 4th row as usual and worshipping during the music because I knew that this series was for me. Annnnnnnnnnnnnd that is where the excitement stopped. Ended. Gone. Dead. Instead, I left feeling anger, fury, discontent, unsettled, etc... I even emailed the pastor twice during the six week series asking him WHY was this series so hard for me to hear. That I couldn't even go to church one week because I was sick of it. I told him I felt like I was living Job for the past 2 years and certainly didn't need to hear about it. I was living proof. Modern day Job. I just couldn't sit through another Sunday of it.
In the beginning of my diagnosis, just like in the beggining when Job lost everything, he chose to praise the Lord above. So did I...hence the name of my blog. But as time passed as it did for Job and myself, we both began to question everything, and we both had some friends that said some pretty harsh things to us along the way. I actually called one of my friends (not to her face) Eliphaz...Job's friend! I mean how dare she say something to me like she said and have no clue the shoes I have walked in for 2 years. Geesh! I think it was meant out of love, but I am not so sure it wasn't more of an arrogance thing. Then I've had a friend take some of my pain pills when I wasn't looking. Yeah, great friendship there. You see, I relate a lot to Job and I know each of us do to some degree, but I'm really feeling him right now.
Well, this past Sunday, things changed. God finally spoke to Job. God finally spoke to Kelly. God finally said some pretty eye-opening things to the both of us.
Job 38: 1-7 : Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind. Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man because I have some questions for you and you must answer them. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you know so much? Who determined it's dimensions and stretched out it's surverying line? What supports its foundations and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
Job 38: 1:19-22: Where does light come from and where does darkness go? Can you take each to its home? Do you know how to get there? But of course you know all this. For you were born before all this was created and you are so very experienced. Have you visited the storehouses of snow or seen the storehouses of hail?
Job 38: 1:31-33: Can you direct the movement of the stars-binding Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion? Can you diret the sequence of the seasons or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? Do you know the lasws of the universe and can you use them to regulate the earth?

The Job replied to the Lord: I know that you can do anything and no one can stop you....I take back everything I said and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.
HUMBLED and HUMILIATED...that's how I felt last Sunday in church. I felt like Job did when God started asking him all of the questions and turned the tables. I have spent much of my time since July asking why...why is this reconstuction worse than anything by far? Worse than chemo, worse than radiation, worse than my 3 prior surgeries. Why all of the severe pain now. This was supposed to be the happy joyous part of breast cancer. But you know what? I've grown. I have grown to really know deep in my heart that if all God ever replies to me is "Trust Me" then I will trust Him. For He is who He says He is all throughout Job. The what doesn't matter...the breast cancer, pain, emotional turmoil, physical scars, worn down body...none of it matters since I KNOW THE WHO...The Great Physician

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quickly

Because the kids are needing some attention and I am needing some pain medicine, this will be quick...promise!
Went back to my surgeon today. Drain is still draining right at 100 mls/day so I still have Darcy as my sidekick. It's okay. I knew she wouldn't be coming out today and honestly I am used to her now so...whatever.
I also got my final expansion in the left breast and will have one more expansion next Wednesday which will be the final one for the right side.
I am doing much better this week emotionally. I'm getting sleep now which I see is helping a lot. For weeks I was only getting 3-4 hours each night so my doctor prescribed some Ambien and that made for one great night sleep last night.
OK - that's all for now friends. See, this was short for me!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yet Another Update

This one will be short and to the point...incisions are healing perfectly. Drain is STILL in. I am 3 weeks post-op and am shocked that the drain is still draining over 100mls/day. This is craziness. However, Darcy (yes, I've named her as she has been stuck in my side for 22 days now) and I are doing just fine. I don't have pain or irritation from her anymore. I'm able to be a pretzel with my arms and change my own drain dressing now, and I have learned how to take a tub bath, wash my armpit and not get the drain wet. Trust me when I say that that in and of itself is quite a feat.
My mood has been elevated to the top of this world. I am enjoying my precious time with my children and husband. Chloe and Brody crack me up every single day and I have been able to tell Satan to take a hike more than once and be victorious over him. WOO-HOO! Speaking of my sweet babes, Brody asked me this question yesterday in the most serious voice ever while pointing to my drain..."mommy, is dat ur iPod?" OMgoodness! I about fell off the couch laughing at him. I've had Darcy for 22 days and it's like he has just now noticed it...and he thought it was an iPod. HA!!!! Chloe quickly corrected him and told him that it was in fact called a drain to which he replied "oh, a dwain." So stinking cute. If you are not laughing by this point, I guess you just had to be here.
Other than that, the plan is as follows...
1. I will go back next Wednesday, the 17th to hopefully say goodbye to Darcy and get my final expansion. Trust me when I tell you that I feel like I have Mt Ranier sitting on my chest. I've not had a left boob in 2 years so for me to look down and see a freaking mountain made from a mole-hill (hahaha) it's slightly funny, shocking, exciting, weird, etc... All I can say is Dolly is not the only girl in Tennessee now with a good set of girls.
2. Then, I wait. I will wait and live in the tissue expanders until the end of January when I will then have the exchange surgery which is the FINAL step! They will remove the expanders, have enough stretched skin and muscle to place the implants in, and off I go with a set of forever perky girls...all paid for by insurance! While I am sure David would like me to keep the mountains I have for now, I will NOT be doing that. I just don't think I can handle all of that in my face all the time.
3. Two weeks after that surgery, I will have my 6 month MRI to check for recurrence of the cancer which I am confident will come back just fine.
3. And finally, the week after my MRI, David and I head off to our annual Chick-fil-A seminar for a 3 day seminar and an extra 4 days of luxury time alone in San Antonio, TX. This is very symbolic as I will be celebrating my 2 year cancer free mark at seminar again this year. I love that I am surrounded by my Chick-fil-A family when this anniversary comes around each year.

Oh, and in the midst of all that, I will be flying out to Seattle to visit my brother, SIL, and my new baby niece Adalynn. I'm going by myself so I can be selfish with my time with them. I cannot wait to get that sweet baby girl in my arms and see her mommy and daddy. I missed Brody's infancy period due to the cancer treatments, and Adalynn will be the age he was when I was diagnosed so I can foresee lots of cuddling, rocking, snuggling, and loving on her while I am there.

Well, maybe this wasn't as short as I had intended it to be, but now you have my whole itenerary from next week through the end of February :)
Thanks for all of your prayers for me since my last few blog posts. Love to each of you!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Psalm 103...

Today I texted my friend Erin and asked: Hey friend, what do you do when you don't feel God and feel so far away? I feel like he doesn't even care about me anymore...like He is tired of my problems. I know there are times he chooses to be quiet like in the beginning of Job, but I need to hear him. Like now!

Her response: I'm right there with ya girl!1 All I know is these are the times to trust wholly in His Word which are promises and His character which is good. That takes faith! Check out Psalm 103 :)

So I did that when I put Brody down for his nap. I opened my Bible to Psalm 103. I read it. Read it again, and then read it a third time. Finally, I got out my highlighter and went to town highlighting these verses specifically:
Psalm 103: 2-5: Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things.
Psalm 103:13-14 : The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionsate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.

It does help to know that God knows how weak I am and that He is tender and compassionate to that. It also helps me to remember and even list off all of the good things he has done for me in these past two years especially.

A big thanks to my friend Erin who directed me to that Psalm for today's time with God. And a huge praise to God for ALL of the good things he has done for me.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Where Have I Gone?

I sit here with tears streaming so hard that I can hardly even type. I have been stretched further this week than I ever wanted to be. I am an emotional basket-case, a physical mess, and I am beginning to really just want to run away and never come back. I want to run away from the mess that my life has become over the past 2 years.
I don't want to be only known as the "young girl who got breast cancer," "the Chick-fil-A owner's wife," "the mom with the drain hanging out of her side for 2 solid weeks now and hasn't been able to shower yet," "the wife who can't keep her cool when her house is a disastrous mess because no one can clean it but me," "the young mom who has had 5 surgeries in 2 years but everyone looks up to," etc... There is NOTHING to look up to. There is nothing to admire. There is nothing that I have done that I am proud of. There is nothing I would choose to do again.
I am angry. I just want to be Kelly. I don't want anything that has been attached to my name over the past few years. When am I going to ever get to be just Kelly again? The answer: NEVER! I can never go back and re-do things. Alcoholics CHOOSE to drink, Addicts CHOOSE to use drugs, People who shake their babies CHOOSE to do so...well, I didn't CHOOSE breast cancer and I did NOTHING to deserve the consequences of it. I am tired of putting on the happy face and telling people that everything is okay, that we are managing just fine, that we don't need anything, that all is well, etc... It's all a lie people. It's all a lie. I need help. I can't lift the lemonade pitcher to pour my kids some juice. I can't get the laundry out of the hamper because it sends me into severe pain from the surgery. I can't reach up into the cabinet to grab a plate because of the pain that goes shooting through my arm and chest. I can't sleep in my own bed because of the way I need to prop to just get comfortable. I can't pick up my house without paying for it later. I can't stand in the kitchen and cook a nice meal because by the time I've done that and cleaned up the mess, I am hurting and extremely exhausted. Little things exhaust me. Having lost so much blood does nothing for my energy level and it just sucks.
What I wouldn't give to be able to just go on walks with my kids, sit on the floor and play with them, fix meals for my family, take the kids to do fun activities, pick them up and hold them tight, hug my husband without flinching in fear that he is going to touch my incision, sleep in my own bed, take a shower, and just live a normal life.

I know that I have a lot to be thankful for too, but for today, I just want to get my feelings out and heard and be honest and authentic. I am closing the comment section of this particular post because I don't want any negative feedback. I just want to vent and I want people to let me do so without trying to fix the problems I have. God gave me these feelings and it's fine by Him for me to express them and have them so today, I am choosing to do that. Pray for me, my family, my pain, my energy level.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In A Funk...Satan's A Punk.

In a total and complete funk and it's all Satan's fault...and mine too for allowing him access to my emotions. Today was a hard day. Let me back up to yesterday though so I can give a little back-story. Yesterday my sweet babies came home from their gramom's house after being there for 9 days. I was so excited to have them back and could not wait for David to pull into the driveway with them. I wasn't totally niave about the care I was going to have to give them, but I was feeling stronger yesterday than I had in a week. When they got home, my spirits immediately lifted and I could not get enough of them. They hugged, kissed, played, and hung out with us all afternoon and evening. Chloe fell asleep with me on the couch and it was just precious.

Then today happened. All was well. As a matter of fact, all was perfect until we all loaded up to go to St Thomas Hospital for my incision check and drain pull. On the way there fear, anxiety, and terror gripped my soul. We popped in some praise music but it just wasn't helping. I tried quoting in my mind that the Lord did not give me a spirit of fear. Didn't work well. The fear and anxiety was coming from the fact that last Monday night was the last time that we had driven to St Thomas since my emergency surgery. It was the time that I honestly thought I was going to die. I was so in and out of consciousness on the way back to the hospital due to the blood loss that I really thought it was the end for me. Well, all of those emotions came at me like a ton of bricks today and I stiffened up and didn't relax for several hours after we had gotten back home.

David knew something was wrong as soon as he looked over and saw me crying silent tears. He asked and I went ahead and told him what I was thinking about. He told me that the ride for him was symbolic not of fear and anxiety, but of a time when he was able to pray aloud for me and praise God through the storm. I thought about that for a minute and then just  thanked the Lord in my soul that David has grown in Christ over the past several months like nobody's business. Everyday I can see he is allowing the Lord to take over more and more control of his life and it's a beautiful thing to watch. Man, do I love that man of mine!!!

However, I am in such a place now that I can't feel God. I can't hear Him. I can't find Him. I can't see Him in anything. I feel like Job. Lord, where are you? I have been so faithful during the past 2 years of my breast cancer walk that for me to feel this during the reconstruction process is mind-boggling. Luckily, for a few minutes tonight, I was able to see and hear God speak through my friend Destiny. She happened to be at another friend's house when I called there and I was able to speak to her. She spoke truth after truth to me about God, where He is, and who the real perpetrator is right now. Satan knows he can't have me. He knows I will not ever be anything but God's child and I will never deny my faith and love for Jesus Christ. HOWEVER, he knows that if he can stop me by placing fear, anxiety, doubt, fear, anger, and depression in my life, then he can stop me from doing the work that God has set out for me to do. The work that God has specifically told me includes furthering His kingdom. Well, I cannot and will not allow Satan to do that. He will not compromise my job. He will not compromise my joy. He will not take hold of me in any way, shape or form. I am drawing the line in the sand and He WILL stand behind me and leave me alone. Enough of Satan...MORE OF CHRIST!

The next time something goes wrong...even just something as simple as a kid losing a shoe and us needing to leave the house right then, I will choose to ask Satan "is that all you've got?" and go on with my business because he will not be allowed to steal my joy anymore and ruin my days over little unimportant things. Every single one of you have the right to hold me accountable to that too. Satan has taken up waaaaay too much of my time and it infuriates me. So call me out on it, keep me accountable, and make sure that I am not like Peter walking on the water. Make sure I do not take my eyes off of Christ.

And just to update you all on my appointment. I did not get my drain out...it's still putting out waaaaay to much so it will be with me for another week. I go back next Wednesday to hopefully have it pulled. My incisions look fine. Actually, you can already barely see the one on my back. It's perfect. I'm having lots of back pain from just doing even the littlest of things for the kids and am having slight muscle spasms even though I really shouldn't be. All in all, I think things could be a lot worse so I'm just trying to rest and relax my back as much as possible and listen to my body when it screams at me to sit down and relax. Kids go to Moms Day Out tomorrow from 9-2 so I will have a good break there and then I will be on my on all day Friday with them. Maybe tomorrow's rest will be sufficient to get me through Friday. And if it's not, I'm not going to worry as God's grace will be sufficient and His strength will get me through.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Update from Surgery

Well, today is Friday...day 3 post op from the second surgery. I am doing okay for all that happened on Monday and early Tuesday morning. I am still a little shell shocked at what all happened, but I try not to think about it too much because it scares me when I do.

As for my energy, it is still very low. I tend to still get a little dizzy when I stand up or change positions too quickly, but it's getting less every day. My drain is still putting out over 200mls/day which is a lot but at least we are heading in the right direction - it is getting less and less each day! I'm praying that I can get it taken out on Wednesday when I go back for my appointment. I am trying to move around a little each day to work my strength back up, but for now it's tiring when I get up to go sit outside with David. Thankfully, he loves to take care of me and help me do everything. He has been such a hero this week. I love him more and more with each day that passes and I cannot imagine my life without him. I will have to think of some fun surprise for him once I am healed.

As for pain, it's simple. If I don't move or cough, or lean back, I don't have pain. However, movement is necessary so there is always some pain involved. However, it's becoming more manageable without the heavy narcotics. I am more reserving those for night time and first thing in the morning when I wake up and am stiff. Since I have 2 incisions, one down my back and one across my chest, it is hard to find a comfortable position, but once I do, I'm good to go.

The kids are doing wonderful at gramom's house in Georgia. I talked to Chloe last night for about 10 minutes and she was full of stories and questions for me. Her main question was "will you be able to carry me when I get home?" I had to tell her no, but that she could crawl in my lap and I could hold her or she could snuggle up on the couch with me. She's very excited to get to trick-or-treat with grandparents and Brody. We over-nighted their costumes to them yesterday so hopefully they will have them today and be ready to get all candied up. The plan is to go pick them up on Wednesday I think. I miss them terribly.

Other than that, I'm just resting and taking it easy. Reading some books, watching movies, sleeping a lot, and that's it. More updates to come.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Surgery Update

Yesterday was eventful. I had my latissimus flap reconstruction which went amazingly well. I woke up not knowing what I would look like but as soon as I looked down, I realized that God had answered my prayers and the reconstrucion worked!!! I was in tears almost. So after I was good and awake, I was able to come home.
However, that's when the drama really started. I was unable to pee (TMI, sorry) so I had to go to the urgent care center here and get a catheter. After that was done, we came back home and I emptied my drain. Then I emptied it 5 minutes later, then again 3 minutes later, and again about 3 minutes later. The drain was filling up that fast. So, we paged my plastic surgeon who advised us to come back to the ER immediately. I was losing so much blood that I was getting sick on my stomach, I fainted at least once and was very close to it multiple times. I couldn't walk down our stairs to get to the front door but instead had to sit down and go down them one at a time. I was so sick.
So, we got back to the hospital and my doctor was waiting on me. My blood pressure was only 90/54 at this point, so after Dr. Oslin assessed me and realized that I had an inernal bleed in my back, I was back in the operating room to find out where the bleeding was coming from and have it cauterized. Apparently, when he got in there he found several blood clots so he removed them figuring that the source of the bleed was a small artery underneath the clots. However, there was no bleed at that point. He said he even agitated the tissues trying to get it to bleed, and it wouldn't. So...I am choosing to believe that God answered the prayers of everyone that knew what was going on and He is the one who stopped it.
We stayed in the hospital till about noon and then were able to come back home. I am still draining a bit much, but nothing compared to yesterday. I think my total for yesterday was 700ml (almost a full liter) in a 7 hour time period. Today, it's been about 250 all day long. My blood counts are low, which explains the dizziness, fatigue, rapid heartbeat etc..., but they should start coming up now that there is no active bleeding going on.
I'm doing okay. The pain meds are working well for my pain, and I am resting quite well. David is being a true gem and getting me everything I need before I can even ask him. He really loves me and loves taking care of me when I am sick.
Thanks for all of your prayers. It means the world to me and David and we are both confident that our Lord heard them all and honored each one of them. Love and hugs...(sorry if this is a bit random sounding, it's the drugs I'm sure).

Friday, October 22, 2010

What a Week!

This has been such a crazy week. I have ridden the emotional roller coaster and held on for dear life. There were days (Monday and Tuesday) that I was upside down on the roller coaster and my seat belt was coming undone. And then there were days that were spent climbing the hill getting ready for the exciting time that is to come. Today however, the roller coaster has slowed to a near stop and I am breathing again normally. My heart rate is normal. My smile is wider than it's been in a long time and my peace is the peace that only Jesus can give.

I am going in for surgery again on Monday. This is to attempt another reconstruction (called a latissimus flap) on the left breast. The first one failed and I have accepted that. I am ready to move forward with this next surgery knowing the following things:
1. This is probably going to work... there is a very small failure rate.
2. If this in fact does work, there will be one final surgery to replace the expanders with implants in 3 months.
3. If this does NOT work, this will be my last and final attempt at boobs.
4. If this does NOT work, there will be a grieving period I am quite sure.
5. If this does NOT work, then God intended it that way and for whatever reason, it will bring Him more glory. Maybe I will be used to encourage someone else along the way whose reconstruction fails. Or maybe others will look at me and see that you can still be sweet and sassy without boobs. Or maybe just maybe someone will see that my identity is NOT in my chest but is in Christ and that will encourage them.
6. I am NOT a bad person for trying a second time to have what was taken away from me by cancer. I had amputations. Lost 2 body parts.
7. I am NOT a bad mom for letting my kids spend quality time with their grandparents in Atlanta while I recover from this surgery the first week.
8. I am going to have a hard time recovering as there will be 2 incisions that are about 7 inches in length, one on my back and one across my chest. There will also be a drain again and it is a same day surgery.
9. I know that God is going to supply and meet all of my needs during this recovery time and I will depend on Him for that.
10. I know that my husband is going to be a phenomenal support to me just as he has been over the past 2 years, but probably stressed about having his wife at home in pain. So if you see him out, do me a favor and ask him how HE is doing. Make sure he is feeling okay about however my surgery turns out and ask if HE needs anything.
11. And finally, pray for my children that they will have a wonderful time at Gramom and Grandaddy's house and won't get homesick.

I will have David update the blog Monday afternoon or evening. My surgery is at 12:30 and will last about 3 hours. I will be in recovery for about 2 hours or so until I can wake up and be coherent enough to come home. Love and hugs to each of you!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Done Settling for This Life

I want more! I desire more. And I know I will get it because Jesus says (in John 10:10) that he didn't come to just bring life...but that He came to give ABUNDANT life. So, I'm taking that promise and I'm claiming my abundance because quite frankly, I've been living a life with quite a shortage in the department of abundance. I've been willing to settle for  "just okay" in my life lately and it's not working for me anymore. I feel like I'm back in the wilderness just wandering around aimlessly with fears, and worry, anxiety, and questions, negativity, and sadness. These were things that I haven't really struggled with since the beginning of my journey through breast cancer, but suddenly they are back. I worry about my upcoming surgery to try once again to build a boob on my radiated side. Attempt 1 was a failure, so if attempt 2 doesn't work, I face the possibility of living a life without boobs. Now, for those of you who are reading this thinking "well at least she's alive" I totally agree, but it's still hard to know that you've had 2 body parts removed with the expectations of having them put back on and it not work. It's still hard to think that I may never be able to wear the V-neck top or normal bathing suit when I take my babies to the pool. It's still hard to think about the fact that cancer creeped its way into my body and left me abnormal forever. Am I vain? NO! I have wondered this and questioned myself time and time again in regards to this, but I can assure you as can my friends and family who know me well, that I am one of the least vain people you will ever know. And on top of facing that I may never have a new set of girls comes the fact that I will also never be able to have more children. I don't think I have mentioned that much on here and that's been because of more backlash/opinions I am afraid of getting. I do have 2 amazingly beautiful children...YES! I am blessed beyond measure in that department. However, I missed almost the entire 1st year of Brody's life due to being so sick. It's so hard to know you have an infant that you just want to rock, cuddle, pour into, and love on, but can't because you are weak, tired, and have no strength to even do that...much less the strength to get on the floor and play all day long. I long to be able to hold another baby of my own. I am grieving the fact that there will never be another pregnancy test to take and get excited over. It saddens me to think of never having another baby in our home. I feel like I am just being stripped of all of the things that make me a woman and I HATE it. 

BUT...and this is a big BUT...I know that there is more than what this crappy life has to offer. I know that Jesus has invited us to experience being FREE, and taking God up on His offer of abundant life is how I plan to become free. I love this quote from Priscilla Shirer's book "One In A Million"...Satan is bent on burdening us hour after hour, making us seriously doubt that there is any deliverance available to us, then sapping us so completely of strength until we won't feel like calling out for help even if it does exist." And this my friends is where I have been this past week...

So, how am I going to accept this Promised Land/Abundant Life? How am I really going to be able to claim it this time and not be the Israelites who kept wandering around the desert complaining that Egypt was better? Well, I'm still reading the book, studying God's Word, and praying that He would show me what I need to do, or get rid of, or let go of so that I can live the John 10:10 way.

If you have any words of encouragement, or can speak from personal experience of losing part of "who you are" then please feel free to comment. If you read this and can't offer either one of those things, then just pray for me and love me where I am at in this season of life.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nevermind

I take back what I said in the previous blog. I just got home from Kate's house and the pain, grief, and overwhelming heartache has set in. I cannot even begin to express the guilt that I feel that breast cancer took my friend and not me. Why her? It was all I could do to answer "yes" when her sweet family asked if I was doing well with my health. I felt like I was rubbing it in or something.

And then the kicker of it all...Tim pulled me aside and said that Kate had left something for me but that he wanted to give it to me when there weren't so many people around. That's my sweet friend...always thinking of others even in her own pain and suffering.
I miss her so much!!!
Please keep praying for her husband and family. And I also selfishly need some prayers too as I try to work through this process.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

2010 Race for the Cure

Today was a very important day for Team Blevins.


Today was emotional.

Today was beautiful.

Today was almost perfect.



Today...October 9, 2010 was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Brentwood, TN. This is our 2nd annual race and it was totally different than last year. You see, last year I was still in treatment during the race and didn't really consider myself a survivor since I was still getting treatments. I think it was a protective coping mechanism. I was overwhelmed by the number of people there who were walking in memory of a lost loved one. I was much more sad than I was happy.

This year however, I really felt like a survivor. I am currently a 20 month survivor. This year I saw more survivors and more people walking in celebration of their loved ones. I participated in the Survivor's Parade and looked back at all of the other ladies who were lined up behind the 25 year survivor sign. I noticed the lady who was carrying a huge "5" balloon which signifies that she is CURED! I noticed all these signs of hope everywhere.

But...there was one element of sadness. Kate. I miss her. I wanted her there to walk with me. I wanted to cross that finish line with her. I wanted to share this day with her. Not fair. Not fair at all! Instead of doing those things, I walked in memory of my best friend and chemo buddy. I did "see" her today though. Bare with me and please don't think I'm crazy. On the way to the race, I asked the Lord to please let Kate be with me today...to please give me a glimpse of her in some special way. I kid you not that at the 1 mile mark, a sparrow flew right in front of me...as in I didn't even have to look up to see it, and it landed in the pear tree that we were walking by. I truly believe that the Lord gave me a special glimpse/reminder/hello from Kate and my heart swelled with emotion - joy! It was incredible. Nothing like that has ever happened to me before.

Anyways, we took in every element of the day from the Survivor-palooza breakfast to the tents with free items, the parade, the race, etc... It was amazing. No more speaking as our pictures are worth more than 1000 words.

Much love to each of you who have encouraged, prayed for, and blessed our family with your kindness and love. There is nothing that could repay you except to say that we love you and are eternally grateful to have you in our lives.


My sweet Chloe


My Super Hero - The BreastMan!


Carb loading with a cookie before the race

He needs all the carbs he can get. He can't afford to lose any weight :)


This ribbon means the world to Team Blevins 4.0


David with the Hooters Girl


Family photo op

Loved all the T-Shirts...especially this one since I went to Vandy for treatments


Lord only knows what he is looking at


Funny shirt...there were so many great ones


Walking in memory of my sweet friend


Walking in celebration of ME!


Lining up for the Survivor Parade


Do you see the numbers? They represent how many years you have been cancer free. 5 is considered cured and I am determined to make it to that one and then eventually to the 25 years and beyond!



LOVE these shirts!


Family pic again with David's cousin and his soon to be wife!


Lined up for the race


Chloe walking for a cure


She is really on the move...you go girl! The carb loading worked!


Rainbow Care Bear...slightly creepy looking!

Post-race...tired, sweaty, but happy to be here in the company of people with a common goal.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Movin' On Up...

To the mountains that is. And only for 4 days. BUT...these 4 precious days in Gatlinburg are worth silver, gold, platinum, frankincence, myrhh, and whatever else you could imagine (except copper as my level is still toxic on that one -HA!)
I am headed to the Ladies of Legacy (you can google it) women's only retreat with my friend Kelly and probably 30 other women that I do NOT know, but will come to know soon. This group was started, I think, with just 4 women several years ago as a long weekend to just get away, relax, study God's Word, eat, shop, form new friendships etc... Through the years it has grown and now I am going as a "freshman" and am thrilled (why else would I be up at 4:30 writing a blog?) We stay in a huge chalet and have a roommate which is someone that you DO know. I can just picture it now...
My plan...? TO BE INTENTIONAL with God for 4 solid days. No excuses made! No, "mommy, mommy, mommy, he did this, she said this, get me...." The only distraction I am counting on is being so in love with the beauty of the mountains around me that the Creator made for me. I am taking my Bible, journal, iPod for sermons and worship music, and an open heart and spirit so that I can take in whatever God has in store for this tired and weary soul.
Please pray that I do not get distracted by the shopping trips that are going to be going on (which is also totally fine - just not my purpose this time) as I do LOVE to shop. Also, pray for my family as I am away. I know that David is going to be just fine with the kids, but I have NEVER left him, by himself, with them for more than 1 night. Chloe has been crying that she is scared I will fall off the mountain, that she should go too since it's a girls' trip, that I should stay home in case daddy goes to work, that I might get scared of the bears, etc... You name it, this child has thought of it.
And my specific prayer requests, if you want to know what I will specifically be praying for so you can too if you feel led:
1. That I am making the right decision in moving forward with a latissimus flap in regards to my reconstruction.
2.  That I will finally be able to rest in the confidence that He has healed me forever as He has shown me.
3. That I can make the final touches to a speech that I am giving to 2 different groups when I return. I will be telling my story through breast cancer and I want to make sure I give God full glory, without missing a beat, keep it somewhat light-hearted and funny, and at the end have everyone trusting in God and seeing His ways are always PERFECT.
4. that I can be a more intentional mom. Lately at night, the kids and I have been setting aside 30 minutes before bedtime to do puzzles, color, play dinosaurs, or whatever they want to do together. It has been such a fun way to end the day, but I want to work more of that into my days while still being able to run a household and rest when my body tells me I need to rest. Usually we get out of the house every day for some fun activity for them while I have a chance to catch up with other mommy friends, but I feel like I need to and want to have more 1 on 1's with them throughout the day.

Thanks friends...I will update as soon as I return as there will be no computer with me this weekend (another distraction of mine). I am taking my phone though because I really think my SIL is going to have her baby today or tomorrow so I MUST know when I become an aunt again!!!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Here's Me...open, honest, and authentic

If you don't like to read any types of posts except for the "life is perfect" ones, than I must warn you that you need to hop off of this blog and on to another one REALLY fast because I have so much going on right now that I have got to get it off of my chest and journaling is the way I do that...obviously. Those who have been following my blog for a while know that I am a normally pretty positive person especially in regards to my cancer being healed, my incredible growth and walk with the Lord, and just in my life in general.

Well, today, there were several people who made comments to me about my reconstruction process. Let me explain this to everyone once and for all how this works...for me. Both my general surgeon who did my mastectomies and my oncologist (chemo doctor) agreed that my cancer was too aggressive and too far progressed to worry about getting the tissue expanders placed at the time of my initial surgeries. They both wanted me to get through all of the chemo and radiation FIRST because truly life is more important that boobs. That being said, I followed their advice and felt (and still do feel) 100% comfortable with that decision.
When it was time for me to begin the reconstruction process, I went to a plastic surgeon who is highly recommended in Nashville, highly trained in breast reconstruction, and I happen to know 2 women in my city who have used the same surgeon so I have seen his work and he is good! So, what's the problem? RADIATION! When you have radiation, your skin shrinks, scar tissue forms, and you acutally are sunken in in the chest area. It is very difficult to reconstruct radiated tissue, but after talking with Dr. O, we both agreed that placing tissue expanders was the best option to start with for me. I asked him about other options such as a TRAM flap (using stomach muscle and vessels to build a boob) which he was very honest with me and told me that in his opinion I was NOT a candidate for it becauase radiated skin has poor blood supply and it probably wouldn't take, but that he would refer me out to somewhere else if that was what I really wanted to do. To me, that's a great surgeon right there. To admit that he doesn't think it will work for me but will send me to a second opinion if I want one.
Now, tissue expanders look like implants but they start out as empty and there is a port in them where the doctor injects saline weekly. The goal is to stretch the skin and the muscle enough to be able to place an implant in eventually. The expander goes in between the muscle and the skin in a pocket that is created. Each week when I get expanded, it is the worst pain I have ever had. It gets worse with each expansion as there is more and more fluid going into that radiated side and hardly any expansion is happening. My skin and scar tissue is just too fragile and not wanting to cooperate. The other side (without the cancer) is expanding perfectly and I couldn't be more happy. Percocet and Valium are essential to me even being able to breathe for the 3 days after expansions because all of the fluid, instead of pushing everything forward, is staying put and putting extreme pressure on my ribs, muscles, etc... I feel like I am walking around with broken ribs.

Tomorrow I will have 600 cc's total in my radiated side which should put me at a D. However, I am not even an A yet. This is by no fault of my surgeon. I wish people understood that. This is because this is how my body is reacting. Does is frustrate me? YES! Does is make me sad? YES! And am I beginning to feel pretty hopeless? FOR SURE!
I am confused at to what my next step should be. Here are the options that I have...
1. keep expanding and pray that eventually the scar tissue will just give and the saline will go where it is supposed to. If I do that, I have 4 more expansions left.
2. Go ahead and let the PS take me back to the OR and allow him to clean out more scar tissue and then place the expander back in and keep moving forward with hopes that with less scar tissue there will be better results.
3. Have a latissimus flap done. This is where they will find skin from areas of my side and back and graft it onto my chest to allow me to be able to have an implant placed. This is my last resort as I know that skin grafts are difficult, painful, and I just am not ready to resign to this decision.

I wish life were easy. I wish so bad that someone would just tell me what to do and not give me a choice. I wish I were normal. I wish that cancer had never entered my life. I wish that my friend Kate were still here to help me make decisions as she would be walking this same journey with me and we would be a great support to each other. As of now, no one that I know has walked in my shoes as far as having expanders placed after radiation. I wish there were no pain. I wish the tears would stop for good. I wish that my family didn't have to deal with me and all of my junk all of the time. I wish all of these things were not just wishful thinking. But the thing I wish the most is that the hope and security that I had in my God were as strong as it was when I was first diagnosed. I wish I had the hope and belief that all of the numerous times He has told me that I am healed forever were not being overshadowed by the thought that any day my cancer will be back. I feel like I am turning into the Israelites who kept forgetting the amazing things that God had done to prove Himself to them and that's the last thing I need is to be like that. I don't want anymore "wandering in the desert."

I know all of these feelings make me human. I know that these are a normal part of the process of recovering, grieving losses, etc... but I'm just tired of it all.
Next week I leave for 4 days to a women's conference where there is a Bible study, but most of the time is just for us moms to be able to relax, read, shop, or whatever we want to do. I can guarantee you that what I will be doing is being intentional with the Lord and our time together. I will be praying and begging for an answer as to what to do. I will be on my knees before my Lord praising Him for the 33 years I have had and asking Him to bless me with many many more.
Please be in prayer for me.
Love and hugs to each of you!
Kelly

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Komen Race For The Cure Coming Up!!!

To my closest and dearest friends and family,
I am asking (and not above begging) each of you to please join me in the fight against breast cancer by pledging your support in the Race for the Cure that will be happening in Brentwood, TN in just under 40 days.


As all of you know, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer 20 months ago and am currently considered cancer-free. I still have 3.5 years to go until I am considered "cured" by the doctors, but with amazing foundations such as the Komen Foundation, a cure may very well be just around the corner and it wouldn't even be a matter of having to wait 5 years to hear that word. When you are in the midst of a life-threatening illness, 5 years seems like FOREVER to wait to hear the word CURED. I am determined to hear those words, not just for me and my family, but in memory of my best friend Kate who lost her battle with breast cancer 5 months ago. She left me her pair of pink boxing gloves with instructions to NEVER give up fighting. So that it what I am doing! This is for her too!



Your tax-deductible contribution will fund local outreach, awareness and treatment programs for the medically under-served in our community. And... up to twenty-five percent of your donation will support national cutting-edge breast cancer research (which is near and dear to my heart as I was in 2 clinical trials).

Visit my personal fundraising page and consider making a tax-deductible donation to support my participation! My goal this year is to raise $1000. I know we can do this together with your help. Please feel free to forward this information/blogsite to anyone you know who may be interested in contributing. I will keep everyone up to date on the progress we are making and will be sure to post lots of pictures of Team Blevins as we walk our 2nd annual Race for the Cure.



Love,
Kelly, David, Chloe and Brody Blevins (TEAM BLEVINS!!)


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Another Bump in the Road

Well today was yet another bump in this rather long road I've been on the past 19 or 20 months. Today was tissue expansion day...or as I like to call it "pump up day." When my sweet nurse called my name to come back, I just had a lot on my mind and of course she could tell because usually I am just as happy and perky as can be. We chatted for a second and then Dr Oslin came in. I told him that I was really worried about the left side not looking right but that the right side was perfect. I totally expected him to encourage me and tell me to just be patient because radiated skin takes a while to work with, but instead he told me that he was concerned as well. And then, the tears started to well up, the heart started to speed up, and my voice got shaky. We talked about what my options were which I will share in a moment, but I left that office today just really really down, discouraged, and questioning everything.

So here are the options that I have right now concerning the reconstruction:
1. keep getting the weekly injections into the expanders until I just can't take the pain anymore or we see that it's just NOT going to stretch anymore
2. go back in for another surgery and break up some scar tissue and try to stretch me all at once making the "pocket" for the eventual implant as big as we can get it (all I want is a B - I don't need my boobs to be my GPS and lead me everywhere)
3. go back into surgery and take out the expander on that side and do a latissimus flap where they take skin/fat from the side and back and build a boob from that
4. forget the entire reconstruction process all together

See now why I left there discouraged?!? This was supposed to be the happy part of breast cancer. And now it may not work the way it should?!? So, I had a good chat with God on my way home from the doctor today. I pretty much just laid it all out there and told him that I know that in the grand scheme of things, stretching my skin for me probably wasn't the most major need, but that since I cared about it, I knew He did too so I just asked him to please allow my skin to start cooperating and to please stretch it the way it should. I told him that I just wanted to be "normal" again. I just want to look like a woman in a bathing suit when I take my little ones swimming, to be able to wear cute tops that have a V-neck or dresses that are empire waisted. And then He clearly said to me that my identity is NOT in my body, but is in Him. But the way He said it to me was so lovingly...not at all scolding for seeming to be vain. It was true peace that flowed over me. At this point, I feel like I am supposed to keep doing what I am doing and am going to trust that God will stretch my skin. I sort of have a plan for when to stop the stretching and move on to something else, but am going to just let the Lord of my life lead me in that decision.
When I got home and told my husband about the appointment, he extremely lovingly hugged me and reassured me that he would always support and love me regardless of the outcome. I know this, but it is always nice to hear him tell me this fact.
So I am once again going to ask for my prayer warriors to join my family in praying that my skin and muscles would stretch the way that they should on that radiated side so that I will not need 2 more surgeries instead of just the 1 more.
Love to each of you and again, I thank you all for taking my burdens to the feet of Jesus with me.

Psalm 71:20-21: "You have allowed me to suffer much hardship but you will RESTORE me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will RESTORE me to even greater honor and comfort me once again."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Celebrating Life A Lot this Week

This week, beginning today, we celebrate lots of LIFE. I'll explain...

Today, August 17th, 2010 marks my 1 year anniversary of being done with chemo. Yes, last year, I was getting my 16th and final round of chemo. Here's a few pics to show where I was and where I am now.

                                                        July 16th - chemo birthday party


                                                    August 18th, Brody's 1st birthday party



                                             October 10th - Race for the Cure in Brentwood


                              July 4th - St Louis zoo with my favorite baby boy ever!



                                           July 4th - leaving the Arch with my favorite little girl




Now tomorrow (Aug. 18th) we will celebrate Brody's 2nd birthday. Cannot believe my baby is 2. These have been the fastest and sometimes slowest 2 years of my life, but one thing is for sure...he has brought so much joy to my life through the suffering I have been through. Here are some pics to show his growth along this past year...(sniff sniff)

                                                                 November 2009



                                                                    December 2009



                                                                         April 2010

 Recent. Can you believe what a big boy he has grown into these past 12 months??!



And finally, David and I celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary this Saturday, August 21st. In six years we have survived learning how to live together, moving to a new state, building a home, have 2 children, and cancer. It's amazing the grace that God has poured over us and how he has protected our marriage. 70% of couples will divorce when cancer enters the picture...a very sad, but true statistic.

So, happy week to Team Blevins!!!