Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Give Me A Revelation

Who knows who Third Day is? If you know them, then you will know their song and album titled Revelation and then you will totally get the title of this post. I HEART that song!

Today has been a day of revelation for me. It has been such a FREE-ING day! Here's what's gone down in this brain of mine that has left me feeling (and wishing I really were) 10 pounds lighter and breathing (literally now) 10 times easier :)

I have been reminded of several things:
1. God is NOT a God of confusion. He does not want this decision to be hard for me or confusing to process. All of this thinking and worrying and wondering is creating anxiety that is just not necessary.
2. I have decided that I am going to base my decision to continue treatments on what the pulmonologist recommends. He is an expert in the matter. He is highly knowledgeable about this type of thing. His knowledge is not his...it is God's. As a matter of fact, everything we all have is God's. Anyways, given that 2 different doctors that do NOT know each other wanted me to see a pulmonologist and then I was set up with this one in particular leads me to just trust that I am making the right decision to see him and I will trust what his knowledge and experience tell him.
3. If he says that the drug probably is the source of the problem, I will not take any further treatments. And I will NOT look back on the decision.
4. If he says that this was most likely a random event (and it could have been since I had a high WBC count meaning infection) and will most likely not happen again, I will forge on and NOT look back at my decision.
5. If I take another treatment and the same adverse reaction occurs, I will NOT blame myself or wonder if I didn't hear God correctly. I know my heart. I know my God. And I know that I am resting in this revelation that He has given me today so if another reaction occurs, I will not question Him or myself or the doctors.
6. If another reaction occurs, I will be done - for sure.
7. If another reaction does not occur, I will forge on and complete the "mission" taking them one treatment at a time.

So there you have it. My REVELATIONS of the day. Seriously, I feel so light and burden-free now. God's grace is just blanketing me right now and I am coveting it greatly!

I do want to touch on one thing though because I think I need to clarify something. Three years ago when I was just starting the first round of chemotherapy, I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Lord gave me John 11:4 as my scripture to hold onto throughout this season of life. It reads (and I am paraphrasing) that this disease will not end it death but that it was given to bring glory to the Son of God.
Now, I did not take that to mean that I didn't have to do chemotherapy then, and I don't necessarily think it "excuses" me from the rest of chemo this time either. I have questioned God about this - as to whether it meant that I didn't need to start or finish this, but I never got the overwhelming yes - or any yes for that matter. What I do feel like it does though is reminds me that NONE of this is being done in vain and that I am to be encouraged that the fight is worth fighting because it is SO MUCH BIGGER THAN ME!

OK, I'm out now to go play SpiderMan with my almost FOUR year old son! What a miracle this is. He was only 4 months old when I was diagnosed so to see the child turn 4 is a BLESSING. Aaah!

Monday, July 23, 2012

10 Days Out

Here I sit...10 days since the last treatment, and about 10 from the next one. I am feeling almost 100% better with just a little bit of a lingering cough and only a little bit of shortness of breath.  But NOTHING compared to the past 10 days. Heck, we were even able to take a very unplanned and spontaneous trip to East Tennessee, the Knoxville area, this past weekend. We packed up and left Friday evening and got back yesterday afternoon. It was a wonderful trip! We had such a stress-free and happy weekend. We explored a new city and realized that we LOVE that area. Plus, an added bonus was being in UT VOL territory. I am not kidding when I say that the first night that we were there that even the sky was orange.

Anyways, as I am sure that you can imagine, I have been in thought and prayer and deliberation about what to do next in regards to treatment. I think I have my answer and then 10 minutes later I think the opposite. I just don't have an answer that I am 100% confident in, but I do have confidence in the fact that God will provide it in His perfect timing. It may not be until the day before, or the morning of, but I know that I will have my answer. I guess my prayer too is that once I do have it, that I will rest in it and not look back - whichever way it goes.

Because lists are my go to - I'm listing out the pros and cons of receiving the next one.
REASONS TO GET IT:
I have come this far and there are only 3 left
I am not a quitter
I am willing to fight for my life
I want to see this through to completion
I don't want my doctor to think I am making a dumb decision if I don't go forward
This may have been a fluke reaction
I don't want others to think that I'm making a dumb decision
This drug has been shown to cut recurrence by 50%

REASONS NOT TO GET IT:
I have taken 15 out of 18...that's ALMOST all of them
The issue of quitting could just be out of pride - never a good thing
I am not willing to risk my life for just 3 more treatments
I am afraid that the next one will get worse. Looking back in my journal I see I have been talking about this cough for MONTHS!!! And the past month I saw a progression in how bad it was getting.
People will think I am crazy for getting another one.
I don't rest in the promise of what drugs can do, but what God can do...
Will I regret not finishing treatment if it does come back? I have a husband and 2 small kiddos to consider in this decision also.

I do feel like I will receive a lot of clarity after I see the pulmonologist next week, or at least I am hoping that I will have a clearer idea of whether the reaction was in fact due to the treatment or not.
One thing is sure, just by reading my lists, I need to pray that the Lord will help rid me of trying to please other people. He is the standard...not man. His opinion matters, not man's. I also need to get rid of the thought that if I don't finish then I am a quitter and that that is a negative thing. Sometimes quitting is exactly what we are supposed to do. Sometimes quitting is the successful thing and doing otherwise is prideful.




Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Treatment From Hell

Last Thursday was my 15th treatment...out of 18. I am almost finished. As in, I may be finished after this last one because it rendered me with severe respiratory problems. Here's how things went down (as best as I can remember because it all became blurry after a while).
Thursday morning - got my treatment, all went great, no problems
Thursday night - started coughing incessantly and became short of breath (I have had a cough after every treatment for 6 months, but never with breathing problems)
Friday morning - went to my PCP who looked at me and wanted to transport me to the hospital via ambulance. Before that though, they did an EKG which showed some atrial enlargement and obviously a rapid heartbeat). However, yours truly refused and called my mom to come get me and take me to the ER while my doc called ahead. I then called my husband who was on his way to Lexington, KY to a bachelor party to come back.
At the hospital (my community hospital), I was breathing 50 times/minute, working excessively hard to breathe, and could not complete sentences without pausing for air. They did a CT Scan looking for blood clots or metastasis and a chest x-ray. Both were fine except for the lung spots on my CT that have been there and are not growing at all. Blood work showed a high white blood cell count meaning an infection was in my blood. The ER doctor diagnosed me with bronchitis and bronchospasms and sent me home with only a cough syrup, No antibiotic, no steroid, no inhaler. NOTHING. I was sent home breathing 40 times/minute and still working very hard to oxygenate. Luckily my daughter has a history of asthma (that's not the lucky part), and has tons of Albuterol nebulizers (there's the lucky part). So I got to work using her nebs so that I could breathe better for a few hours at a time.
Over the next 2 days, I struggled. As in, I was SUPER SICK. I went back to my PCP in the weekend clinic on Sunday and he prescribed an Albuterol inhaler and a different cough medicine. I was wheezing and tight in my chest - again, not moving air well at all. Before I left though, he told me to let my oncologist know about everything.
On Monday, I celebrated my 35th birthday the same way I had the previous few days...not breathing well and with a low grade fever, cough, blah blah blah. I notified my oncologist who wanted me in her office.
On Tuesday, I went in to see my oncologist who promptly saw my difficulty in breathing, my blood counts, and then heard how difficult it was for air to move through my lungs when she listened to my chest. She prescribed an antibiotic, a steroid pack, told me to keep taking the Albuterol and cough pills and to come back in 2 days if I was not remarkably better.
Today, Wednesday, after just 2 doses of antibiotic and a day and a half of the steroid taper pack, I can breathe easier. I am still short of breath at times. I am still fatigued easily. BUT I AM MUCH BETTER. It's amazing what quality doctors and common sense can do.

SO here's my beef with the local hospital.
A) I am a cancer patient in treatment
B) You treat us a little different because we are not the "norm."
C) With a high WBC count, you treat with an antibiotic - especially in a cancer patient because it's rare for our counts to be high after a treatment
D) Anyone who comes in breathing hard and fast - you DON'T SEND HOME until they are breathing normally again - especially when the treatment they are on can cause pulmonary toxicity (ie - problems with breathing that can become permanent). Even if a scan or xray doesn't show anything, sometimes it can take several days for an infection to show up on a scan or xray. And I know this because I was a nurse for 8 years (never at this hospital!) and an ICU nurse for many of those. Get it together GATEWAY MEDICAL CENTER.
E) My oxygen level was 95% working that hard and breathing that fast, but as I tried to slow down my breathing, it dropped in to the 90-92% range meaning when I fell asleep at night, it went down even lower (I know this because I have a home oxygen monitor because again, I have an asthmatic daughter).
F) It's a little scary when the ER doctor tells you he has had to google the chemo drug you are on because he doesn't know a thing about it. How about you consult the oncologist... or at least don't tell us that you googled it.
G) You need to STOP coming into the ER rooms and asking for payment - while I am clearly SICK!!!

And I could go on, but I will spare you more reading of my ranting. The point is, my oncologist gets HUGE PROPS for figuring this out and treating me appropriately with the correct medicines. As for more chemo, I am not sure. I am set to see a pulmonologist at Vanderbilt who specializes in cancer patients. Hopefully he will shed light on the cough that I have had for 6 months that reared its ugly head this time. If he says it is NOT related to my treatments, I may forge on for the remaining 3. If he says that it could be dangerous for me to continue then I will STOP. I will not risk my life to try to save it with 3 more treatments. I worry about what will happen with the next treatment which is in 2 weeks. I worry that it will be worse next time. I have lots of praying and listening for God about what I should do. But as always, I know he will provide my answer and it will be my job to just obey and go with it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

EXCITED!!!!

Blogger Friends!!! I have some very exciting news and can hardly contain myself as I write this post. It has absolutely nothing to do with me other than the fact that I really really want you to support my dear friends, Daniel and Emily Doss, as they get ready to expand their family through adoption once again. Let me show you what they are selling as their first fundraiser and then I will share a little of their background story with you. Brace yourselves because these are SO CUTE!!! As in, I ordered 3 for me...one in blue, pink and black and cannot wait to get them. So without further ado, I give you:

Blessed Bracelets

These adorable bracelets are ONLY $10 each and that includes shipping! I mean honestly, how reasonable is that?!? Cute and cheap - right up my alley. 

Now, for a just a little info about Daniel and Emily (because truly you can get to know them better at Emily's Blog). We met the Doss's at our home church in January 2006. At first we just knew them because Daniel was our worship pastor, but as we became more involved in serving at our church and began getting to know people, Emily and Daniel were two people who we knew were the "real deal!" A breath of fresh air. Daniel isn't just an amazing worship pastor and lead singer of the Daniel Doss Band, he is a man who passionately pursues God and truly invests in the lives of others. And Emily, super sweet Emily! I cannot even tell you how radiant and contagious her smile is and how she lights up a room when she walks in it. She loves Jesus like nobody's business and just makes me want to be a more devoted follower of Christ.  I was blessed to get to know Emily though the years and even share in some fun scrap-booking nights with her. Boy can that gal whip out some serious page layouts. I really wanted to just give her my photos and ask her to just make my books for me. Ha! 
Anyways, the Doss's moved a few years ago to Indiana as part of a church plant. While there, and after many many heartbreaks, they were blessed through adoption with their first child, Manny. Oh goodness gracious is that little boy PRECIOUS! He seriously has the most kissable baby cheeks!!! And without sharing their entire story with you, because I WANT you to go to their blog to get to know them, I will just leave you with this. They are expanding their family again and the Blessed Bracelets are their first fundraiser. All of the details about payment are on her blog, so again, CHECK IT OUT. For the short of it though, you can pay through a paypal link in her sidebar, or mail her a check (I think).

Now, I'm going to be bossy and say - GO BUY A BRACELET (or two or three). Even if you aren't the bracelet type, someone you know is and these make wonderful gifts also. Your purchase, even though you will be physically getting something, is more than just about you...it is about helping my friends bring their baby to his or her's forever home. What an incredibly lucky little baby he or she will be!!!
Love you all and am so grateful to have you in my family - real or blog family :)