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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Moving ahead

Last Friday I got my drains removed. Hallelujah!! And that meant I could sleep in my own bed and wear normal clothes. It also meant I could shower without having to sit on a bench cradling the drain tubes in my lap.

👕 Monday I saw my surgeon for my post surgery followup appointment. Everything is healing nicely and I've been released to move freely. He said I must be Superwoman. He doesn't really hear patients choose to skip the pain meds, yet  I was truly doing well and healing faster than he expected. I asked him if I get a t-shirt 😉 He laughed. I like Dr Faught. I get to go visit him again on July 8th to have my port put in for chemo. Maybe I'll get my t-shirt then. Ha ha!😂

✂ While the last 2 weeks have been spent healing and resting, the next 2 weeks are going to fly by. I will be going in for ct scan today and an echocardiogram next week. Tonight I'm cutting my hair short to ease the transition to chemo baldness. My hair has already been falling out due to stress, so this is actually a relief. Still working on the stress part though. As I said, I get my port put in next Friday. Chemo will start July 12th.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
~ Proverbs 3:5

About chemo...
I had hoped to avoid this altogether, but after discussing this with my doctors and praying with my family, I've decided to go ahead with it. My integrative oncologist is refining my treatment and customizing it to my body and my specific cancer. No "one size fits all" treatment from the factory assembly line. She has spelled out a very detailed plan for me. I will also be seeing a naturopath to help monitor and support my immune system.

🗓 My chemo treatment will have 2 phases totalling 20 weeks. The first one will last 2 months and I will go in every other week for 3-4 hours at a time. The second will be weekly for 12 weeks. If I've done the math correctly, it looks like I'll be finishing chemo just before Christmas.

💉 Charlie and I went to my chemo education class last week. It was decided then that Charlie will not be accompanying me to my chemo appointments. Needles make him sick and I can't afford to be worried about him going down while I'm hooked up to an IV. As we get closer, I'll be looking  to fill that roll, but not the full 4 hours. Just a visit so I can rest too.

Other updates:
🐟 My dad and my stepmom are taking advantage of the time he has before his surgery (to remove the colon cancer from his body) by going on a fishing trip in their RV. Please pray that it is a restful time for both of them.

⛺ We are also taking advantage of the time I have before starting chemo by going on our church's camping trip this weekend. Please pray that it is a restful time for our family too. I'm looking forward to a little campfire fellowship.

We got our car back a couple days ago. No problems so far. Thank you, Lord! We were instructed to drive it for a few weeks and if it's truly fixed, we'll owe $160. (They replaced the same part Charlie replaced while we were in California a month ago.) If it's not fixed, we're to bring it back again. Please pray that it is fixed.

I posted on Facebook the other day that we are looking for a few things. These are the ones were still trying to track down:
• Guest room for 1 (Medford) available for a few weeks, possibly a month, towards the end of July/early August
• 2BD house or downstairs apartment <$850/mo (Medford area)*
• Market umbrella &/or stand for sale

*Don't worry, we are not moving. We have a family member moving to the area but cannot host them in our home. The guest room is temporary while they look for a place.

Last of all, this photo: A friend of my sister's makes these cool handpainted  signs. She posted this one recently and I'm hoping she has more soon. A couple days before I saw this, my stepmom had sent me an encouraging email with "Chin up! Chest out!" in the subject line. As a daughter of the One True King, I feel this sign said it all and the daily reminder would be helpful 💗

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Good news!

Good news! Charlie starts a new job on Monday!! I'm so happy for him and this new venture. And God's timing, as always, is perfect 😊 He's been applying to this company since before he left Home Depot over 2 years ago. The position that was offered to him is a perfect fit for his skills and experience, so we're looking forward to him getting started. Please pray for a smooth transition for him!

With all the lost hours Charlie had the past couple weeks in order to take me to appointments, during my hospital stay, and then a slow work week, we were coming up very short for rent. Praise report: God has provided. A generous friend has taken it upon herself to cover that gap and then some.

With Charlie starting his new job and our car still in the shop, I'm going to all need a little help with getting to appointments and preparing meals. I can't drive yet anyway and I don't have the doctor's okay to lift more than 1lb. I think my empty pots and pans weigh more than that! Here is the link for helping with meals http://www.takethemameal.com/meals.php?t=DCSS0960. (At this point, it's looking like chemo will start mid-July, though we're waiting on a few more test results before confirming that. If we do move forward with it, I'm looking at 5 months of chemo treatment and reconstruction after that.)

I have an appointment on Monday that I'll need a driver for. (We have a loaner car from the mechanic, so Ryan can't do it.) If you are available 10:30-12:30ish and willing to do that, please let me know. I'm trying to not keep asking the same people for help. I also need to find someone to take Nathan to his OT appointment Wednesday morning. This will be a bigger challenge since he won't go with just anyone. If you offer and he says no, please just try and understand it's  nothing personal 💕 Thank you!

More good news! I got my drains out yesterday and I'm happy to say that they're already healing up nicely. Much less pain and discomfort AND I was able to sleep in my own bed last night instead of the recliner. Yay!! 😊

I think that's it for now. I'm looking forward to trying to go to church tomorrow and that makes me happy too.
Thank you to all who have helped us so far! Your love and support had made this challenging time a little easier ❤

One last thing-
I shared this (photo) the other day, but I know not all of you reading this are on Facebook. It's totally worth sharing again:

A dear friend, one more precious than she knows, sent me some good reading material this week. Perfect timing ❤ Here's a bit of it:
God's plan is..
Perfect
Exhaustive
For my ultimate good
Secret

(From a booklet called Behind a Frowning Providence by John J. Murray)

Be sure to listen to the hymn this book was based on. It's beautiful. https://youtu.be/VtnapVDuPfg

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Waiting

Wave after wave...they keep coming and they keep crashing. Treading water is not an option, I must keep swimming. I'm tired and I'm drowning... I just want to rest. I want to breathe but I can't keep my head above water. I just want to get out past the break...or back on dry land.

This week has been filled with much testing. Car trouble...again. Still not sure the problem is resolved. Charlie had planned to take 2 days off for my surgery last week and got 5. Work is slow. It's Wednesday now and he's done for the week. He starts a new job on Monday, praise the Lord, but it'll be rough to pay rent next month with so many missing days on his paycheck...and me not working.  Oh, and yesterday our landlord notified us that he has to raise the rent. Really?? What next?

My oncology appointment yesterday left me overwhelmed. Chemo...
Another wave crashes...

Today I went to the doctor's twice to get my drains checked. My right side has been partially clogged since Friday. Finally, it's clear and the swelling is going down.

I feel like I'm just waiting. Wading and waiting. Waiting to heal. Waiting to hear results. Waiting... I can't tell if it's me waiting on the Lord or him waiting on me. I think it's both actually. Have I been trying to do this all on my own? He's waiting for my total surrender. I'm waiting for him...

And then last night my pastors came to pray for us. And shared this...

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the Lord , that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord . Hear, O Lord , when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, Lord , do I seek."
Psalms 27:1‭-‬8

This is my cry.

But it ends with this...

Wait for the Lord ; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord !
Psalms 27:14

I will wait for the Lord. I will seek his face. I will trust him. He is faithful.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Counting blessings

Today is the first day I've struggled with keeping my chin up. It's Father's Day and I can't go to church with my family or the picnic in the park to follow. I missed the concert they went to last night too, both to volunteer and to enjoy the show. Too many moving bodies for my tender wounds right now. My sister-in-law left this morning to head home after tending to me and my family all week. I didn't sleep well last night due to discomfort in my arms and chest. No surprise, but no relief either. Constant is the reminder that my life will never be the same.

I have much to be thankful for though, many blessings to count.
The sunshine on my skin...again.
Ice packs.
Flexible shower heads.
Vegetables in season. Berries.
My playful puppy chasing birds, butterflies, and bees.
The too tall dandelions dancing in the slight breeze. They'll likely be mowed down soon, but for now they are feeding the bees.
Flowers blooming.
Family that loves me.
Friends that do too.
Cold drinks.
Hot homemade salsa.
Good movies.
Great books.

Thank you, Lord, for helping me see past my complaining to the goodness you give all around me ❤

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. To my dad, my first love. To my husband, father of my children, my beloved. And to my Heavenly Father, giver of life, my Healer and my Shelter, my Rock.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Home again and healing

It's hard to put into words what I am feeling right now, but I wanted to give a little update.

Physically, I am sore and tired, but not nearly as much as I'd anticipated. It's strange to think my surgery was only a couple days ago, yet I've been up and mobile since the day after. Thankful... Other than the reaction to the adhesive on my bandages, there have been no problems. Even that is healing now too, no more blistering.

Mentally and emotionally, I am well. Overwhelmed by the whole idea of battling cancer, but so thankful I don't have to do more than rest right now. I have time to study and weigh my options and more importantly, to pray. I've been asked if I'm grieving or allowing this all to sink in...I am fully aware of the magnitude of all this, yet I am content to trust God's plan for me. That does not mean I'm sitting here doing nothing.

I have learned this week that doctors and nurses are not created equal. I had some angels caring for me this week, as well as a few I hope to never enter my room again. I also learned that they really don't like when you opt not to take your meds, regardless of the reason. This made coming home yesterday that much sweeter. While I appreciate their medical knowledge, I believe that there are effective natural methods for pain relief and healing. If ice packs and arnica are working for me, I should not be pressured to take narcotics. To each their own...

That leads me to the following-
If you personally have had cancer, would you mind sharing with me? I have a few questions in particular, email me if you don't mind at tikaweeks@gmail.com:
What kind of cancer did you have?
When were you diagnosed?
What did your treatment entail?
How long have you been cancer-free?
Anything else you'd like to share our things you wished you'd done differently?

Thank you!

For those that have asked about my diagnosis, I have included an image to help explain. I have been diagnosed with invasive carcinoma with ductal and lobular features in my right breast with probable spreading to my axillary lymph nodes. What does this mean? Well, it's like this-
Invasive means it's not contained to just one area of my breast.
Carcinoma is cancer.
With ductal and lobular features means that the cancer cells are present in both my milk ducts and in the surrounding lobes.
My tumor was approximately 1 inch in diameter and there was no sign of it in June 2015 when I had a routine mammogram. 6 months later, it was large enough to feel through my clothing. Check yourself, ladies! Due to the size of my tumor and rate of growth, the second smaller one they found in my MRI and suspicious lymph nodes, and family history, I opted to have both breasts removed rather than a conservative lumpectomy. My age also played into this decision since my tumor is estrogen and progesterone receptor positive (these hormones make my cancer grow) and I'm not yet in menopause. This was the easier decision to make, though drastic.
The next step is the hard part...

And the part that will hit us hardest financially. 

Again, all donations are appreciated ❤

www.paypal.me/twcancerfight 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My help comes from the Lord

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord , who made heaven and earth.
Psalms 121:1‭-‬2

I didn't anticipate the bumps in the road yesterday, but I am glad to have that  part behind me. Some miscommunications that left me feeling insignificant, just a number on a chart. As the patient, I felt I should have been notified that my surgery time had been pushed 2 hrs later. Surely a 6 hour wait, especially one while fasting, warranted a quick conversation. That on top of the wrong information given to me when my surgery was scheduled, made for a frustrating morning. By the time I was finally on the same page as the rest of my medical team, it was time for surgery.

As Charlie shared, surgery went well. My right breast, the one with the tumors, ended up being a radical mastectomy. In addition to the breast tissue, the doctor had to remove my sentinel node plus 8-10 more. My left breast was a simple mastectomy, breast tissue only. No complications.

My pain is mostly tenderness at the surgery site, but it's not as bad as I had expected right after surgery. I was able to sleep without assistance and that is a good thing! I've been listening to hymns all night and ocean sounds. (It was a perfect way to block out the sounds of a bustling hospital.) Thank you, Lord!

My urine is blue. I know, TMI, but I found it interesting and there's a couple of you out there that night too. 😉

I'm here at the hospital till tomorrow at least. Visitors are welcome as long as I'm not sleeping. Thank you to the visitors I had yesterday to help pass the time and bring me lovely flowers ❤

Lastly, thank you all for the cups of coffee sacrificed yesterday to donate to my medical fund. God bless each one of you!

www.paypal.me/twcancerfight/5

Monday, June 13, 2016

Showtime

It's showtime. I'm ready. I'm here at the hospital.
I can only attribute the peace I'm feeling to the hundreds of prayers bring lifted up on my behalf. Thank you. God is holding me in the palm of his hand and all is well. All will be well.

Today, we're asking friends and family to skip their cup of coffee (or whatever it is you splurge on) and consider donating that $5 to my medical fund.
www.paypal.me/twcancerfight/5
Thank you!

Charlie will update later today. Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers ❤

Saturday, June 11, 2016

And 1

Tomorrow is the day. My bag is packed, our house is ready, and everything that could be done in advance has been done.

Update:
On Thursday, I went to see the integrative oncologist in Ashland. It was a long and thorough visit and at $500/hr, it was worth every dime. The reality of medical debt is real...and painful. This doctor will basically be customizing my treatment plan to my body and my particular cancer. She went over the dietary and lifestyle changes I'd made since diagnosis and reviewed what I'd been doing previous to that. She approved everything and made a few tweaks of her own. I'm very pleased to have coffee back. My exercise plan will be changing, no more swimming, and I'll be looking for walking buddies. Inquire within. No "one size fits all" plan here. She did a full physical and had ordered extra labs and scans to do this. On Friday, 50 minutes before my scans, my insurance denied the pre authorization of the scans, so we'll move forward without that. No time to fight it, the tumor must come out asap. Some of my labs came back quickly and the doctor called to talk about abnormal red blood cells. "Something is going on here, but let's just keep an eye on this and focus on getting you through surgery right now." Stress management in full effect.

Praise reports:
We are so thankful for the friends that delivered my new-to-me recliner and the one that drive Charlie out to pick up the freezer (earlier than expected, yay!). We are also thankful for the friends that delivered a tent trailer to our driveway for my sister-in-law to sleep in while she's here to take care of me and my family. Thank you all! Such a huge answer to prayer. Thank you, Lord!
My last day of work was a total success. Sold out to an extra large group of 26. So much love showered on me that night. Thank you! I'll miss this so much...
We're thankful for the few donations that have trickled in this week. Every little bit helps and is an answer to our prayers. If you'd like to help with that too, our donation page is here.
Thank you to all that have signed up to bring meals the next 2 weeks as I'm recovering from surgery. This takes a huge burden off of my family and allows me to focus on healing and resting. A sign up list for the weeks to follow can be found here. (Password is SUMMER.)

Prayer requests:
Our Durango is down AGAIN. Another car repair expense is the last thing we need right now, but that's life and life goes on. As long as I get to the hospital on time tomorrow, that's what's important. Please pray the repair is simple, fast, and cheap.
On top of that, our washing machine decided it doesn't want to work properly either. People, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried! I'm trying not to pick up that burden of stress, but this makes it difficult to clean for when I come home from surgery. Please pray this is also an easy fix.
Please pray for my sister-in-law's safe travels on Tuesday as she drives down from Portland.
Please pray for donations to be made to help cover the days this week that Charlie will be at the hospital with me.
Please pray for God's peace in our home and in our minds as we head into surgery.
Pray for my surgeon and his team.

Thank you all ❤
Charlie will give an update tomorrow after surgery.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

4

4 days...
I'm not ready...yet I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be.
I don't want this...yet I'm ready to get this over with. That first step. My life will never be the same.

I had a sweet conversation with my neighbor late last night as I pulled in the driveway after having dinner with my girlfriends. She's a 14 year breast cancer survivor and just a sweetheart for taking a few minutes to ask how I'm really doing. She knows. She understands when I tell her I'm not looking forward to the down time after surgery. I'm not looking forward to the road ahead. I'm not looking forward to losing my breasts, tender scars, starting over. I'm not looking forward to that first look at my forever-changed body...nor my husband's first look. I'm not looking forward to the chemicals the doctors will be pumping into my veins after years without so much as Tylenol. I'm not looking forward to not working...and wondering if my business will survive. I'm not looking forward to a lot of things.

But God...

He reminds me of his love for me with each passing day. He wakes me up at odd hours to show me This is what quiet looks like...This is the stillness when you will find rest...This is where you will find me. He reminds me that I have loved ones, near and far, that are quick to love on me, to bring a smile to my face with a simple card and a few words. I look forward to more time resting under his wings.  

Yesterday, I received a gift from a young man I had in my art classes several years ago. A beautiful wood planter box with sunflowers growing in it. He made the box with his own two hands just for me. He's an adult now and I'm touched that he did this. Something pretty to grow on my patio and remind me of all the ways God loves me. I look forward to watching it grow.

Yesterday, I learned how awkward it is for both of us when someone doesn't know what to say to me. I'm sorry. This is hard for me too. I'll take that hug and a smile instead and you can tell me you're praying for me...please do...and that will be enough. I look forward the hug and smile.

Yesterday, I learned the importance and healing power of laughter, of good friends, holding of small babies. These are the friends that will visit me to laugh some more, to hold my arms up when I cannot. I look forward to more of these times.

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.
Proverbs 4:25

Lord, help me to keep my eyes looking forward to your goodness. Help me to keep my eyes on you.

4 more days.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The cost of cancer

I was diagnosed with invasive carcinoma 34 days ago. Breast cancer. I will have a double mastectomy in 6 days. (Do the math: it feels like 40 days in the wildness.)

Prior to my diagnosis, I was self- employed, running my own business, working part time to supplement my husband's income. Before my business got up and rolling, we were receiving food from the local pantry to make sure our family was taken care of. We do not have fancy cars. We live in a small home with minor extra expenses, but our income was tight.

In the last month, my husband has missed work to be with me at my doctor appointments. As an hourly employee, this means his modest paychecks have taken a hit. Additionally, the business he works for is slower than normal and his days have been cut short a few times, making his income even smaller. And now I won't be working at all for awhile.

Meanwhile, it costs money to fight cancer.  Thankfully, we have medical insurance, but it does not cover the cost of buying new clothes for after surgery. It doesn't cover gas to get to and from my appointments. It doesn't cover the cost of having to buy different foods, clothing as my body changes, or extra supplies. My insurance does cover surgery and doctor visits, plus a whole bunch of poisonous chemicals to put into my body to kill my cancer cells...and my health ones too.

That goes against every bit of change I've made to my lifestyle in the last several years to bring healing to my hurting body. I am no longer in pain daily. Thank you, Lord! My fibromyalgia symptoms are well managed. And I have not taken ANY medications in years. I do not drink, I exercise regularly, and I eat a healthy diet. The thought of pouring those toxins into my veins makes me worry about how long it will really take to heal from cancer. And if I'll really be free from it. There has to be a better way!

I've done so much research this past month and am continuing to see that there are other options, or complementary treatments that can make a huge difference in my outcome. But only if I can afford it.

This all adds up. We're asking you to prayerfully consider helping in any way you can.

6 days

The countdown begins. Only 6 more days til I go in for surgery. Am I scared? Hmm...Yes and no. There are always risks involved with major surgeries and this is no exception. I know that God has me covered though. I am not afraid of the pain...it is a familiar old friend I have not missed. My fears lie in the thought of "being sick". It's more than the physical alteration of removing my breasts. It's the scrunched faces of those who greet me differently, who see my battle and not me. I'm still Tika.

Update:
Yesterday I received a call from my surgeon's office. I held my breath hoping they weren't calling to change my surgery date. Thankfully they were calling with good news. The results from the genetic testing I had done were in. I do not have the gene mutations. Thank you, Lord... Why is this important?
There is some evidence that, over the long term, women who carry these mutations are more likely to develop a second cancer in either the same breast or the opposite breast than women who do not carry these mutations. (More info on BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing here.)
One more thing, I will be seeing an integrative oncologist on Thursday to discuss and plan for complementary therapies that might be helpful for me during this time. It is expensive at $500/hr out of pocket. Please consider donating to our fund to help cover the cost of this appointment and others like it. Thank you!

Praise Reports: 
An air mattress has been offered and meals for the first 2 weeks post surgery have been covered. Thank you! The meal schedule beyond that looks a little different and you can find details here.
My sister-in-love will be here Tuesday to take care of me and my family for the first week when I come home from the hospital. So thankful! My mom is also taking care of me by sending me some clothing items to help with the awkward and painful first few weeks.
I am also extremely thankful for the friends that responded to my SOS for Charlie yesterday. You know who you are!

Prayer Requests:
Please pray for my family. Each one of us is processing this differently, yet I already see that it is drawing us together. Please pray for my children especially. They have both expressed their feelings that they do not wish to see me at the hospital. My hope is that they will change their minds, but I do understand this is so hard for them.
This is hard to ask, but please pray for donations to be made to my cancer fund. Thursday is my last day working so I will no longer be supplementing Charlie's income. Charlie has missed many hours from work this last month in order to be at my side for my appointments. He will miss even more this month following my surgery. As an hourly employee, this hurts. And cancer is expensive.

Needs:
The same as above, we are asking for donations to be made to my cancer fund account. Please consider any amount you can give, big or small, a life-giving gift to help me fight this.
We are also looking for anyone with an organic vegetable garden to share your bounty. I will not be able to garden this year, but need those nutrients!
As I said before, meals have been covered for the next 2 weeks, but the summer schedule is wide open. Please don't be intimidated by our food restrictions. "Simple" is best and my friend, Kris, that has graciously organized the meal train for us is very experienced and happy to answer questions and give suggestions. Details are here.

Thank you all so much for all you are doing to support our family through this trying time! Today, I will rest. Our street is being paved so I have no excuses to go do errands that can wait. This is a good thing.

One week

In one week I will be packing a bag for the hospital and getting ready for bed. I imagine sleep will not come easily....it's been hard to get a solid night's sleep all this past week. If only I could turn my brain off...so many details to take care of, research material churning, questions...always questions. I feel peace about my decision to have this surgery. It's what comes after surgery that I'm unsure of. Please pray...

Updates:
I am doing all I can to fight the cancer cells from growing in my body. I do not accept that surgery, chemo, and radiation are a required part of this journey. I do believe the surgery makes sense, yet I feel that by taking extreme measures now might spare me others later. There are unconventional measure that I can, and am, taking to fight the growth of cancer cells, both now and for future. My hope is that next week's surgery gets all of it and that it has not spread to my lymph nodes. In the mean time, I am taking a holistic approach to fighting this beast. (Some of you saw me refer this is as my own "jabberwocky". If you don't know what that means, it's okay.) I am eating a very strict diet and intermittently fasting, exercising regularly, trying to reduce stress, resting whenever possible, and PRAYING. This is MY health. It is precious and I will fight for it!
We are so thankful for all the family and friends that have checked in with us this week. We have discovered some didn't realized I'd been diagnosed with cancer. Others knew but didn't know we'd posted info on how to help, meals, financial donations, etc. (Find that info HERE.) I guess it was time for an update :)
I'm taking Ryan to a counseling appointment to register for classes at the local community college this fall. He had planned to take a class this summer, but there's too much going on to add that right now. He plans to volunteer to serve as a STM (short term missionary) for Joni and Friends Family Retreat for 2 weeks in August. He'll start fundraising soon for that or come up with some ideas on how to raise the month for his expenses. I'm proud of this kid. This is just proof that life goes on, with or without cancer. The laundry and dishes still pile up too. Imagine that! ;)
We're all adjusting to the idea that our plans have changed. I've contacted the necessary people for work, letting them know I will not be able to commit at this point. God willing, I'll be back soon.

Praise Reports: 
So many answered prayers this week! Thank you all that have prayed and especially those that played a part in it. We have a recliner being delivered this week by a friend that no longer has room for 2. A juicer was given to me by a friend that no longer uses hers. Another friend just bought a new freezer and is giving us her old one. (We still need to arrange for pickup, but it's looking like it won't be available til after my surgery.) We got notice of a donation that will be added to our account regularly as we go through this journey. And my biggest praise this week is for God's provision of a night away with Charlie. We were able to spend a night nearby in Jacksonville, thanks to dear friends that come to stay with the boys last night. Yay! Thank you, Lord!

Prayer Requests:
Please continue to pray for Charlie and the boys. The boys seem to be handling things well right now, but I don't know if that will change as we get closer to surgery. Charlie is amazing, he takes on so much, yet there are moments when the fear and frustration break through. All normal, yet so trying...

Please continue to pray for my healing. I know that the God who made me is the same one that can heal me, if that be his will. I am praying for total and complete healing even as I am preparing for surgery and recovery. It's not from lack of faith that I make these plans, but in acceptance that God is in control, not me. I only ask his will to be done.
Please pray for wisdom and steady hands for my surgical team.
Please pray for my dad and stepmom. Their waiting time is even longer for my dad's surgery for colon cancer. Also include my sister and brother and their families. As you can imagine, this is a very difficult time for our family.
Please pray for the following needs to be met, in one way or another-

Needs:
Air mattress, any size, to borrow (or even a small camp trailer to be parked in our driveway for a week) for my post-surgery caretaker while Charlie's at work. PRAYERS ANSWERED
Friends willing and able to bring meals following my surgery.
More ideas on how to help are here.

Last of all, if you are able to donate and help with our financial expenses, please go to www.paypal.me/twcancerfight.

Friday, June 3, 2016

How to help

"To be rich in friends is to be poor in nothing." - Lilian Whiting

We have truly seen this confirmed time after time. We are so blessed by each of you, both family and friends, near and far. THANK YOU ♥

So many have offered to help and asked what they can do. We appreciate the willingness, but it's so hard to keep track of who has offered! I hope this will be helpful to compile it all in one place. Take a look, see what fits what you had in mind, and know that we truly could not do this without each one of you. The cost of cancer is nothing to joke about and medical insurance only covers a portion of it.

MEALS
To bring a meal or send a gift card, please visit www.takethemameal.com (Weeks/Summer)  or contact Kris Mays at krismays'at'aol.com. I am also juicing daily and welcome any organic garden donations, especially greens and berries, from your garden or the growers market. 

DONATIONS
Donations towards my medical expenses and additional costs of fighting this cancer can be made both locally or online, and in any amount. The way we set this up there are no fees involved and the entire donation goes to help me fight cancer. 
  • At any local Bank of the Cascades bank, a deposit can be made to "TIKA WEEKS CANCER DONATION FUND ACCOUNT". Mailed checks can also be made out to this account and mailed to 1119 Dakota Ave, Medford, OR 97501.
  • For online donations, please go to https://www.paypal.me/TWCancerFight. Donations made through this link will go directly into our cancer fund account.
ADDITIONAL IDEAS
It would be helpful to have a short list of people willing and available to take my boys to some of their activities. The more "normal" we can keep things for them, the better. Feel free to invite them to join your family activities too. I won't be able to take them to all the fun places summer usually offers and I hear being homebound and bored is not good for teenagers ;) Please text me if you are interested in doing that (541)778-7215. We have a few friends that live close by that have offered to do odd little errands. That is a huge help too. I will not be heading to Costco anytime soon!

PRAYERS & ENCOURAGEMENT
I believe in the power of prayer and welcome any prayer warriors that are ready to stand beside me in this fight. I also love getting mail and notes of encouragement, whether by snail mail or email. My mailing address is 1119 Dakota Ave, Medford, OR 97501. Charlie and the boys would also benefit from your prayers and encouragement.

VISITORS
There is nothing I like more than spending time with loved ones. Please understand that I may not always feel up to it and may have my family put a note by our front door to allow me to rest uninterrupted. Know that I will look forward to the next visit that much more. We've placed a little guest book next to our front door. Please feel free to leave a little note, especially if we don't get to visit. 💜

A few of you have asked for ideas, things that I like or that bring me joy and lift my spirit. I had to think about this because it is awkward to do! It feels like I'm writing a personals ad! Sooo, I like living flowers, anything that makes my backyard a beautiful and restful place to heal. I like dragonflies, owls, and peacocks. Those that know me well know that I'm a wee bit of an Alice in Wonderland fan. I like coffee and tea, blueberries and cherries, the ocean and the mountains, and trees. I like to read, especially historical fiction, and I love art. I love going to the movies, theater and music performances, and visiting with friends. I do all of those things at home too. And I love spending time with my family or date nights with my husband. 


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Surgery

I'll be totally honest, this is all moving so quickly it kinda freaks me out. Today I scheduled my surgery. It hasn't even been a month since my diagnosis.
Just before 8 am on Monday, June 13th, I will willing go in for a radioactive injection near my known cancer site to identify the sentinel nodes (lymphatic mapping) that they'll scan and check for cancer. From there, I'll go directly to the hospital (across the parking lot) to check in for surgery. And then the surgeon will remove both of my breasts (bilateral mastectomy) and any affected lymph nodes. *sigh*
Praise report:
I got word today that I'm not the only who got scheduled for surgery. Unfortunately, my dad has to wait til mid July to have his cancer removed, but at least he is scheduled. We will continue to trust God through this process, but sometimes it is so difficult.
We were offered both a freezer and a recliner today. Both are in Grants Pass/Cave Junction and we no longer have a truck, so we'll have to see if that's going to work. Anyone want to pick these up for us? 😊
At the request of family and friends, both near and far, a donation account was set up at our bank and a meal train will be organized in the next day or two. We'll have the details of both available here as soon as possible.
Prayer request:
Please pray that the cancer has not spread to my lymph nodes.
Pray for peace for my whole family, especially my dad as he waits.
Please continue to pray for our financial provision. There are so many costs outside of our medical coverage and the stress of it is already taking it's toll.
Lastly, and most vulnerably, please pray for an opportunity to present itself for Charlie and I to have a night alone together before I go in for surgery. This is never an easy arrangement for us, but I desperately feel the need to be husband and wife, to love and grieve freely this major change away from our parental responsibilities.  PRAYER ANSWERED!
12 days...
A few thoughts had occurred to me this week that I wanted to share. I've received so many love notes and words of encouragement, and with them, many questions. I hope this helps some of you understand where I'm coming from ❤
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
James 1:17
God's plans for me (and you) are for good, not evil. I can rest in knowing that he has approved this trial, this cancer, and allowed it to happen for my good. And for his glory. That is my focus. I will not go so far as to say that my cancer is a gift, but I will say that only he sees the bigger picture. I have only one job: To glorify him in it. That is where my hope comes from. That is why I choose JOY.