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Monday, October 31, 2016

31

It's been 31 days of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I don't have anything else to add. Actually I'm sure there's plenty more but I'm tired and worn out.

The good news is I have only 30 more days till I'm done with chemo. The bad news is I'm not sure I can complete it as prescribed. I thought I was getting sick this weekend but then I realized I just felt so toxic...like my body was quitting. Usually my week has highs and lows, with a slight rebound before I go in again for another round of chemo. This week there was no rebound. My headache got worse, to the point of making me vomit. I'm breaking out in rashes all over my legs. They itch like crazy. My throat hurts. I'm running a borderline fever. Very mild under normal circumstances, but there is nothing normal about a body going through chemo!

My oncologist will check my numbers tomorrow and if I'm well enough to tolerate it, my chemo dose will be reduced. If not, I'll have to wait and see. I just want to be done.

One of my best friends is flying in tomorrow, God willing. She'll be here a couple days to walk with me through whatever ends up happening.

I have much to be thankful for but I'm overwhelmed with the yuck.

Worn
Tenth Avenue North

Lyrics
I'm tired
I'm worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing
I've made mistakes
I've let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left
Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that's frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that's dead inside can be reborn
'Cause I'm worn
I know I need
To lift my eyes up
But I'm too weak
Life just won't let up
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left
Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that's frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that's dead inside can be reborn
Cause I'm worn
And my prayers are wearing thin
I'm worn even before the day begins
I'm worn I've lost my will to fight
I'm worn so heaven so come and flood my eyes
Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart that's frail and torn
I want to know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that's dead inside can be reborn
Yes all that's dead inside will be reborn
Though I'm worn
Yeah I'm worn

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Beautiful People, Part V

As we wrap up Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want to again remind you to check your breasts regularly and I'll share one more story with you. Meet Suzanne-

"Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a life changing event.  I learned to put more faith in God than I ever had.  I saw the caring and compassion in so many people.  I learned that I was not alone.  I learned to treasure the simplest things in life.

I was 47 at the time of diagnosis.  I had faithfully had a yearly mammogram since age 40, but 10 months after a clear mammogram, I began having occasional pain, so I went to my doctor.  He didn’t seem concerned but sent me for an early mammogram.  I was taken immediately for an ultrasound and could tell by the tech’s face that she could see something.  Something was also spotted on the other breast.  Within a week, I had 3 biopsies and had received my diagnosis that one of the tumors was cancerous.  The doctor wasn’t convinced that the other side was clear, so I had to go through an MRI guided biopsy which was torture.  It came back negative again.  I also was sent for a PET scan, and the only cancer that was found was that in my right breast.   Once all of the pathology reports were back, it was discovered that my cancer was Triple Negative - a less common, very aggressive cancer. 
What a terrifying time this was.  My boys were 12 and 15.  My husband was out of the country on an extended business trip.  I had just lost a friend to breast cancer, so that’s what my boys knew about the disease – people died.  I tried to reassure them that I was going to fight as hard as I could.
The oncology team formulated a plan.  Every three weeks, I received chemo.  I had 6 rounds.  I lost my hair but not my sense of humor.  I kept smiling through it all as that helped me stay strong.  I was weak and tired, but I continued to work – because that helped me feel like I was in control.  My family and friends were awesome – helping with my boys, chores, cooking, etc.  Getting through chemo was definitely a mind over matter thing.  I had to be strong and be in control. 
After chemo, we knew that the tumor was smaller.  The doctor left the surgery up to me.  At diagnosis, my immediate thought was to have a mastectomy – I just wanted the cancer gone, but after I had time to really weigh my options, I decided to have a lumpectomy.  I did not get clear margins.  The surgeon said I needed to decide what to do next.  I opted for a mastectomy.  Again, I did not get clear margins and had to go in for a third surgery.
After the final surgery, the doctors gave me a few weeks to recuperate before beginning radiation.  I began daily radiation before Memorial Day and finished after the 4th of July. 
This should have concluded my treatment, but my oncologist presented me with an opportunity to participate in a clinical trial.  There was a trial going on for Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) patients.  Patients had to have done chemo before surgery and still have active cancer cells at the time of surgery.  Patients accepted into the trial were put into two groups.  One group would receive a very strong chemo drug for 4 rounds.  The second group would have that same chemo but would receive an IV of a trial drug for each of the four rounds and then move on to an oral trial drug for 20 more weeks. 
This was a lot to think about since I was finished with my treatment, but after prayers and soul searching I applied and was accepted into the trial.  I was no longer a patient but was now referred to as a subject.  I was put into the group that received the trial drug in addition to more chemo.  The first part of the treatment was brutal.  The chemo was awful.  The doctor offered to let me back out, but I didn’t.  I kept at it, and nearly 20 months after diagnosis, I was through with treatment!  I was able to complete my reconstruction surgery too. 
20 months of treatment was brutal on my body.  I was fatigued all of the time.  Gradually my strength came back, but I don’t think you ever get back to the person you once were.  It’s a matter of accepting that I had been through so much, and this was the new me.  I had osteoporosis prior to my illness.  All of the chemo caused the osteoporosis to become very severe, and I am undergoing treatment for that.  There are still days when I become easily exhausted, but I try not to complain because I am alive!  I am grateful for each special event that I get to share with my boys.  I know these events are things most parents take for granted, but I don’t.  I was diagnosed a little over 5 years ago and look forward to my 5 year ‘cancer free’ anniversary next March!"

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Health and prayers

It's been a great week of celebrations. Seeing my son on stage again. Getting keys to my own studio. Lots of hugs and smiles. And I think someone shared their cold. Oh well, it was bound to happen, right? I spent today resting and will do more of the same tomorrow. Please pray that it doesn't get any worse than this. Chemo was already making my sinuses hurt and this added pressure is awful. There's more to it than that but I'm hoping rest is all I need right now.

We also got news today that a dear friend had a heart attack this morning. Please add him and his family to your prayers. God knows the details and we trust his plan.

What started out as a rough week, with both my sisters having to cancel their visits, turned around mid week and now is ending with concerns we can do little about. Giving these things to the Lord, both good and bad, are all we can do sometimes. And hold onto his promises.

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
ISA 41:10

“Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
Luke 8:48

Friday, October 28, 2016

Don't stop dreaming, praying, living

A week ago I shared a bit of my dreams with you all and asked you to join me in prayer. I had been praying for almost a year to find a perfect location for an art studio, the right price, lease conditions, and more. With my cancer diagnosis, I knew I need to focus on that but with the end of treatment in sight, I've been looking, searching for that perfect one. I felt confident that God would let me know when I'd found it, if that be his will for me, but I had no idea how quickly it would all come together!!

I made a special announcement on my business page today. I even got all dressed up for it. I'll be finishing chemo on Nov 30th and opening my art studio in December!! I'm so excited! I've got my keys and I'm watching God work miracles as all the pieces come together even better than I could have hoped.

Don't ever stop dreaming. Keep praying and trusting the Lord. Leave your future in his hands and LIVE in full glory of the love he pours out on you. EVERY DAY. He hears your prayers. He knows the desires of your heart. And he loves you💗

The Beautiful People, Part IV

Breast cancer does not discriminate nor does it "play fair". Breast cancer can strike at any age and knows no social boundaries. Both men and women are affected. Here is another reminder that each story is so different. Meet Andee-

"Here's part of my story....I believe that we, as human beings, are body and mind and spirit.  I believe that one's body must be in balance with one's mind.  And that one's soul plays an important part, the major part, the crucial part, in one's life.  .............I'm a small woman with large breasts, and I wear an underwire bra.  In Sept. 2014, the underwire was really irritating me on my right breast and kept poking me. I kept shifting the underwire around, trying to get comfortable, thinking, "Great, my boobs are getting bigger and I'm popping out of my bra. Time to get re-sized."  So I went and got fitted, and sure enough, I went up another size.  Awesome.  About a month later, the underwire was hitting the same spot again, and I couldn't believe it.  Did I go up another size again?!  So I was feeling the area, trying to figure out how the end of the underwire could be poking me so hard when lo and behold, I found a hard little nugget in my breast.  A definite lump.  Believe it or not, I didn't think much of it.  I Googled "underwire causing irritation" or something like that and I got hits that said yeah, the underwire can cause irritations and sometimes cysts but they're harmless...!  Harmless.  Nowhere did it say: Get Checked.  You have to understand that at this point in my life I was really busy, and really stressed at work, and also at home.  I didn't have time to worry about underwires, soreness and large boobs.  But I had it in the back of my mind to call my doctor, and I did.   But insurance doesn't pay for more than one yearly exam and pap smear, so the doctor's office told me I had to wait until November for the annual check up to be covered through insurance.  And my mammogram comes up in December.  Finally in November I went to the doctor, she felt the lump and said I needed to get a mammogram, and I said yes, I have one in December. She said, no...Now!   Two days later, on a Friday, I was getting a mammogram and biopsy.  I had to wait the weekend to get the results. In the middle of a very busy Monday, juggling two meetings, the technician called. Nothing rocks your world like getting that news. Nothing.  Your world flips.  Time slows down.  Suddenly everything is different, your world shrinks, and nothing prepares you for it.  And yet, I was calm.  My reaction was one of complete sadness and loss.  I was so disappointed.  Profoundly disappointed that my life might just be over. This was it.  The moment when you realize you have to leave this earth, and it was the most unbelievable level of sadness you can imagine.  I stayed in this state for several days, mourning the fact that my life was likely over.  I didn't deny anything, or blow past it, and stayed with this news, but then I got angry about it for a day, or two.  Or three.  Just mad.   I processed it, I was still shocked at the diagnosis, and thought about how unfair it was.  Not the 'why me? Refrain but just that it was unfair to me, in my life, to have to leave and I didn't want to go.  I wasn't ready.  Then I realized that I REALLY didn't want to leave, wasn't ready to die, or let go.  I wanted to live, I wanted to be here. From that moment on, I accepted the diagnosis as a challenge in my life, an obstacle, something I needed to get through.  It was one more mountain to climb in this crazy life of mine.  Once I decided to 'stay', I felt better.  Not great. But better than the awful disappointment of giving up and dying. My diagnosis was Stage 2B, HER2 Positive. A clinical trial was available and I took it.  I was diagnosed Nov 17, 2014, and I had my first chemo on Dec 23rd, and cooked Christmas dinner two days later.  I didn't know!  I cooked poached salmon just as the nausea started hitting me badly.  That was horrible!  But.  After three chemo treatments, the tumor shrunk by 1/3.  By the 6th chemo the cancer cells had disappeared.  I've had tests, blood labs, MRI's, PETscans.  That cancer was gone.  The doctors knew I would do well in the trial since the drugs they used had been successful, but didn't know I would do as well as I did.  In may 2015, I had a lumpectomy to remove the dead tissue and create clear margins around it.  A month later I began 6 weeks of daily radiation.  I protested this much radiation, but it was part of the clinical trial and they all said, better safe than sorry.  How can you argue with that?  Part of the treatment included 12 more chemo treatments but they did not include Taxotere or Carboplatin, the two main chemo drugs that are effective (sort of) but which make you really sick.  It wasn't fun doing these treatments, but it was totally manageable. I finished that in January 2016.  It's October 2016 now and I've spent this year getting my strength back with acupuncture, supplements, physical therapy, special massage, meditation, and joyfully living.  I'm cancer-free, and healthy after this long, strange journey.  Now that everything is healed, on November 1st, I'm going for a consultation to a plastic surgeon for the lumpectomy related effects.  My breasts are uneven from having taken out so much tissue on the right side.  You can imagine this is kind of a mixed blessing.   I don't really want another surgery, but they will have to reduce the left breast to match the smaller right one.  Perhaps I can live with that.!  Perhaps a smaller set of breasts!  Maybe no more underwire....That would be nice!  In the meantime, Sending love and prayers to Tika and all the other women for continued healing and a happy, healthy life."

I'm thankful this love and these prayers. Join us in praying for all the other women affected by breast cancer, for their continued healing and a happy, healthy life💗

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

From my son

Cancer does not just effect the one with the diagnosis but all who are close to him.

When I set out earlier this month to share my story, I invited my husband and sons to consider sharing their perspective as a way of giving an inside view of life with a cancer patient. Weeks have passed and I didn't hear a word more about it so I figured it either wasn't their thing or they felt it was mine to tell. Til this week. My oldest son asked if the offer still stands for him to share.
Of course, my son...
Meet Ryan, my eldest:

"Hello, my name is Ryan Weeks. I’m 16. I like rock music, Alexander
Hamilton, scary movies, Tyler Joseph, snowboarding and acting. I can’t
stand on my hands, I can’t do math well, and I don’t know karate. Face it.
Most would say “I’m never gonna make it.” Oh, also, I’m related to someone
with cancer. My Mother. Mom. Madre.
In early 2016, I received the news that my mother had a disease
that everyone and no one talks about. The thing people say “at least you
don’t have that” or says nothing about when it happens except for sorry.
Cancer. The unimaginable.
“You hold your child as tight as you can. And push away the
unimaginable. The moments when you’re in so deep. It feels easier to just
swim down.” * After hearing the news of the diagnosis, I spent the next week
or two in a subconscious denial of the new life that was coming. The new life
as the child of a cancer patient. I wondered how people would react, how
they would treat my family after hearing. Their gain and lack of words. I
wondered how this would effect my Mom, my Father, and my Brother. I
wondered if they would be upset or be put in a emotion of disarray. But, I
didn’t quite let it hit me till a later date.
The later date, surgery day, hard day, life day. All the name’s could
describe that day. They were all in the same, yet all apart. Words couldn’t
seem to come to say goodbye as the time came. The words were caught in
my throat. I couldn’t say “goodbye” as they took her in. I spent the rest of the
week regretting that. The thoughts flooded in, words I could never speak.
“What if?” “That could have happened.” But no one knew these ailed me.
Thoughts of the unknown, the despicable possibilities. This was one week,
its been several months since then. And many more things came into my life,
troubles and blessings alike.
The cold hard truth about my side is that my whole family is effected.
Life is stressful in itself, but to add something like cancer on top of school
and other things, it can take a toll. Like what happened to me, that some, but
not all know. The stress from all the things in my life, from trying to take all of
this on my shoulders, caused me to end up in the ER. Although I am okay
now, there are things that could have been done to prevent it. Ways to
relieve the stress, like talking to someone.
The blessings seem to be what seems to be all that people want to
hear. No one wants to know the pain, the hurt, the complicated. The feeling
of alone. Being looked at like an animal behind glass at a zoo. Something to
watch, not to interact, not to be spoken to, and just left alone. Something I’ve
always fought for others not to feel. Though the thought seems to be selfish,
but to be asked how someone else is doing, yet yourself not be asked the
same seems just harsh.
I guess my points are, when you see someone going through
something hard, don’t leave them alone. That causes things that can’t be
undone, things that scar. The feeling of aloneness may never truly leave till trust is gained by someone who stays. So my message to you all is, when
someone you know is going through something hard, think of everyone
involved. Their immediate and extended may also being going through pain
as well.
Now I close this message with a quote, something I take to heart,
something that means a lot to me. Something about reliving the pain of
things. – Ryan
“ Are you searching for purpose?
Then write something, yeah it might be worthless
Then paint something then, it might be wordless
Pointless curses, nonsense verses
You'll see purpose start to surface
No one else is dealing with your demons
Meaning maybe defeating them
Could be the beginning of your meaning, friend.”

Please keep these young warriors in your prayers. They are fighting right alongside me. 💗 Let those pink ribbons be your call to prayer!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tears

After fighting it all day, I've come to the conclusion that I really just need a good cry. I prefer laughter but sometimes that doesn't erase the burden of a long day.

I love my sister. She is one of my favorite humans ever, a lifelong friend, a constant source of love and encouragement. She was to fly in from California to see me today but she missed her flight and another was not an option. I didn't realize how much I was looking forward to her visit...until she wasn't coming.

My sister-in-law was supposed to drive down from Portland this Friday to come visit for the weekend. Initially there was some concern over these 2 visits so close together, would it exhaust me, would it be too much...and now it doesn't matter. She's running a fever and we can't chance me getting sick right now.

My girlfriend is flying in next week. Her first visit in the 12 years I've lived here in Oregon. Please pray that nothing comes up. Pray for her health and home.

I'm trusting God today. As much as I thought I needed these special visitors, he knows what's best for me. Crying won't change a thing but I can't help it. These disappointments come from my expectations and I realize that my eyes had shifted from what's most important. Him. Jesus. My joy is in him alone. And I'd forgotten for a moment in anticipation of these other loved ones.

Foobs

I set out this month, this October, this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to educate and bring true awareness to you instead of cheerleaders in pink and pink ribbons on cans of food or cups of coffee. I'm giving you an inside view of my breast cancer battle.

Earlier this month I shared my post-surgery photos and the brutal truth of how my body has been changed physically. It's been 4 months now since my bilateral mastectomy and I'm so thankful for the healing that God has granted my body already. I still have numbness and slight tenderness in spots, especially under my arm where lymph nodes were taken. I went through physical therapy that loosened some of the tightness across my chest but I suspect only time will tell what the longterm effects will be.

When I look in the mirror now I have to remind myself of 2 things- I am wonderfully and fearfully made AND this body is both temporary and a temple. It does matter what I think and feel about my body. I've known this since I was 10 years old. I have to accept all the scars and imperfections AS IS because that's how God sees me. And he loves me just as I am.

That brings me to my foobs.

faux + boobs = foobs

The first ones I got after my surgery in June were basically reminded me of shoulder pads straight out of the eighties. Teardrop-shaped lightweight foam to tuck into special pockets built into my bra. With no weight them, they move all over the place with a simple hug or putting away dishes. (I secretly think they are trying to make their way back to my shoulders!)

See what I mean? 
And then Saturday I got UPGRADED to a pair of silicone foobs with these neat fiberfill pockets on the back. They are heavy enough to stay in place. They warm up to my body temperature and feel somewhat "normal". The best part about these new foobs is that special pocket. I can adjust how much or how little fiberfill goes into each one. This will be especially handy next year when I begin the reconstruction process. More on that later. 
You might wonder why I'm sharing this. Well, mostly because these are just some of the things I wish someone would have told me about before my mastectomy. I think it would have given me some measure of comfort to know my options instead of just being rushed into surgery. So there you have it. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Beautiful People, Part III

This dear friend of mine, I've known her for years. Our paths crossed through homeschooling but we've had many conversations over our health and nutrition over the years. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, I was heartbroken for her and yet absolutely amazed at the grace with which she faced it. I couldn't imagine myself in her shoes, wondering if I would handle myself so well. Her love for the Lord shines through, as I'm sure you'll see, and she continues to be an encouragement to me daily. Meet Emily-
"last fall, i noticed swollen lymph nodes in my left armpit that didn't go away. i figured that they were from illness passed around in our family, but after a few weeks i texted a girlfriend ( a local MD) to get her feedback. we agreed that they were likely some function of breast feeding (milk ducts), but it would probably make sense to have it checked out.
Early December, I saw a female doctor who did a thorough breast exam and upon palpating the lump in my armpit, assured me it was not lymph nodes but very likely milk ducts. both of my breasts looked and felt completely normal. she suggested waiting six weeks to follow up, but offered an ultra sound if it would make me feel better.
i'm so glad i said yes to that ultrasound.
those early dark days of fear, of waiting, and then finally learning my diagnosis of stage 3, her2 positive invasive ductal carcinoma on january 8, 2016 ... some of the darkest days of my life.
immediately, though - that night of january 8, in fact, i had an overwhelming urge to *learn*, to research deeply, to plant my feet firmly in a proactive and open place. i felt, in the deepest part of my being, that i had the capacity to affect the course of this disease and that GOD had given us extraordinary healing tools. i just needed to find them.
one of GOD's greatest graces in my life has been the gift of my life partner and husband, and he also felt that same passion to learn ... so we spent that first weekend moving between shock, tears, discussion, study, prayer and back to shock.
those first several days,  i would wake to the remembering of the nightmare that felt like a bad dream. but days moved forward, and they were filled with such amazing support, love enveloping me. and i felt an unwavering resolve, and so after making decisions based on research and then confirmed through work with those i gathered to be a part of my treatment team, i implemented radical lifestyle changes. if i could support my body in healing and could inhibit the growth of cancer within my body with choices that i made about what foods to eat, how to move my body, how to breathe and rest and live each day, how could i not?
the learning continues. healing pieces continue to be revealed and my current healing protocol reflects the season of healing that i am in ... currently nearly done with radiation. there has been chemo, and a surgery (lumpectomy) and radiation and every step has been filled with wrestling with decisions, seeking 2nd opinions and wise counsel, and GOD's abundant grace guiding me.
my deep passion is to encourage others that are walking this journey, that HOPE is real! that there are so many many options and tools and our bodies have extraordinary capacity to heal and that through the journey, GOD is so faithful and close. I see an open, expansive beautiful spaciousness ahead, and look so forward to walking in to a future of abundant health and joy!
(more about my story on my blog at www.home2learn.wordpress.com)"

To support Emily in her healing process, visit her GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/EmilyGreen.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Rest

A weekend spent with my beloved- resting, relaxing, healing. We are celebrating our 18th anniversary on Tuesday so I'll keep this short.

It occurred to me today that I am thankful that God gave us over 17 years together before having us walk through this trial. If it had been asked of us 10 years ago, I think it would have destroyed our marriage. But today our love grows stronger as we face this together.

Tonight I'm praying for your marriage, both those that are married now and those yet to be united. Always always always put God first.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Beautiful People, Part II

As I shared before, each story is so different. Meet Erin.

"I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma triple positive breast cancer stage 3 in sept 2015. I had been feeling f a hard small lump prior while nursing my 3 year old surviving twin Grace. The lump js on the same side that I carried Baylie on the left. I started to feel the lump after my brother passed 2 years ago. When I went to doctors they told me it was nothing I'm to young and breast feeding however my gut won't rest. I knew it was something. The doctor that delvered my twins believed in my intuition and referred me to a mamma gram. Biopsy confirmed. I knew it has to do with the grief. I watched my disabled sister pass to a reoccurrence of brain cancer. The chemo and radiation took whatever quality of life she had left. It took her a year to die a gruesome death. I promised myself that if
I ever got cancer I would do it different. I started researching immuno therapy And how to heal the immune system since cancer is a auto immune disease. I watched the truth about cancer thankfully before choosing treatments. I went to
Hope4cancer for 3 weeks in Tijuana Mexico. It was incredible and I learned so much about my body and why it stopped seeing cancer. I've done a lot of emotional healing detoxing from all the grief. I've learned to love myself and not
Feel guilty. Cancer has taught me to forgive. Tumor has shrunk no lymph involvement we are healing one immune boosting loving treatment at a time"

If you would like to support Erin's battle against breast cancer, please visit her GoFundMe page https://www.gofundme.com/366ak34z.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The future

I'm trying to keep my eyes fixed on the Lord. He alone knows how many days I have on this earth. Cancer or not, I can't change that but I can change how I look forward. I need to make plans, allow myself to dream, believe in them, even if they never happen. Some of them will.

I am looking forward to having my energy return so I can work again. I love my job. I get to share the gifts God has given me to encourage others and watch them grow. I look forward to not having my calendar full of doctor appointments. 41 days and I'll be done with chemo. Only 6 more rounds. I got this.

I've been looking at potential spaces for my art studio for months. In fact, I was looking last spring when my world stopped and I was told I have cancer. I was ready to sign a lease then. Now, with the end of chemo getting closer each day, it's all I can think about. I've been carefully watching for the right location. I've gone to see several but hadn't found the right one. Til this week. So now I'm praying. Join me, won't you?

But for now I'm going to sneak away with my beloved to celebrate our anniversary ❤ Looking forward to just being together and relaxing.

Round 10

I think this is my new favorite thing: walking with a friend during chemo. While I may get odd looks, more often then not I get smiles, laughter, and encouragement. Plus it's a great way to catch up with a friend and make a few new ones.

Photos:
IV gets connected to my port. The nurses here are all so sweet.

Thanks, Walking Buddy! This dear lady, we've been friends for 8 or 9 years. Now that our boys are all older, we don't see each other as often, but when we do it's just us and we always have a great time catching up. ❤

After my hyperbaric oxygen treatment, I wrapped up my day painting at a fundraiser held for me at local art studio. A sold out event doing what I love- can't be beat! Oh, maybe it can...In addition to the hosting artist, another local artist came to show her support too. Competitors or not, these ladies showed some seriously love today! Not to mention a lovely mix of our customers 💜

42 more days. 
6 more rounds.
I can do this!

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
PHILIPPIANS 4:13 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Anxiety

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"
MATTHEW 6:25

I'm not sure why today was so hard. It just was. The truth is I'm feeling anxious and I can't shake it. Please pray.

I had my labwork done today and had my  appointment. I'm beginning to think these appointments are pointless. My oncologist and her PA never seem to be on the same page and it's frustrating. One tries to take me off the supplements I'm taking, the other offers pain meds. I was told today that their goal is to "minimize my suffering" so I can complete chemotherapy. I feel like I'm overloaded with toxins. My head hurts all the time. My body aches. I get my little "break" tomorrow. They'll give me steroids with chemo and my body will think it's just fine. 7 more rounds. 43 more days.

do not be anxious about your life...at times this seems nearly impossible. I want to get on with my life yet am fully aware that my own cancer awareness will be with me for the rest of my life. I'm praying for freedom from this, not knowing how God will answer but trusting that he will.

what you will eat or what you will drink...
I am so over thinking about my next meal. For someone with no appetite, I spend way to much time worrying about what to eat, will it be good for me, will it taste appealing. I eat to nourish my body. I feel like each bite is an offering of love to a body being abused by the chemicals coursing through my veins. I eat to give life back where cancer has been destroyed.

nor about your body, what you will put on...
It's a silly little thing to realize that nothing fits my forever changed body quite right. I was encouraged to buy a new dress for a photo shoot I was nominated for. At first I was excited at the thought of a little splurge to look and feel pretty, just in time for my anniversary, but now I'm wondering how I'll find the energy to go...will I be able to find something? Does it even matter?

I just want to sleep.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
MATTHEW 6:33

I'm seeking you, Lord...knowing you hear my cry...believing your promises...

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
MATTHEW 6:34


Monday, October 17, 2016

Tired and Rambling

I've always been a night owl. I'm trying to do better but my body doesn't cooperate sometimes. In order to heal, my body must rest.


It's gotten to the point where I'm looking forward to chemo day each week. For about 48 hours following chemo I have no sinus pressure, no headache, no fatigue. I'm so hopped up on goofballs (aka, steroids) that I feel invincible. Sometimes I foolishly give into that and do too much.

Sometimes I don't recognize myself in the mirror. Sometimes I don't know what God really wants me to learn from all this. Sometimes I get mad. Sometimes I'm sad. Mostly I'm just me. Sometimes I need to remember (and be reminded) who I belong to. 

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

PSALM 139:14 

I will...because I am. They are. And it does . Very well indeed. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

45 days

Today it stuck me that in 45 days I will be sitting- no, WALKING-  through my last round of chemo. Only 7 more rounds. I can do this. 

This has been a most challenging time BUT I'm thankful for the joy God has given me along the way. I want to say that I'm ready for the healing to begin but in my heart I know that it has already begun. 

What will YOU be doing in 45 days? 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Diet and Nutrition

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."  -Hippocrates

I am a firm believer in the value of a healthy diet. What you eat can bring healing to a broken body or it can break a healthy one.

Rewind a several years-
After years of chronic pain, fatigue, and several auto immune disorders, I gave up on my conventional doctors that only wanted to offer me more pharmaceuticals. It got to the point that I couldn't tell the difference between the original symptoms and the side effects from the many medications they'd prescribed. I had my doctor wean me slowly off of everything while I made a plan I could commit to. I'd been doing my research and taking notes, slowly implementing changes along the way. It was time to commit to it 100% and I did.  I was not digesting the good healthy food I was eating and was malnourished (my doctor's words) and morbidly obese (also my doctor's words). Time for change.
Gradually my body healed. And it started in my gut.

Earlier this year-
I was in the best health of all my adult years when I received my cancer diagnosis in May. I was exercising regularly, eating well, and pain free 95% of the time. I was building my business and thriving, doing what I love.
When I heard "cancer", it didn't take long to look again to what I needed to do to bring healing. I did more research, this time looking specifically for cancer-fighting information. I got connected with doctors who would support and advise me on this road. They've been essential to helping me sort through the "factory-produced" one-size-fits-all care offered through conventional medicine. I already knew that was not for me.

And now-
My diet is focused on getting the nutrients my body needs in with every bite. This does include supplements and vitamins. Intermittent fasting has been an important part of my treatment, as well as fasting going into chemo.
Take a look:
On Monday, my first meal of the day (midmorning) is fresh organic veggies that I've juiced myself and thrown in the blender with frozen berries, half an avocado, vitamin C crystals, and collagen. This smoothie washes down a handful of vitamins and supplements (vitamin D3, turmeric, and more) plus one medication. Dinner consists of more veggies, usually a salad, and a small portion of "clean" meat.   I have a few more supplements (immune system booster, melatonin, selenium, etc.) I take at night and a second dose of my medication. I avoid dairy and most grains right now. No sugar, only low glycemic fruits and veggies. My carbs are kept to a minimum. Trust me, there's science behind this. Want to know more? Just ask me😊
Tuesday, the day before I go into chemo, my integrative oncologist now has me going into ketosis. (Previously, I was in a full fast for 36+ hours, leading up to and going into chemo.) I still don't eat till midmorning, as part of my intermittent fast (13-14 hours starting the night before), but this time I have less protein and more healthy fats. No juicing on Tuesday. Dinner is ketogenic and light.
Wednesday is chemo day. I don't eat anything till my ketogenic dinner (like Tuesday's meals). I like this better than when I didn't eat at all on chemo days!
Thu-Sun look just like Monday.

Oh, and my doc says I can drink my coffee. Bless her!!

Friday, October 14, 2016

To mammo or not to mammo?

I mentioned before that mammograms have become a controversial topic. Should I or shouldn't I? I think it's important to know both sides so you can decide for yourself. Afterall, I've declared true awareness and education to be my mission for breast cancer awareness month.

Just remember, I'm not a doctor so I'm totally unqualified to give medical advice. I'm just a warrior in the trenches sharing my research. As a longtime homeschool mom with a great love for learning, I typically dig deep, compare information, and always consider the source of that information. And I pray. Do with it what you will, my friends.

Just a few mammography facts to consider for yourself:

☆ One of the largest and longest studies of mammography to date, involving 90,000 women followed for 25 years, found that mammograms have absolutely NO impact on breast cancer mortality. Read more from the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal).

☆ Ionizing radiation (that's what mammograms are) used to discern breast tumors is a risk factor for the development of breast cancer. Say what?? And, if you do have a malignant tumor, the crushing compression (mammogram) of your breast could cause it to spread. Dr Mercola talks about it in this article. It can be even riskier for women with the BRCA gene mutation because they are typically advised to have more frequent mammograms, thus exposing them to more radiation when they are already genetically prone to be at risk for developing breast cancer. How does this make sense?

☆ Despite what certain organizations and colorful campaigns would have you believe, mammograms do not prevent breast cancer. They detect tumors, once they are sizable enough to detect, but they do not prevent you from getting tumors in the first place. (Source: Love, Susan, Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book, 3rd ed. , Perseus Publishing: MA. 2000; p. 125.) I have this book if you're interested in reading it.

☆ Mammograms can miss more than 25% of all breast cancers,known as “false negatives.” Additionally, “false positive” results can occur when a mammogram finds something in the breast that, on biopsy, proves not to be cancer. Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information.  I can tell you from personal experience that the stress and anxiety these women experience is identical whether cancer is confirmed or not.

☆ Other options, often unknown include MRIs and thermography. MRIs give a more detailed image than a mammogram with less radiation exposure but they typically aren't recommended because they cost more. I had an MRI done to get a clearer picture of what was going on, at the suggestion of my integrative oncologist. It revealed a second tumor that the mammo and ultrasound did not. It also showed the spread to my lymph nodes. Thermographic scanning, digital infrared imaging, is another option to consider, either as an alternative or in addition to conventional methods. Here's a great comparison of these options.

There is so much to consider yet you'll only hear the pink campaign's clarion call to get a mammogram this month. Next Friday Oct 21 is National Mammogram Day. I hope that between now and then you'll take the time to do some research and decide for yourself.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

My teacher

It's a weird sensation to have, a false sense of energy and total exhaustion at the same time. I am also confused and content, by both the way my body feels and the way my mind feels. Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde.

And then a friend posted this:
"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but I still do something. I will not refuse to do something I can do." - Helen Keller

And that says it all. I get frustrated with the conflicts between my brain and my body, they're always competing to be heard, to be master. Then the Lord speaks to my heart...and I know. He gives me wisdom just for asking...and rest.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
JAMES 1:5

Chemo drains my energy but the steroids they give me with it gives me a boost that makes me feel jittery and "high". Sleep is hard to come by but it's absolutely necessary. Two days after chemo (tomorrow) I'll crash. It feels like I spend the next few days recovering.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I'm learning how to pay attention to my body even better than before. And I thought I was a good listener before! I'm learning to be wise in all things, seek God's will for me in this, pray. So many prayers...I can't form the words sometimes but he knows the prayers of my heart. I'm learning to take the rest he offers. I'm learning to ask for help...and then let go. I'm learning...and healing.

I never expected Cancer to be my teacher.
Or me, the reluctant pupil. Resistant. Rebellious. Resigned. Reformed. Rested.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Beautiful People, Part I

Today I want to share a story other than my own. I've met so many women beautiful women who have walked this road before and some that are walking it now. As part of my 31 days of Breast Cancer Awareness Month series, I've asked several of them to share their story, each one so different.
SDG 💗 Tika

Meet Alisa:

AN OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE

I’ll start this cautionary tale like many breast cancer stories begin:  I was young (or so they tell you when you get cancer in your 40’s), had no history of breast cancer in my family, and none of the causal factors.  That being said, I dutifully had my annual mammograms starting at age 40.  By 44, I had lost some weight, was working out regularly and was truly in the best shape of my life.  I was determined to hit middle age without missing a beat, intent on setting myself up for a long, strong, healthy life.
I had started with a new GP who had taken over the family medicine practice of my beloved GP following his retirement.  The new doc and I had not yet found our groove when she called me with the news of my mammogram.  She handled it so poorly that I’ll never forget nor forgive the impact it had on me.  I was traveling for work.  She left me a voicemail at 4:55 pm, saying that there were some abnormalities and to call her back.  I called back within five minutes, terrified, and she had already left for the day.  That thoughtless, heartless, woman left that kind of message for me, knowing full well that she and I would not connect that day.  I spent a sad, lonely, sleepless night in my hotel room, 1,000 miles from home.  I didn’t feel that I could even call anyone for help or sympathy, as I didn’t know what news there was to share.  I reached the doctor the next morning.  She referred me to an oncological clinic.  We never spoke again.
I met a kind, generous, thoughtful, and helpful team at OHSU.  There I was told that I was “lucky;” I had Ductal Carcinoma in Situ, which according to them is hardly breast cancer at all.  The recommended treatment for DCIS is lumpectomy followed by 6 weeks of daily radiation.  The idea of radiation scared me more than the cancer did.  Ironically, because I had slimmed down, there was very little fat tissue between my breast and my heart.  The radiologist told me I had a 15% chance of developing permanent heart damage from radiation, given the location of the tumor at the back of the chest wall.  Also, because of the small size of my breasts vs. the size of tissue they would need to remove during the lumpectomy, I would need (ok, want) reconstruction.  It sounds radical, but based on these factors, I opted for a mastectomy.  At the time, I asked what the chances were of developing cancer in my remaining breast.  If they were high, I definitely would want a bilateral mastectomy.  I was assured that my odds were no different than had I not had the DCIS diagnosis.  The mastectomy and recovery were pretty easy on me.  I kicked back during a 4 week leave of absence from work and enjoyed lots of reading and binge-watching.
The following spring, I had reconstructive surgery, and all things considered, I was happy with the results.  I had not been prepared for the complete loss of sensation from my clavicle to the bottom of my ribcage.
I followed up with a mammogram on my remaining breast the next fall.  In the spring, a year following my reconstructive surgery and 6-months after that negative mammogram, I had a follow up appointment with my oncological surgeon.  As she examined my remaining breast, she found a lump.  I was not so lucky the second time.  This was stage II, invasive carcinoma, HER-2 positive.  Again I was traveling, again I received news over the phone, again I was left crying and alone in a hotel room, this time 3,000 miles from home.
And this is where the out-of-body experience begins.  The crazy thing about breast cancer is that you don’t feel sick until someone tells you you’re sick.  The cancer doesn’t make you sick, the treatment does.  During the entire course of my chemo, and the after effects, and the hair loss, and the weakness, and the nausea, and the sleeplessness, and the hot flashes, I had this bizarre feeling like it wasn’t really me going through the experience, but rather the rational me observing someone else.  Oh, here is what someone who has cancer does.  Now she goes to this appointment, because they tell her to.  Now she goes to purchase a wig, not for her own satisfaction, but for the comfort of people she works with.  Now she has an MRI.  Here is her going into surgery to have a port put in.  Now she sits in the chemo chair, waiting for poison to entire her body, because that’s what cancer patients DO.  I was never a pink-wearing, poor me, complain-to-the-world type.  In fact it made me feel incredibly uncomfortable when people described me as brave and strong.  Brave?  Strong?  Hardly.  This was the most passive I had been in my entire life.  Bravery and strength take action.  Mostly I was just lying there, letting it all happen to me.  Because there was no other choice.  Because this is what women who have had two breasts removed in a year-and-a-half do.  Because I wanted to be alive.  And still it never seemed quite real.  I almost felt like someone acting the role of a cancer patient, because it all felt so foreign to me. 
But gradually, ever so gradually, nearly five years hence, I’m almost me again.  Days at a time go by when I don’t think of myself as a “survivor.”  The mirror image looks normal to me, because it IS me; it’s my reality.  The chemo-brain fog continues to lift, and I can remember people’s names, and dates, and the titles of my favorite movies again.  To this day, I don’t think of myself as a cancer survivor.  Cancer doesn’t define me.  Maybe that sense of out-of-body was a protective mechanism for me.  It worked.  I’m just someone who had cancer a couple of times. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Receipt

I'm getting ready for chemo tomorrow so I'll try to keep this post short. Just wanted to give you a glimpse of my "receipt" for my out of pocket expenses so far, not including nutritional supplements, vitamins, or the high cost of eating an exclusively clean diet. Keep in mind that I'm halfway through chemo and this will likely double in the next two months. My treatment doesn't end with chemo though, but when my strength returns, at least I'll  be able to work again. Thank God!!

For those of you that have supported us financially, this is where your generosity has gone. THANK YOU!!

All donations, no matter the size, are welcome and appreciated. My family thanks you too ❤ Donate HERE.

Can't make a cash donation? My guys appreciate the meals you've sent their way. There are still spots to fill if that is a better fit for you. Meal train HERE.

And most importantly, we need your prayers. My whole family is affected by the stress of my battle with cancer. My oldest son was in the ER last night with what we think are anxiety attacks. My youngest already struggles with anxiety. You can imagine my husband's burden. I don't talk much about my fears but they have been haunting me quite a bit the past couple weeks especially. So, above all else, remember us in your prayers please 💗

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
ISAIAH 41:10

Monday, October 10, 2016

My face hurts

Today has been a long day. I started off seeing the ear, nose, and throat specialist that my oncologist referred me to. I was expecting a thorough examination of my sinuses. I was not expecting to have my nose cauterized. Did I mention the freakishly long scope they stuck up my nose?? *sigh* No sign of polyps or infection but he's unsure if there's inflammation further back, something to explain the excessive pressure I'm feeling. Now he's sending me for a ct scan before proceeding with this week's chemo treatment. Please pray that I don't have to delay treatment and that I'm well enough to continue on course. 

This afternoon I saw my dentist. Good news, only one tiny cavity and he almost missed it. Everything else looks good so this rules out dental issues as the source of my pain. 4.5 years ago he found 5 cavities that appeared within 6 months. I refused to have them filled and instead treated them naturally. All 5 healed themselves and I haven't had any further trouble. I'll do the same with this one. The best part of this visit was having my dentist ask about my oral hygiene routine and then having him tell me to keep doing what I'm doing because clearly it's working! Bonus: he only charged me a small fraction of what it would normally have cost me to see him since my insurance doesn't cover him. Hallelujah!

I have 4 more appointments tomorrow. This is my life right now. I hate cancer.

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
ISAIAH 40:31

I'm leaning heavily on the Lord right now, needing his strength to get through everyday tasks.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Family history

Yesterday I posted information on how to do a BSE (Breast Self Exam). I shared how I have been checking my breasts regularly for as long as I can remember. Like many people, I'd been taught that my risk for breast cancer was higher because a family member had it.
My maternal grandmother
My maternal aunt
My maternal cousin
They all had breast cancer. That doesn't even include other cancers that "run" in my family. And 3 weeks before my diagnosis, my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer.

After my biopsy results came back, I sought out a doctor who would give me the personalized care I felt necessary to lead my cats team. I saw an integrative oncologist, a medical doctor (MD) with specialized training in complementary, functional, and integrative approaches, combining conventional and alternative therapies. It was her suggestion to run  genetic testing on me, to see if I'd inherited the BRCA gene mutation. I did not. My tests came back negative. My aunt also had this testing. Hers were also negative. If I understand this all correctly (don't forget, I'm not a doctor!), this means that neither one of us inherited the gene mutation putting us at risk for breast cancer. Yet we got it.

I think this is even more reason to check yourself regularly. Sure, there are other risk factors, but we don't seem to hear about those nearly as often as family history.

Photo: Just 2 weeks after my diagnosis came, my family headed to southern California for my cousin's wedding. This is a photo of my first cousins in attendance (there are 4 or 5 missing), plus 2 first cousins twice removed (children of one cousin) and the groom who just got married into our crazy family, God bless him. It was our grandmother that had cancer 30 something years ago. Then my aunt. Now me. How's that for statistics?

Here comes 2 reminders:
1- Check your breasts. Do it right now. If you don't know how, go back and read yesterday's post here.
2- ➡💗⬅ Your pink reminder to PRAY for all those suffering from and affected by breast cancer. Thank you.

While you're praying, would you mind praying for me as I go into see the ear, nose, and throat specialist about my nose bleeds and sinus pressure? I've been continuing to have both and a constant headache to go with it.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

BSE

BSE (Breast Self Exams) are the key to early detection of breast cancer. It is recommended that women as young as 18-20 years old begin examining their breasts regularly. How regularly? Ideally, every month at the same time, following your period. For men (and women not having regular periods) choose the same day each month, like your birthday or the first of each month. 

Now, I'm not a doctor, and I don't have daughters, but I'm just thinking this might be something to teach girls when they start menstruating as part of their self care. On the other hand, I DO have 2 sons. Guess what they'll be learning soon?

How to do it? It's simple. By touch and by sight. My preferred method is in the shower. As your hands glides easily over your skin, any abnormalities become more apparent. 


What to look for: 

And remember, this isn't just for women. Men should be checking too. Preferably THEMSELVES!😉


There is a mixed bag of opinions on whether or not to have regular mammograms or skip them all together. Some fall somewhere in between. Please do your own research and decide for yourself. 

You might be wondering if my annual mammogram caught my cancer. No, it did not. In fact, I had one in May 2015 and there was NOTHING of concern. For as long as I can remember I have done regular BSEs because I knew my grandmother had breast cancer and I continued this practice. In January 2016, 7 months after my last mammogram, I felt a lump in my breast. That's how quickly it grew. When I finally got it checked in April, allowing for 3 more months to grow, a mammogram showed "something" but the radiologist was more concerned about calcification he spotted. An ultrasound was ordered and that confirmed that there was a mass that needed to be investigated. I was scheduled for 2 biopsies, one of the calcium deposits, the other of the suspicious mass. Only the mass came back cancerous. 

Would I have done anything differently? Yes. I wouldn't have waited till April to see my doctor. Quite possibly my cancer would have been discovered before the second mass had formed or I might have avoided the cancer spreading to my lymph nodes. I have regrets, only a word for my loved ones: check yourself regularly and if you find something, don't wait to get it checked by your doctor. It could literally save your life!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Surgery [Warning: graphic photos]

really debated over how much to share. I wasn't sure if I wanted to put these photos out publiclyfinally decided it needed to be done. Modesty can be put aside for the purpose of educating and bringing a real awareness of breast cancer. 

On June 13, 2016, I went in for a bilateral mastectomy to remove the cancer from my body. (The original post is here.)

Right breast: modified radical mastectomy. The cancerous tumors in my right breast were removed, as well as the surrounding breast tissue and 12 lymph nodes. (I originally thought it was 8-10, but before surgery the doctor told me 1-3 was what he expected to remove based on my MRI.)

Left breast: prophylactic mastectomy (preventative) 

I've always been a big girl. With big breasts. No shame, it's just the way I was made. In my younger years, I hated the unwanted attention they drew...til my promiscuous phase when I enjoyed it. Marriage and children changed my life and my body, including my breasts. When I came to the Lord, I learned to love the body my Creator had given me and was amazed at the ability he had given me to bear children and feed them. 

Cancer is a thief. It has stripped me of so much. I remember asking my surgeon just before going into surgery if my tiny flower tattoo, my first from when I was 19, would still be there (on my left breast) when I woke up. It was such a little detail but I was grasping at anything that could remain untouched. The surgeon spared my tiny flower. Barely. 

My post surgery photos, clockwise from top left: 
My "before" photo, censored only as much as necessary; immediately following surgery, complete with my drain tubes and bandages (I had to use the stretchy gauze since I blistered from an allergic reaction to the tape adhesive); me, breastless, with just steri-strips remaining; the fleshy and fluid contents of my drain tubes, measured twice daily, even when they clogged; and my drain site, a plastic tube stitched to my side. 

Folks, I'll say it again- It's not about pink ribbons. Breast cancer- no, ALL cancer- sucks. It's not cute or pretty or sexy. It may be Breast Cancer Awareness Month but most people already ARE aware. It touches so many lives. They just need to know they can do something about it. Check your breasts regularly. Think before you buy those pink-ribboned items this month. Know where your money is going. If you're inclined to donate to my battle against breast cancer, there are no fees and your entire donation will go towards my fight and my recovery. 

I know where every single dollar I've spent on breast cancer has gone this year. My research, my treatment, my healing is not over. And there are so many others like me. 

NOTE: This post has been shared with the blessing and support of my family, for the purpose of sharing our story and educating others. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

When things get weird

I've never in my life taken so many pictures of myself! I'm finding it necessary though to keep track of the changes that are constantly happening to my body. Besides, they're cheap entertainment. To me anyway! 😉

My eyebrows are thinning considerably now. My eyelashes too. I had to stop wearing mascara last week since it clumps together what little I have left and it looks like there's only 3 lashes. Plus more fall out when I take it off at night. No need to help them along.

Oddly enough, I'm getting peach fuzz AND stubble on my scalp. My sister says that just shows how stubborn I am. My hair keeps trying to grow even as it's falling out! I'm still waiting for my leg hairs to fall out so I can stop shaving. No such luck as of yet. 😂 But look at all those freckles! I've never had those before. 

My fingernails have a unique ombre look to them. I call them my chemo meters. I'm guessing the color will change all the way to the tips by the time I'm done with chemo. That's about the rate they've been changing. 

All this is just one big game of the chemo wheel of fortune. Each week I spin to see what new side effect will pop up! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Chemo day

I have reached the halfway mark.
I have reached the halfway mark.
I HAVE REACHED THE HALFWAY MARK!!

Today I completed my 8th round of chemo and I have 8 more to go. I finally feel like I can see a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. I know some of you have been praying. I can feel the protective covering over my body, mind, and soul. God is so good.

BODY: The plethora of side effects are still plaguing my body but I'm doing everything I can to manage them. The recent nosebleeds I've been having prompted a trip to the emergency room last week and now I'll be seeing an ear, nose, and throat specialist to make sure we're not missing a hidden problem. This also led to me reevaluating my ability to work right now. I simply can't. No matter how much I love it. No matter how much the income helps. My attention needs to fully be focused on my battlefield.
MIND: The depression I have been fighting is lessening and I'm accepting it as it is. I'm learning to let myself just feel what I'm feeling instead of trying to put on a good face. (I did that for years with my chronic pain issues and look where that got me. Nowhere.) The artifical menopause caused by chemo and the steroids that go with it are making it worse. I am so thankful for each of you that heard my cry and reached out to me these last few weeks. You are my Aaron and my Hur. (Read Exodus 17:8-16 if you're not familiar with the reference.) 😉
SOUL: How can this whole journey NOT bring me closer to God? I have had every emotion- sadness, anger, grief, joy, love, and gratitude -flow through me. I have questioned everything but am learning to accept it AS IS...the same way he accepts me. I am a mess and I know it. There are some things I can do something about, and I do, but the rest is in God's hands. I am in God's hands.

And remember, when you see PINK this month, PRAY. Before you make a PINK purchase, think. If you can't be sure your dollars are truly supporting breast cancer patients or research, consider donating that money to someone like me, deep in the trenches. I can tell you exactly where it's going.

Ready...set...💗pray!