Friday, March 29, 2013

Cancer vs. Hope, Faith and Love

Cancer is not only a literal life sucker, but metaphorically speaking, it also tries to suck out all the good in your life. Especially the main ingredients of your soul- your hope, faith and love. It's much like the devil, testing you at every turn. Will you break? Will you falter? Yes, of course you will get off the beaten path every once in awhile, but like in my last blog post, if you have your life perspective in order you will be able to get back on track to kick cancer's ass!

Cancer vs. Hope - ROUND ONE, FIGHT!

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Like the words of Superman, Christopher Reeve, "Once you choose hope, anything is possible"; I believe that once I decided that there was hope for whatever it may be that happened, my existence widened. It has not be an easy to accept this, but I believe I finally made it there.
After I suffered my miscarriage after loosing Shannon I had no hope in my future as a mother. The mere thought of it seemed like a dream, until my dream came true. I still lacked a sense of hope that my life would be what I wanted it to be. Through all of the trials and tribulations of Stephen's health, I had little hope that life would be good enough for me. Once I was diagnosed with Cancer, hope left me completely. How could you have hope when you find out you will die sooner then what you wanted? Well kids, I learned something, life is not in my hands. I should not have been hoping that I would make a good life. I should have had hope that God's plan was what was best for me; and it was, it truly was. It took Cancer to give me that hope in Him. I win.

"In the busy highways of life, hope is believing you will make it to the serene country rode." - Yourssss truly

Cancer vs. Faith - ROUND TWO, FIGHT!

Oh, I couldn't tell you how many times in my life I have completely lost my faith. I just didn't understand why God would chose to do these things to me, nothing made sense. It wasn't fair. It wasn't how it was suppose to be. I won't lie, I hit rock bottom in my faith about 2 years ago. I stopped going to church, I stopped reading the Bible, I stopped listening and stopped learning. I just didn't care. The past 2 years have also been the lowest in my life. I felt completely overwhelmed, depressed and full of anxiety. If you really knew me, you could see it. I just couldn't have faith in someone who continuously tested me, hurt me and let me down. How can you?
I was diagnosed on a Friday, that Sunday we were at church. I needed to be there. I wanted to know why. I never did find that answer, but I found something better that day: my faith. I now pray every day for forgiveness for not having it the past couple years. I remember laying in the bed one night after my first chemo, crying hysterically, in so much pain; I wanted it all to end right then and there. I can't really describe to you what happened that night, but I got quite the wake up call from God. I just remember starting to praise Him and had an immediate relief of my pain. In the lowest moment of my life, there He was. He has restored my faith like nothing else short of a miracle.
I am not saying I don't get upset, and yell and scream and cry and just wish this would all go away. I am human and I have a temper like nothing you have ever seen but I have faith. God has restored my soul because I have faith in Him. He continues to bless me every single day. This battle has been won.

Caner vs. Love - ROUND THREE, FIGHT!

1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

I don't know what is tougher than loving someone that is dying. I have personally been there when my baby girl, Shannon, was dying. It was an overwhelming range of emotions: anger, love, heartache . . . It is actually indescribable. Steve stayed with Shannon as the nurses drew her ventilation tube out. He brought her in to me, as perfect as could be. All I could do was cry and hold on to her as tight as I could, as she drew her last breaths. Even though I whispered to her that it would be okay to go, that I would be okay- I lied. I didn't want her to leave. I didn't know what I would do without her. I loved her too much. This must be how my husband feels now.
Cancer is just like grief on many plains, including how it affects marriages/relationships. Most do not withstand the test of Cancer (like grief), and I now see why. I cannot imagine what my husband is going through. I literally cannot fathom it. Since we are both trying to take care of ourselves and each other it has taken a toll on us. Yeah, we get angry, we yell (well, I yell) and we fight- I don't really know how one could make it through our situation looking like the pinnacle of a perfect marriage. When I said I would take him as my husband six years ago this past Sunday, to have and hold, from that day forward, for better, for worse, in sickness, and in health, until death do us part- I never meant words any more than the ones I spoke that day. We continue to get tested, but Cancer ain't got nothing on us. We have to remember that we are greater than this. Consider this battle won.

My dearest Steve,
I won't give up on us, even if the skies get rough.
I'm giving you all my love, I'm still looking up. 
Happy anniversary my love.

And the declared winner is: ME! Cancer can have my body but it will never have my soul.

Notes from Cancerland: Day 2 post chemo was a tiring one! There were no side effects other than my rash starting to act up from the Herceptin. I took the day to nap and relax. Day 3-5 Post Chemo were incredible crazy busy days! I ache by the night's end and just want to sleep. I am trying to do so much, but its only because overall I feel great. I have been having very crazy mood swings, and I am not sure if it is related to the new medication or not. Some days I feel incredibly overwhelmed by everything. My hair is falling out something fierce and my bald spots are getting bigger every day. I 'celebrated' my 2 month cancer-versary on March 25th- holy crap I can't believe it's been 2 months!

Friday, March 22, 2013

My Cancer Perspective

Let's face it, cancer sucks. Knowing I am dying sucks even more, but, I sure do have a great life. Did it take cancer for me to realize this? Yeah, I think so. Everyone takes life for granted, don't feel bad, it happens; we are human after all. I don't know why but as I was sitting for my second round of chemo today, different things happening through the day put my life in to great perspective.

So put on some music, grab a bubbly and be ready to be enlightened; here is my cool cancer perspective:

1. I am blessed.
Even though this is my first thought, it is the last I came to write about. I have had a daughter die, lost an unborn baby, had two precious girls born 6 weeks premature and lost the innocence of my delivery, had a son born 8 weeks premature who has faced more setbacks in his short life than most have in a lifetime. I have dealt with ignorance of strangers, 'family' and 'friends'. I have fought for a very long time.
After my diagnosis, I thought 'Life sucks, why am I even here?' I had no fight left in me. But then the blessings came. My Cancer is a blessing. Through my mourning, my sorrow and my dark hours God showed me the light. I treasure every minute. I try to live each day as if it were my last, because I could die any day. The family that has dropped everything to be by my side amazed me. The friends who have gone above and beyond what a normal friendship is to make sure I wasn't alone, we didn't starve, or we had money for gas, parking and medical expenses literally leaves me speechless. I have met amazing women fighting the same fight as me, who have shared intimate details of their life with me. I have had so many prayers from complete strangers. The people who have taken time away from their family, friends, and jobs to be there for us is incredible. Lastly, I am a blessed mother and wife. My children are amazing. They are smart, gorgeous little beings. They don't see my bald head or my rash, they see me for who I am. I have a husband who endlessly loves me. It's not easy to love someone who is dying, but, in our own way, we make it work.
Look at all the things I listed. I am bursting at the seams with blessings. I could name a thousand more, but I named the most important ones. Find the blessings in your life, they are there! You just have to be grateful and open enough to see them for what they are: A gift from God.

Ephesians 2:8  
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

Matthew 5:4    
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

2. There is a season and a reason certain people are in your life.
Some friends and family have stepped up and some have stepped back. I am learning that I need to concentrate on what is in front of me. Like I said above, I am blessed; my family and friends who are here are here for a reason. I believe that reason is to bless me. I need to let the people who are here now know how much they mean to me. Ashley wrote a great post about friends, which I pertain to family as well. Some of the people here with me on the journey have no idea how much they mean to me. I need to tell them more often. Like Ashley says in her post, I want to be the kind of friend that I would want to have. I now know what true friendship is and what true family means. I am not angered by the people who have abandoned me- there is a season and a reason there were in my life and gone now; and I am okay with that.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken."

3. Things could be worse.
I sat down in my chemo chair, usually surrounded by older women, but today was different. I sat down across from a beautiful young woman with her friend, and something about her was different- she was 33 weeks pregnant. She found out at 7 weeks pregnant that she had Breast Cancer and would need chemo upon weekly targeted therapies, deliver her son and within two weeks need a bilateral mastectomy and hysterectomy. There was no way to do any scans on her, and she had no idea if her cancer had metastasized elsewhere. She not only had to worry about herself, but her unborn son. Her innocence was stripped away. The normalcy of what should be a joyful pregnant woman was shattered. There was nothing normal about this. This bring me to my third point- I have 3 overall healthy, gorgeous children whom, despite their issues, are here, alive. The twins were the most normal pregnancy I had, and I enjoyed every single minute of it. This woman would never have that chance. So next time you think you have it bad, remember, things could be worse. Enjoy your life for what it is really worth because if someone like me, or this young, first time Mom can- so can you.

James 5:11 

"Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful."

1 Thessalonians 5:18 

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

4. God is a true mystery (And who am I to try and figure Him out?)
I sure do feel like Job most days, but like in Job I am reminded my place. Where was I when the Earth was formed (Job 38:4)? Have I ever walked in the chambers of the deep sea (Job 28:16)? No. I haven't. I know nothing about the lion, mountain goat, wild ox, or hawk (Job 38:39-41; 39:1-30). I respond like Job and say "Who am I to try and figure out that which I do not understand? I ponder things I do not understand and 'wonders beyond my comprehension'." When God speaks to me, I will listen. I have faith. No matter what is directed at me, I will not question. My God loves me unconditionaly. He gave me his only Son. He has blessed me with far more than I deserve. If I could sit across the porch from God, I'd thank Him for all He has given me.

Isaiah 55:8-9 

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Last but not least . . .
5. Life really isn't that bad.
Now, this doesn't just pertain to me, this pertains to the millions of people that think their life is wretched. I read every day on Facebook about how horrible so-and-so's life is because of one trivial thing or another. If you have the above things in perspective then trust me, your life really isn't that bad. There is no point complaining, or hurting yourself because God is great, you are blessed, you have people that love you and there is always someone fighting a greater battle than you. If I can figure this out so can you- so suck it up and enjoy your life!

Matthew 6:25-34 

“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? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 

Notes from Cancerland: It's been one month and one day since my last chemo. My labs came back great today which meant I was good to go for chemo numero dos. Unfortunately my calcium was too low to get my shot of Xgeva. I have to start taking more Calcium every day. The nurse measured my right breast tumor and said it felt 'spongier' and appeared to have shrunk 1 centimeter. I started Abraxane today and had my dose of Herceptin. I won't need Neulasta since my infusion times are weekly. Abraxane went off without a hitch! Just praying for minimal side effects now! Rock On!! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Post Chemo Day 17
My face is slowly getting better. I just look like I have a pink scar all over my face. I seen the oncologist Thursday and he swears that the Taxotere caused the reaction. He took me off of the Taxotere and Perjeta and is giving me two week off to let my face heal. He switched in a new med called Abraxane. Bad thing is I have to start going weekly. Hopefully the side effects are minimal.

I went down to Ulta's for a makeup lesson. The ladies were amazing. They spent an hour and a half with me and showed me how to cover up my psoriasis. I spent way more money than I should have, but hey- look at those results!


Post Chemo Day 11
I thought maybe my face would be getting better but it's still just getting worse. I just don't even know what the hell to do anymore. It is the worse pain ever. My face aches 24/7, I can barely sleep and must take a Vicodin every 4 hours or I cannot even function. I can't even form my mouth enough to swallow my own saliva-  my face is that swollen. It's almost like I had my wisdom teeth pulled out but even my chin hurts. I have like this thick scab over my chin into my jaw and I can't move my face around. It's so sensitive that everything hurts it. Looking at my face makes me sick to my stomach I look so damn ugly. So many people want to visit but I don't want anyone here while I look like this. I am absolutely hideous. Thank goodness I got my medicine today- woot woot! I pray it works within 3 days but I have a feeling my face has a whole lot more healing to do than three days. My oncology appointment in on Thursday so I am hoping I can get off of the drug causing it because I cannot deal with this much longer. Every day I wake up hoping it looks a teeny better and try to be in a good mood but it fades through the day. I have been falling asleep in the afternoon but the kids make that a wee bit impossible. They just don't get it. They throw fits and whine and cry, I get so mad at them. I hate being in this much pain all the time. Aughhhhh.


Post Chemo Day 9
Days 3-5 post chemo were the worst pain imaginable, worse than- gasp- yes- childbirth. But it only got worse when on Post Day 5 my face decided to erupt in a hideous rash. The rash so severe that my face ached in pain. I was unable to eat or sleep. I broke down and called my nurse who sent me to the ER on Monday. They gave me an antibiotic but it just kept getting worse and by post chemo day 8 I was back at the ER again. They scheduled me to see a Dermatologist this time the following morning. So I drove downtown to somewhere I wasn't familiar with by myself, without any pain meds, looking like an alien. They said they see it a lot with cancer patients. Pustlar Psoriasis. Greeeeaaaattttt. So not only do I feel like shit, I look like it to. Don't believe, have a gander at the progression of "The Rash" . . .

I could start to feel my hair thinning out so I had a "Shave Party" on Saturday with everyone who has been really helping me with things- Mom, Sarah, Tamie, Megan, Courtney and Danielle. We picked up pizza on the way to Moms and ate and chatted. Then Steve started and everyone else took turns and Tamie finished up. Even the girls had a go at it. I cried a little bit. It's an emotional experience. I don't really care that my hair was gone, but I really cared why it was happening.