A glimpse into my journey through this valley in my life, called CANCER...looking ahead to the mountain before me and anticipating the reward when I reach the top of this hard climb, trusting and praising my Jesus the whole way!

But I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more. Psalms 71:14

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

This is it...the final treatment!

August 2011, Chincoteague Beach, VA

My Last Treatment today!
Let's throw a party, kick up our heels and rejoice!  Today is my final treatment.  In my last blog I mentioned that the nurses were telling me that I had another month of treatment.  Well, the computer was wrong....YEAH....because emotionally, mentally, and even physically,  I AM DONE.
I realize this journey isn't over yet, and it will take some time to feel "normal" again, but I can be patient with all of that just knowing I do not have to go back.  It has taken all of my 2 weeks to recover and I still have some symptoms that I'm not over, but hopefully I will recover by Oct 1st (that is my goal).  I have a PET SCAN scheduled for mid October to check everything out.  I must say this is already starting to work on my mind and I know I need to hand this burden over to Jesus...I cherish your prayers.
So, today I have the privilege to be escorted for my treatment by my dear husband.  He has been to some of my appointments, but hasn't been to a treatment yet.  And I get to ring "the bell" today.
I do go into this last treatment with mixed emotions.  I'm thrilled of course, but overall the weariness of this whole ordeal puts a damper on things.  I know that I have to endure the smell of the hospital (I get nauseous when I walk in the doors) and these "icky chemo" feelings for the next 2 weeks.  Please pray that I recover quickly...I really want to enjoy this beautiful fall weather and I sure do have a lot to catch up on.

Happy Fall to all of you.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An emotional day!

This bell hangs in the cancer center and when you have completed your last treatment you get to ring it.  The nurses all cheer for you and I always find myself in tears when I get to see this happen.  First, I am happy for the person who gets to ring it ,but at the same time I can't wait until it is my turn.

Well, today I found out that there has been some sort of miscommunication issue.  I have been of the mind set this whole time that my last treatment would be Sept. 19th which would be 2 more treatments after today.  By the way, my schedule is off for those of you who are faithfully praying for me on tx days.  I had off an extra week last week so my little family could do a mini vacation before Connor started back to school today.  It was also good to give my mind a mental break as well.   But still, with all this figured in, I have been counting on 2 more tx's.  They now tell me that I have 4 more with my last tx probably ending Oct. 19th.  I must say that I was very upset, feeling down, and honestly a tad bit angry.  I realize that to most of you 2 more treatments may not sound overwhelming.  It is really a mental process that I now have to reprogram in my mind.  After a lot of crying and talking to Jesus, my husband and also several other family members, I know that I can do this with His strength.  Folks, my hope remains in Jesus and I continue to feel the amazing power of all of your prayers.

Connor's first day of 2nd grade!

As I walked back to my seat and was sitting down, I felt woozy(is that a word?) and somewhat off balance.  I didn't think much about it because that is how I feel during these treatments.  My sister Bev was with me for the day and she said "Tina, do you feel this building moving?".  Sure enough, it was moving and although it was very subtle, it was disturbing since you know that there is quite a lot of building over head.  My IV bags were swaying slightly back and forth.  The nurses who were walking around didn't notice it, but those people sitting in chairs seemed to be the ones who felt it.
We turned on the news to discover minutes later that it was indeed a 5.9 earthquake in the middle of Virginia(10 -12 miles from the home of my brother Dean and his family...they are OK). 

The positive of the day was a surprise visit at the cancer center from a friend during her lunch break.  Charlotte is dear lady who has dealt with lymphoma during the past several years and so her encouragement was very dear to me.

I have been blessed by so many cards and scrapbook pages of encouragement.  So I will end with a card that I received this week from one of my faraway friends(Indiana).  It reads "Your silent prayers uttered on tear stained pillows were heard before they were said.  Your deepest questions were answered before they were asked.  He sees you...He hears you...He knows you... Max Lucado"........."Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.  Jeremiah 1:5"

Good night my friends!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Finally...An update!


I really appreciated these flowers and all the extra help  and encouragement I had throughout this past week. 

    Yes, it's finally me here to give you a quick update.  I guess I have been in survival mode, spending most of my energy and time, when I'm off the couch, with my family and trying to take care of my household.  You see, this journey that I'm on has had a few extra bumps and twisting side trails that I really didn't anticipate.  I did know that none of this would be easy, but these past weeks have been a little tough...OK, a lot tough!
     Let me give you a very brief summary (since I have been neglecting all of you for so long) of how these chemo treatments are going.  Treatments 1-4 went as somewhat expected.  I had the tiredness, neuropathy symptoms, nauseousness,  and what I call my overall "icky chemo feeling".  These symptoms lasted 5-7 days and then I would start to rebound and get back to my "normal" life for a couple of days before my next treatment.  My treatments are every other Wednesday, ALL DAY, and then I wear a pump home for two more days and return to the hospital on Friday to have it removed.  Generally speaking, during this time,  Fridays were usually my worst day as far as how I felt.  Also, after my 4th TX, my good days have started to be fewer;  I don't bounce back as quickly.
     Anyway, during the infusion of one of the chemo drugs during my 5th treatment, I had a reaction that was very terrifying and dramatic....not only to me, but to the nurses as well.  This sure is one way to get attention from 6 of them at once plus have 2 doctors come running.  My next treatment #6, they tried this same med again with me taking 3 pre-meds to try to counteract  this reaction, plus they were going to infuse it over 3 and 1/2 hours instead of the typical 2 hours.  Of course, they were keeping a very close eye on me as well.  I got about 1/3rd through the treatment and started with the same reaction.  They got the med shut down much quicker this time and more drugs given to counteract my reaction, therefore it wasn't near as frightening for all of us.  The result?  I can no longer receive that particular drug because my body cannot tolerate it.  I must say that I was relieved to hear them say that I would not get it again...it was too emotionally scary wondering if I would continue to get a reaction since the first one was like nothing I have ever experienced before nor care to repeat ever again.  My dear Mother was with me on both accounts and was praying for me throughout the whole ordeal.  I joke with the nurses that I am their "problem child"; they are all so very caring and do a terrific job!
    I do have a praise report!  After my 6th treatment(halfway...YEAH!) I had a cat scan that revealed that the little "spot" on my liver is still there.  Thank you Jesus for that spot!  Why would I be thankful for a spot on my liver you are asking???  It was there at the beginning and apparently is very small( a freckle, I call it) and they were not sure if it was cancer that had metastasized.  Since it is still there, they feel at this time that is is NOT cancer because it would have responded to the chemo by now and would be gone if cancerous.   Praise the Lord for His mercies are GREAT!
     Then came TX #7 on July 6th.  They started me on a new chemo to replace the one that I reacted to previously.  All went OK and I went home wearing my pump with the other chemo as usual.  On Friday my pump was finished and I was getting ready to head to the hospital when the trouble began.  Suddenly I had the urge to vomit which up until this point I had not done so...just felt nauseous.  Ten minutes after vomiting, I had intense pressure at my upper chest pushing up my neck and into my head and it did not go away.  To make a long story short, Shawn went with me to the hospital where they sent me to the ER since these meds can cause a whole boatload of other problems such as heart attacks, blood clots, and other disturbing issues.  Ten hours later after EKGs, XRAYs, CAT scans and even a brain MRI they released me with the same symptoms and said that everything looked fine.  Not real comforting I must say!  This continued until the pressure turned to intense and immobilizing pain all through Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with 3 of those days being spent going to doctor appointments, another EKG, an Echo cardiogram, a visit to a cardiologist plus 2 other of my doctors.  To say the least, I have been checked up, down and around...everything came back normal.  Finally Wed. eve was the first that I felt any relief and slowly, but surely, every day seemed to get slightly better.  Today is the first day that I feel close to normal.  Unfortunately I go tomorrow for another treatment.  They feel it was trauma from my chemo meds and my body being worn down along with the intense vomiting that I was doing that caused these issues.  We will see????
     This is getting longer than I had hoped and is probably starting to make you feel like you should get away from the computer and "get something done for once".
     Let me just conclude with how blessed I have been through all of this.  So many of you have watched my children, cooked meals for us, cleaned my house, took me to appointments ,cared and prayed for me....I am so humbled and thankful for all the support you have given.   My prayer is that you and your families will be blessed by our Heavenly Father for showering your love through Christ upon us!!! I do cherish all of your prayers for me and my family...THANK YOU!  Tina

Monday, March 21, 2011

Back to Normal???

 Around here glimpses of SPRING can be seen although this week it can't be felt....brrr, it's much too chilly!

The new flip flops were tested out and just waiting on those warmer days to be worn.


The spring dresses are washed and ready for a warm sunny day to frolic in them.....

I wore this dress as a child.
It was made by my Mother
thus a little sentimental for me.

......and some were even modeled! 

A birthday was celebrated with passion (cause that's how Connor does things!)

Windows were washed...by some
good friends, of course!
  And we started to do our laundry and cleaning again with the help of the little ones to carry the load (2 more weeks til I can lift again)

So basically we are back to normal???

Our new normal!!!  My cancer is considered Stage III.  My surgeon is pleased how I am recovering post-op, and I feel really good.  I have my initial consultation with the oncologists on Wed. March 23 to discuss my plan of treatment.  Several days before these "big" or "unknown" appointments, I find my mind starting to wonder off in many directions and those thoughts need to be prayerfully lassoed in.  I find a lot of hope and comfort in

 Jeremiah 29: 11-13  "For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not to harm, to give you a future with hope.  Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you.  When you search for me, you will find me;  if you seek me with all your heart.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Pathology Report and Mixed Emotions

Let me start out with saying that anytime I spend the day with this smiley chubby little boy my day is brightened.  This is Dillon, my sister's 9 month old little guy who is just so pleasant and makes me grin.

My sister, Bev, spent the day with me and chauffeured me to my doctor appointment.   It was great to have her emotional support, pampering, and her witty way of making me laugh.

I must also say that my surgeon, Dr DeVos, is such a caring, gentle, soft spoken man with a great sense of humor who has won my utmost respect with how he has provided my care and handled these sensitive issues.

So, the Doc first removed my staples and applied butterfly strips to my incision.  This was not painful and caused me no emotional stress.  On the other hand...getting the drain pulled out was one of those moments that I will always be able to think back upon and shudder when remembering the feeling of this very long tube( I honestly had no idea it was that long)being pulled through my abdomen and out through the skin;  more icky and weird then painful.  My abdomen is now stirred up and more sore, but I do now have some "good" pain meds. to help me deal with the discomfort.

On a more serious note, the surgeon gently revealed that I cannot consider myself cancer-free.  He removed 60 lymph nodes from my colon (apparently I have an overabundance of lymph nodes because he said most people have 15 or so in that particular area of the colon, but I had 60.  This is not good nor bad, just the # that I had).  Out of 60, only 2 of the lymph nodes were infected with cancer.  The cancer had also spread into the left ovary which they removed.  It had NOT spread into my bladder or abdominal wall, but the mass had just attached itself to those areas.  Since I am young (yeah, 39 is still young, just in case there are any teenagers reading this) and they want the best long term prognosis for me, the Docs words were "they are going to throw the book at you".  My next step is to see an oncologist and will probably start chemo in about a month.  He said chemo would last approx. 6 months., but I will get a better idea of what this will look like once I meet with the oncologist.  He did encourage me with the fact that he feels I have come through this surgery amazingly well, and that means something going forward.  Of course, I'm thinking that I'm glad I did not come through this poorly because "amazingly well" was NO fun.

So....How do I feel about all of this???

That's where the mixed emotions come in.  On one hand, I realize that the report could have been much worse and I'm praising my Saviour that is wasn't.......but, on the other end of things, Chemotherapy never paints a pretty thought in one's mind and was a path that I was hoping and praying I would not have to walk through.  Take heart in knowing that I am not down and out about this.  I really believe that God has a purpose and a plan for allowing this trial into my life and at the end of all this, I will have a clearer vision of what that plan is and I will be able to fulfill that purpose with a renewed zeal and eternal perspective that I would have otherwise missed out on.  He loves us so much, it's AWESOME!

PS...I still really need your prayers;  not only for me, but for Shawn and the children as well...we are in this together!   And thank you to everyone who is helping us in one respect or another.  It may seem like a small task that you are doing, but to us it is HUGE...everyone has been such a blessing!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"I Will Hear"

"Before they call, I will answer;  and while they are yet speaking, I will hear"   Isaiah 65:24

     My dear sister-in-law blessed me with this inspiring story about a missionary nurse in Africa.  A mother had died in child birth leaving a small daughter and a premature baby.  The baby could only survive if kept warm and their only hot water bottle was broken.  In the years that the nurse was there, no one had ever sent her a parcel.  How were they to get a hot water bottle.  She gathered the rest of the orphans around and one girl prayed "Dear God, please send a hot water bottle this afternoon because it will be too late tonight, the baby will die, and also send a dolly to comfort the baby's sister".  The missionary nurse felt the prayer of the little girl was ridiculous....But, that afternoon a parcel came from a Sunday school class in England with a hot water bottle and a dolly.  It would have had to be sent 5 months prior to them even before they prayed.

     God is so good and He cares about each one of us and everything we are experiencing.  He feels our pain and will carry us though.  He knows all our needs before we even pray.  I say this and know this even though I just called my Mother and cried my eyes out.  I tried to sleep, but do have more discomfort since the good pain meds ran out( I will talk to Doc again tomorrow about this...the Advil and Tylenol just aren't doing the same job like he thought, plus I should feel better after getting my staples and JP drain removed tomorrow also...they are both really irritating me now).  I do feel all of your prayers, but HONESTLY, knowing that I will find out the pathology results tomorrow is pressing on my thoughts and burdening my mind tonight....Please keep praying.  It's getting late, so I will hand these cares over to the One that can carry them for me and I will get some sleep now.  Good Night My Friends!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

An Outing Then A Long Nap

     I decided that a small outing was due.  Connor had a race car derby that he was participating in today and I really didn't want to miss it.  My 2 littlest ones went to my sisters house Thurs. eve and would be there til tonight, so I had 2 days of quietness to get some extra rest. 

      So, Shawn, Connor, and I attended the race derby at 10 am.  All the race cars were hand made and had to weigh in at 5oz. or less.  This is just a fun side activity that the children from his AWANA wed. night program can participate in, if they want to.
Here is Connor getting his car into racing position.  I didn't count, but there was approx. 20+ racers in his age group.  Depending on how you placed each race, you were eliminated accordingly.  It was actually heart breaking to see one or two of the children when they knew they were done.  They had put so much heart and soul into it their little race cars, but overall everyone had a great time.
This is the car that Shawn and Connor worked on together.  Connor wanted the #4 put on his car and he ended up getting 4th place.  We joked with him that next year he should put #1 on his car.  He was such a good sportsman about "almost" getting a trophy in one of the top 3 spots.  Way to go Connor!

     Anyway, we didn't stay for the whole event, but got home just 1 1/2 hours later.  I had lunch and then hit the couch feeling rather worn out.  I realized just how tiring this small outing was when I awoke 4 1/2 -5 hours later....and boy, did I ever sleep.