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

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.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Home Feels Good

     Home sure does feel good.  Wed. and Thurs. were really tough days;  I was thrilled to be home, loved the visitors and phone calls, but was exhausted and very nauseous.  Thurs. afternoon, my Mom took me for a cystogram where they inserted dye into my bladder to see if it had healed enough to take the catheter out.  Yeah....it had, and so they removed the catheter at that time, which is enough to make one feel better instantly.  I am scheduled to have my staples removed and my JP drain removed from my abdomen on Mon. Feb. 28th.  It sounds painful, but I think I will feel so much better once that is done.  My dear sister Bev is spending that day with me and it should be interesting having her to take me to that appointment;  she feels faint just thinking about it. LOL.
     Spoke with my surgeon today;  he said the preliminary report revealed that all the edges of everything they took out with surgery were clean.  On Mon. he should have the rest of the report back which will tell whether the cancer was in the lymph nodes and whether it was actually in the things they removed(ovary, fallopian tube, abdominal wall, and small part of bladder)or if the mass had just wrapped itself around those organs.  Please continue to pray for a miracle report!
     My parents left Thurs. evening to head back to Florida.  Their support and sacrifice was just so overwhelming to me and I can't thank them enough for being here for my family.   But....as my Mom said as she left "Tina, I wouldn't have it any other way....this is what family is all about".  I love you Mom and Dad!
Hey Kristi...this cheerful boutique was from you...thank you for blessing me and loved chatting with you also.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Going Home

Goodbye bed which caused my tailbone to ache,

Goodbye cheery yellow walls, and super nice nurses!

     I left the hospital on Tuesday, Feb. 22 with surprisingly mixed emotions.  Getting my first real shower that morning felt absolutely refreshing, but just getting ready to go and packing up my few scattered things just about did me in.  By the time my Mom and the transporters came to my room, I was wheeled down to the exit feeling exhausted, nauseous, and wondering if I was really ready to go home.  Was I going to be able to handle all the excitement there with 3 small people ready to have their Mommy home?  So with tears, I climbed into our vehicle, so grateful for the great care I had received, happy to see my Dad and children who were in the vehicle, and praising Jesus for his sustenance and care through this time and trusting Him to continue to provide me with the strength and healing that I need in the days to come.

Monday, February 21, 2011

4th Day Post-op

Hi..It's me, Tina.  Shawn brought my computer in yesterday.  My sister, Bev, has been keeping you posted I believe.  My surgery went well although the surgeon ran into some things he was not expecting.  The mass was attached to the abdominal wall, left ovary and fallopian tube, and my bladder.  The ovary and fallopian tube were removed and actually gave the surgeon the worst trouble.  Part of the abdominal wall was removed and then repaired and likewise with the bladder.  I need to have my catheter at least a week since the bladder had to be repaired.   Because these areas were attached, they were not able to perform the surgery lapriscopically, so I have a beautiful long incision up my abdomen and a small one on the right side which has a drain attached to it.  My greatest pain was immediately after surgery and was not related to my incision, but instead my lower back.  Evidently my muscles were seizing with spasms from lying on that hard bed in the OR for so long(approx. 4 1/2 hours).  The surgeon actually operated 3 hours.  The pain medicine was not touching my back pain and I couldn't get comfortable or rest; my body was so tense and I couldn't think about anything else since it was so intense.  My personal aide, Shawn, was kept busy trying to get me comfortable and he did try with such patience and concern.  Finally at 7pm I talked to the resident again and said that I would not get any sleep that night if I didn't get relief, plus I felt myself getting very anxious.  They more then doubled my pain medicine and I could feel it working.  All of a sudden my vision became clearer and I felt 90% better and knew I could handle anything else because I could finally think straight.  Later that night they gave me a pain pump that I could regulate the pain on my own.  Yesterday they removed the IV bags and the pain pump.  Today I actually get to try some food.  My incision is very sore which I am taking Percocet around the clock, but I'm incredibly weak and tire quickly.  I sit here and do nothing, and I know that's what I'm supposed to do, but I'm just not used to being in this position.  I keep asking the nurses if there is something I should be doing because when I'm at home there is always something on my mind that needs done......That's just how we mothers are, I guess.  Please continue to pray.  We do not have the pathology report back yet, so we are prayerful that it will be a good one.  Talk to you later;  I think I need to rest.
PS.  The doc is very pleased with my progress and might send me home tomorrow.  YEAH!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Surgery Date, A Valentine Date, and A Dear Sister-in-law

      I'm sorry it has taken so long to let you know what is happening since my appointment with the surgeon.  I have had the stomach bug for the last 24 hours...yes, I believe my children shared it with me;I am diligently trying to teach them the concept of sharing!!!
    Shawn and I met with the colorectal surgeon and were very impressed with him.  He took his time with us and explained everything thoroughly and in an easy manner.  Basically, the biopsy of the mass came back as Adenocarcinoma, which simply put, is cancer of the colon;  mine is in the sigmoid portion.  Surgery is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 17th at which time he will remove 8-10 inches of my colon and all the blood supply and lymph nodes that go along with that area.  This surgery will be performed laproscopically(sp??) which is a YEAH for me as it cuts down on scar tissue and my recovery time.  He will also finish my colonoscopy while he is in there and check out any of my other organs that he can possibly see.  I wonder if he can check out my tonsils from that angle;  oh that's right, I don't have my tonsils anymore.  Also, he will biopsy the spot on my liver.  My hospital stay should be 3 days. 
     My main prayer requests at this time are:
1.  That the lymph nodes are NOT infected and that the mass has NOT grown through the bowel wall.  They have no idea with either of these until they get in there.
2.  That the surgery goes well WITHOUT complications and WITH a quick recovery.  I will be able to lift only 10 pounds or less for 6 weeks which will be a challenge with the little ones around here, although they are getting old enough to understand and to climb up themselves.
3.  That while in the hospital, things will run smoothly for my family and household.  My dear parents are driving home from Florida to stay here with the children during my hospital stay.
4.  And for Shawn as he is along on this journey as well, but has his own set of worries and concerns.

   So where does the Valentine date and dear sister-in-law come into all of this you might ask????

Well, after leaving our appt., we walk out to the parking garage to discover that we are locked out of the van.  The keys were not locked in.  Awhile back we had to put in a new ignition and so the key is different for the doors and for ignition.  Shawn had grabbed the spare set, which evidently doesn't have a door key on it, so nevertheless, we were stranded.  After many phone calls and regretting that I never got AAA, we walked over to the hospital cafeteria for lunch.  Shawn said "well, at least we get to spend more time together" and hence, we decided to make it our Valentine date.  Two hours later we were back in our van because my dear sister-in-law Kenda interrupted her day to come to our rescue, in which I can't thank her enough as it was an hour drive there since she had to run to our home first for the keys. 

HAPPY early VALENTINES DAY  MY FRIENDS....don't forget to tell your loved ones today just how special they are to you as we don't know what tomorrow holds.
(a birthday boutique from my friend Michele...thanks.  It is lovely and so blessed me)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God;  and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  1 John 4: 7

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Positive News

The CAT scan showed nothing significant outside of the colon...Praise the Lord!  There is something very small on my liver, but they are not sure what it is at this time;  they are thinking it isn't cancer, but the surgeon will check it out during the surgery to remove the mass.  Will have an MRI in 3 months to see if it grew any.  They will send biopsies of the mass away for genetic testing because it is so rare for someone my age to get this.  There is something called a genetic syndrome that can predispose people to certain cancer.  I pray this isn't the case because that could affect my siblings and children.  I continue to cherish your prayers and we continue to put our trust in the ultimate Physician!  Surgical appointment still stands for Feb. 9th.  I'm ready to get to this point, so we can move on, plus my intermitten pain and pressure still continues.  I continue to work as life must go on.  Thanks for Praying!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why It Hurts

Allow me to share with you 3 big reasons why this hurts so much.....


Let me show you 3 small reasons why this is so hard.....

....and one more reason

Need I say more?