Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Getting Closer to the End

Yesterday was treatment number 8. I am finally seeing the end of the tunnel. I will be done with chemo by the second week of January. Yipee!!

I am still feeling good. Yesterday I was really tired when I got home and went straight to bed and slept for 2 hours and I had no idea what was going on around me. Kevin took me my treatment yesterday mainly because I forgot to ask anyone else to take me. Luckily they were not too busy yesterday so Kevin got to sit with me most of the time except when I let him go out and get him some lunch. A special thanks again to Rachel Gray for bringing over supper last night. She makes a very good Poppy seed casserole.

Thank you everybody for keeping me in you prayers. I love how God works in my life. Sometimes I start feeling a little discouraged but I feel the prayers working. Sometimes I think it is just meeting a random person on the street. Just last week, I was having a down day but I had to go to Joanne's for some crafty supplies. As I was checking out one the men who works there asked me how I was doing. He had checked me out before (and I mean at the register so I could buy my stuff). Since I was wearing a turban, he had asked if I was going through chemo and he told me that he had gone through it also several years ago. When I in there last week, he saw me again and asked if I was still doing good. I really appreciated that and I know it is God telling me that it will all be ok and I will make it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Over Halfway Done

Today I had my seventh treatment out of 12. I am still feeling pretty good. I have been getting a little tired easier but nothing unbearable. I met with Dr. Raefsky first this morning and he seems pleased with my progress. He mentioned hormonal theraphy that I will have to do after this is over but we are going to get through these treatments until we worry about that. When we get done with these treatments I will have to get a CT scan just to check a tiny spot they saw on my liver at my last CT scan. Both the radiologist and Dr. Raefsky was not overly concerned but they have to check it to be safe.

It was a busy day at the oncologist office. I have moved my treatments to Mondays because of Thanksgiving. I think I like Mondays better because I am getting it over with at the beginning and don't have to think about it all week. There were a lot of people there getting treatments today. So many people that there were not enough chairs for the patients so people were waiting for others to get done. I met another lady named Belinda who was going through cancer for the third time. She tickled me because she was really enjoying talking but she was sharing way too much information about her bodily functions. It was nice talking with her and she shared her snacks with me which I appreciated because I was hungry and I forgot to pack a snack and I was hooked up to the IV and I couldn't get a snack that kept for the patients.

A big thanks again to Margaret McPeak for driving me to my appointment last week. She has taken me 4 times to the doctors and I am appreciative of her for taking time out of her week for me. My mom took the day off to take me today. Since it was so crowded she couldn't sit with me so she got some Christmas shopping done.

Did you know that Steak 'n Shake has a Happy hour from 2:00-4:00? After I got done, my mom wanted to get me something to eat or drink so she suggested a milkshake from Steak 'n Shake. We went through the drive through and ordered 2 Peppermint Chocolate Chip shakes. She counted out her money for the 2 and when we got to the window the very nice man gave us a total for one and when we questioned it, he told us that it was Happy Hour and all drinks and SHAKES are half price. That made both of us so very happy and it was good.

Friday, November 20, 2009

We Have Something in Common and We Wished We Didn't

On Thursday, November 19, I had treatment number five out of 12. So far, any side effects that I have had have been managable and I can go about life as normal as possible. I do come home from my treatments tired but I manage to take a nap but as I said before I can't get back to sleep. Like tonight, it is almost 3 in the morning and I am wide awake. I could have gone to see the midnight showing of New Moon this morning. The main reason that I am still awake is that I had a rather large cup of coffee after supper tonight.

Today was John Derrick's 5th birthday. My baby boy is growing up very relunctantly. He knows he is our baby and he wants to stay that way but I still see how much he is growing and learning and next year he goes to kindergarten and I get teary eyed just thinking about it.

I really am beginning to dislike going to the doctor especially since I have to go every week. I have been going on Thursday while John Derrick is in preschool and of course Faith is at school. So I only get one day of the week child free and I have to try to get a lot done during that time so losing that day really messes me up. But when you go every week, people start becoming familiar faces. I am quite the reserved person so I don't always start up conversations but I have met a lot of people who are there for the same thing. We are getting some type of treatment for some type of cancer. So we all have that thing in common and I know I wish I didn't have that thing in common with them. I have met a teacher from the Lebanon Special School distict (she teaches at Castle Heights Upper Elementary where Faith will be next year), I have met only person who has gotten the exact same treatment as I have, I have seen a lady up there several times while there but today she sat across from me and we were able to talk, I think she said that her cancer was in her bones and she had stem cells removed and she will go back to the hospital on December 18 to have them put back in and to receive more chemo and she will be there for 2-3 weeks. Today I also met a lady who was getting her first treatment for breast cancer that had come back in her lungs and spinal cord and she was going to be there all day till 4:15 in the afternoon. There is another lady I have seen twice but have not spoken to her but she doesn't wear a wig but wears scarfs and turban and she looks so beautiful and peaceful. Last week, I was able to chat with another lady and we didn't talk about treatments but talked about our children. Her children were older, one being in high school and the other a freshman in college but I enjoyed the talk. There are some men who are there, they usually comment on how young I am and we will exchange a few words. We are all having to do this and I garantee that we don't won't to be there and we are all making the best of it and keeping as positive as we can. I keep them in my thoughts and prayers because we all want to be healed.

A special thanks to Kolleen Mangrum who drove me to my treatment last week. She stayed with me and really helped to time passed by. Last week was different because shortly after I got to the treatment everyone left and no one else came in and we had the whole room to ourselves. Also thank you to Rachel Gray who brought us dinner last week. She lives farther out and while she would drive me, it would be a long trip so she decided to make me dinner instead and I definitely appreciated it because I didn't feel like cooking or going out to eat. Thank you to Jenny Leech who drove me today. She had her kids so she wasn't able to come up with me but I soooooo appreciate her taking the time to drive to get me and take me home. Her little boy, Cooper, is John Derrick's best friend.

Now I really need to try to get some sleep. I would hate fall asleep tomorrow when I go see the matinee of New Moon with some of my friends....

For this reason I kneel before the Father,from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Three Down and Only Nine More to Go.

Last Thursday, I had my third treatment of Taxol and Herceptin. I do get Herceptin every week which is not a big deal. So far these treatments are not bad and I don't have a lot of side effects. I think the worse part is the Benadryl they give me. This week I had to take a nap after I got home. I had a pretty good nap but then I could not get to sleep that night so I was awake till 1:00 a.m. I did get in some good TV watching.

A big thanks to Nicole Brashear for taking me to my treatment this week. She stayed and kept me company even though I was quite sleepy. It was nice spending time with her and having someone to talk to because these treatments seem to take sooooo long.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Another Round of Treaments

On Thursday, October 22 I started my next round of treatments. I will be receiving the chemo drug Taxol and the targeted therapy drug Herceptin every week for the next 12 weeks (although I think I get Herceptin every 3 weeks). I met with Dr. Raefsky yesterday and he seemed pleased with my progress and reassured me that these treaments would be better tolerated and so far he is right. I felt good last night and this morning I feel like I normally do. I so hope this will be the way I feel after each treatment because I can handle this.

Kevin was able to go with me to yesterday's treatment. That treatment lasted FOREVER! They had to put the drugs in slowly to make sure that I didn't have any reactions to them. But, the rest the treatments will go quicker. They had to give me a bag of Benedryl before the Taxol and the Benedryl made me a little sleepy. I tried to go to sleep but I could never get to sleep, and I was too tired to concentrate to read the book I brought. I listened to my music and tried to play a few of the games on my Ipod touch. I thought I would never get done but I was only there for about 4 1/2 hours.

Now, for a little bit of inspiration. I will freely admit that I was not looking forward to starting anymore treatments. I am ready to be done. I am tired of going to the doctor and I hate that I have to waste one day a week for the next 12 weeks for treatments. I have been in a bad mood all week long. Wednesday morning was the worse day of all. I had to go to the grocery store and John Derrick was going to have to go with me and I don't like taking him grocery shopping. That morning, I get a call from the Beth, Dr Raefsky's nurse, telling me that when the did the MUGA scan last week they forgot to do a EKG and I needed that done before I could start the treatments and could I come in and do that sometime that day. So I had to drive all the way to Hermitage (about a 25 minute drive from my house), wait and then get the EKG done, and drive back to Lebanon and do my grocery shopping all while John Derrick was with me. John Derrick was angel all day long. He was so good while waiting at the doctor's office and while we were shopping. He didn't complain and didn't aske for a million things. God knew I needed that.

I am always amazed how God works in my life and how He knows when I need to be cheered up. By the time I got home that afternoon, I was exhausted and still not in a good mood. It was Wednesday and we go to church on Wednesday night. I was debating if I wanted to go or not because I was so tired. I went to church and was so thankful I did because I was lifted up by all the wonderful things that went on that night. First, Nick McNabb, our youth minister, delivered our devotional thought that night and he said the things I really needed to hear about looking for the positive in life. The last song we that night was "Sing and Be Happy" which is one of my favorite songs. On my way to class, someone stopped me and gave me a present just to let me know that she has been thinking of me. It was a beautiful bracelet that I know she made. I go to the ladies class on Wednesday night and we are discussing women in the life of Christ. We discussed Salome, the mother of James and John. I left feeling encouraged on how to be a better mother. When I got home that night, I felt so much better and more positive and it all because God knew I needed to hear all that I heard that night. God is good.

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. (James 5:13)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Race for the Cure

This past Saturday, we the did the Race for the Cure in Cookeville, TN. It was a really neat experience, and something that we will try to do every year. This was the first time that they held a Race for the Cure in Cookeville. They had a fairly good attendance of about 1500 people.

Kevin, Faith, and I all walked the 5K (3 miles) along with my dad and my niece, Emilynne. John Derrick and my mom sat in the warm car will we were walking. It was very early and VERY cold. My dad kept a steady pace and got quite a bit ahead of us. I was very proud of Faith and Emilynne. I was afraid that they would complain the whole time about the long walk. Faith is only 9 years old and Emilynne is 12 years old. They walked and talked and had a really good time. They didn't like that it was cold but they never complained about walking and that made me so happy. Unfortunately, I did not get a good night sleep the night before and I woke up very tired and I didn't feel too good. I walked the whole way but by the time we got done walking, I was extremely exhausted and my legs were hurting. I felt like such a whimp because 3 miles is not that far and I was wishing that I had stopped at the 1 mile mark. But I did not give up and made it the whole way.

Next year, I will feel better and hopefully I can get a team together. I would call them the Pink Ladies. If we have tshirts made, I would put my verse on the shirts, Romans 15:13.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Still Waiting...

I finally made it to the doctor this morning for the follow up visit after my last treatment. Everything seemed ok to them. I still have some additional treatments to undergo but as of now, I am not sure what it will be. I had signed up for a clinical trial and I need to be randomized into one of several different treatment plans. Beth (Dr. Raefsky's research nurse) is going to get that done this week and will call and let me know which plan was chosen for me. Meanwhile, I will be getting a MUGA scan done of my heart and EKG on Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Did I Mention the Worse is Over?

I did make it through this past weekend. It was rough. When I blogged on Friday, I was feeling really good. I was hoping for a good weekend but that was not the case. Sometime in the middle of the night, the chemo made me sick. I was sick enough to wake up Kevin (who graciously let me have the whole bed to myself) to come and get my back up nausea medicine. It really didn't help because I was still nauseated most of the night. The nausea finally subsided enough for me to get back to sleep. I slept the whole day on Saturday. I wasn't just laying in bed dozing, I was asleep. I finally got up around 4:00 in the afternoon and stayed awake for about one hour. I fell back asleep and didn't get up again till about 12:30 on Sunday. I stayed awake most of the afternoon on Sunday but still went back to sleep really early.

On Monday, I had a 3 month check up with my breast surgeon, Dr. Lawson. She did a thorough check and found everything satisfactory. I go back to her again in 3 months. I did find out that I will not have to have a mammogram again since there is (her words) "no mammo to gram"

I did start feeling a little better on Tuesday. I did not want to do anything so I didn't. Kevin had to make a trip up to Louisville, KY so it was just me and John Derrick at home. He was really good, we just sat and watched cartoons all day and I ignored the complete wreck that my house was in. That has been one of the most annoying things, seeing how messy a house can get when no one is doing anything. By the end of the day, I was exhausted so when my dad brought Faith home from school, I let him take both kids away so I could try to take a nap. Of course, I couldn't get to sleep but I did have about 3 hours of complete peace and quiet which I needed.

So it is Wednesday now. I spent my whole morning cleaning house. It was pretty nasty. The bathrooms were gross, there toys EVERYWHERE, and the dog decided he needed to shred everyone of his chew toys. I had a lot to do this morning and I did make myself tired but it is worth it now because the house looks SO much better.

It is finally fall. It rained for two weeks straight. I was beginning to wonder if I needed to start building an ark. All the rain was worth it because now the weather is crisp and cool. The windows are open at home and the everything smells so fresh. I love fall.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24).

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Worse Part is Finally Over!

I had my final round of chemo yesterday. Yipee! I pray that I will never have to have these drugs pumped through my system again. They are not fun. Although this treatment does not seem to be bothering me as much as they did last time. I am pretty much wiped out but I haven't slept all day like I did last time. All that I have done today is go to the get the neulasta shot at the doctors office this morning. Kevin, John Derrick and I were able to stop at Chick Fil'a and get breakfast after my shot. I got home and put on some extremely comfortable clothes and sat in the recliner for the rest of the day. I played on my laptop, read a book, and napped a little. John Derrick sat in my lap alot and watched his favorite cartoons on Boomerang.

The kids will be spending the weekend with Grandmommy and Granddaddy again. This will give me a much needed day to rest without having to worry about the kids. As much as they love their daddy, whenever they want anything, they always come to me first and I always feel the need to help them. They love going to Grandmmommy and Granddaddy's house. John Derrick has been asking ALL day when he was going to leave.

A special thanks again to Margaret McPeak for driving me to my treatment yesterday. Also to Autumn Roeder for fixing a delicious dinner last night for us. Such a simple dinner but it tasted sooo good and we ate it all up. Tomorrow night, a new friend Scarlett Meadows will be bringing Kevin and I something to eat (more about her below). Lori Knox will be bringing us supper on Monday night. I am getting so spoiled with all the dinners that all my friends bring during this time.

About Scarlett, I met her at the Breast Cancer Friends meeting this past Monday night. Breast Cancer Friends is a a breast cancer support group that was started by a few ladies at the Maple Hill congregation where Kevin and I worship. This is the first meeting that I have been able to attend and the first meeting for Scarlett also. She is also a young mother with two children, ages 3 and 17 months. Her breast cancer what caught early and she had a mastectomy just three weeks ago. What made this tougher for her was that she had just moved from Kentucky just recently. We exchanged emails and have emailing each other over the past few days and she offered to bring supper over this weekend. So lets keep her in our prayers as she is also going through this difficult time.

I also want to mention my beautiful daughter Faith. She has been extremely sweet over the past few days. She has done everything that we have asked her to do without one word of complaint. She helped Kevin set the table for supper last night and cleared the dishes. She even wiped the table off with an extremly wet rag without being told. She did her homework and took a shower without complaining too much. While I was laying on the couch after supper, she offered to get me a pillow and cover me up with a blanket. She is so special and wonderful, and I love her so much.

I go back to the doctor to see Sarah, the nurse practioner in 2 weeks and will work out the details of the rest of my treatments. There a still things that I am confused about but we will work those out later. BUT the worse part is over!!!! Yipee!

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his;we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (Psalms 100)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Three down, One to go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had my third chemo treatment last Thursday, September 3. I think this was the worse one out of the three that I had. The first treatment was bad because I did not know what to expect and the exhaustion was horrible. The second treatment was very easy. I was tired a lot but nearly as bad as the first time and I did not feel the need to sleep all day. This time, I don't know what happened but have not been able to keep my eyes open for longer then 2 hours.

My chemo treatments consist of 2 nausea medicines, then one chemo drug, then a bag of fluid and then the final chemo drug and then I am done and I can go home. I take with me to my treatments, my Ipod and a book. I also have a cross stitch project that I have wanted to work on but have only worked on it one and this is the time that I worked on it. The nausea medicines were no problem but halfway through the first chemo drug, I started feeling sleepy and I knew then I was in for a long weekend. When I got done, I went home and made myself some lunch and I think I feel asleep around 3:00 and pretty much stayed asleep till the next morning. I was in and out of consciousness occasionally when one of the kids or Kevin would ask me something but I would fall right back asleep. This time I was a bit nauseated and I did not want to eat anything. I fortunately did not get sick. Friday morning, I went back in for my nuelasta shot and then after that Friday and Saturday are pretty much a blur to me.

Faith did not have school on Friday and Monday is Labor Day. My sister-in-law, Penny, came and took both Faith and John Derrick home with her to spend the weekend since mom and dad are on vacation this week. Faith of course was excited to go. John Derrick was excited at first but I didn't think we would last all weekend and he did not. He wanted to come home on Saturday morning. So Penny brought him home and Faith is still with them. Since I was so out of it on Thursday afternoon, Faith picked out her own clothes to take and I so scared of what she is going out in public in but oh well, at least she has clothes.

Thank you to Cynthia Cluck who made some delicious ham and biscuits for us to eat. Thank also to Heather Wamble who brought dinner over both Friday night and Saturday. Kevin was extremely happy with the chocolate cake on Saturday especially since sweet does not taste very well to me right now. Thank you to Margaret McPeak who has graciously driven me to my last two treatments so Kevin doesn't have to take time off from work. Thank you also to the Maple Hill Church of Christ congregation for the beautiful prayer book that you put together for me. The prayers and scriptures are inspirational and mean so much to me. I don't know what I would be able to do without all the love and support that all of you have given me.

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. (Lamentations 3: 22:25)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Various Thoughts

It is the Saturday before chemo treatment #3. Kevin is in Chicago with Faith for the weekend. He has really wanted to go to a Chicago Cubs game with the kids. He decided that a weekend in Chicago with Faith would be a special event for the two of them. John Derrick and I are staying at home. Neither of us can decide what we want to do so we are going to hang out here. We have a potluck at church tomorrow so we are going to make a few things to take to potluck.

I handled chemo # 2 very well. The fatigue was not nearly as bad the first time. It was Sunday afternoon that I started feeling the most tired and I slept a lot that Sunday and most of the day Monday. By Tuesday, I felt better but still sleepy. I had no nausea which is such a blessing and my white blood count is fine. The only lingering side effects I have is that my taste buds are still messed up and weight gain.

The weight gain is annoying. I haven't gain that much weight but I have gained a few pounds. The nurses keep telling me that it is normal for breast cancer patients to gain weight. One of the nausea medicines is a steroid which I can telling is increasing my appetite so I feel like I am hungry all the time. But my taste has been altered a bit. Mouth sores are a side effect of chemo treatments so I feel like I have burnt my tongue and the top of my mouth. There are several foods that just don't taste good right now. I get hungry and will fix something to eat only to taste it and it doesn't taste the same but I am so hungry I eat it anyway and then I am disappointed because it just isn't the same.

I met with Dr. Tierney, my plastic surgeon, yesterday. He doesn't see the need to give me anymore fills right now. I have an excess amount of skin that he can work with and I am satisfied with the size I am now. I just need to be shaped up a little and he can do that when we have the exchange surgery. I have to get done with all my chemo treatments and wait awhile before that surgery. I will go back and see him at the end of October to see where I am at with treatments and then hopefully we will be able to schedule surgery. I REALLY am ready to finish this part because these tissure expanders are the most uncomfortable things ever.

Chemo # 3 is this coming Thursday. I feel like I just had the last treatment. Even though the treatments are not bad and the fatigue is the worse side effect, I really just don't want to go in Thursday. It is just that I lose so much time getting over the treatments and I miss being me.

The last chemo treatment will happen at the end of September and I will be done with that part of treatment. Yes!!! But I will still have more treatment that I have to go through. At this time, I am confused about what I will have to do after these chemo treatments. I talked to Beth, Dr. Raefsky's research nurse, about the next step and she is fairly confident that I will just breeze through the treatments. I think I have two different options to choose from both of which will require 12 weeks of another kind of drug. One drug is required by the clinical trial I signed up for and the other is for the standard treatment for women with my stage of breast cancer. When I go in Thursday, I am going find out exactly what my options are so I can make a better decision of what I am willing to go through.

One last thought, I do really miss my hair. Having no hair has not bothered the kids really. We joke about it sometimes and John Derrick likes trying to take my hats or scarves off around the house. I still have no regrets about not getting a wig. My head gets warm just wearing the hats so I feel like a wig would be miserable. Right now, my head gets too hot when I have something on my head and if I take it off, my head gets too cold. Missing my hair is going to be a deciding factor in what treatment plan I take. If the clinical trail requires a drug that will keep my hair from growing, I don't know if I can do that. I just miss having hair but I know it will come back and it will be great.

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

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Chemo # 2

I had chemo # 2 last Thursday. It went as well as it could go. There were no problems. I got done and went home to a nice clean house thanks to Kolleen Mangrum and Melissa Simpson. John Derrick was at Cooper's house so it was nice and quiet at home. Also, I had a visit from my cousin Laura Beth on Wednesday and she brought us a delicious supper that Kevin was able to quickly warm up and serve to us.

The fatigue has not been as bad so far. I did fall asleep Thursday afternoon and early that night. Friday, I was quite alert most of the day. I did have to go get my shot to help build by white blood count. I got to the doctor's office at 3:30 and didn't get to leave till 4:30 because they were short handed. By the time I got home, I was starting to get tired. Mom and Dad came and got the kids again to take them to the lake. They will have them till Sunday evening. Kevin and I had a lovely supper brought to us by Lori Knox. After I ate, I laid down and fell asleep.

This morning, Kevin and I both slept till 9:30 and I am feeling good right now. Since the kids are not here, I can take it easy all day. So I will sit here on the couch and read, watch TV and play on my laptop. Kai and Faye Grissom brought some potato soup yesterday for us to have today so food is taken care of.

... but those who hope in then Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Things Have Been a Little Hairy This Week

Right before my first chemo treatment, I had met with Dr. Raefsky. We talked about the side effects of the treatments I would be receiving. Of course one of the main side effects would be that I would lose my hair. I asked when that would happen and he said in about 2-3 weeks. As I was leaving the exam room on Monday after getting my white blood count checked, the research nurse, Beth, told me that probably the next time I was in I would be experiencing hair loss. We talked about it for a minute. She told me that my head would get very sensitive and I would notice my hair coming out.

Up to that day, I had not lost a single hair on my head. On Tuesday afternoon, my head started itching and I started noticing one or two hairs coming out if I ran my fingers through my hair. By Wednesday, my head was tingling and more hairs were coming out and I knew it was finally happening. On Thursday morning (exactly 2 weeks since my first treatment), I was getting small handfuls of hair and when I combed my hair, lots was coming out. Friday, when I washed my hair, I was afraid I would clog the drain with as much hair that came out. I could tell that my hair was very thin. I fixed my hair and tried not touch it because every time I did, I could pull out pieces of my hair. Kevin and I were going out on date and I wanted to look like myself one last time.

Even though I had my hair cut short at the beginning of the summer, it was very annoying to have all these hairs fall out everywhere. I would hang my head over the bathroom sink just so the hair would fall in one place. I thought I would end up choking on a hairball at night with the hair that fell on my pillow. So this morning, Kevin shaved my head. When I started noticing my hair coming out, I told him that he needed to shave my head and he did exactly that.

It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. When I had first been told that I had cancer, I thought I did not want to lose my hair and I kept touching it and worrying about it. I have accepted that I was going to lose my hair. It is just part of what I have to go through. I realize now that it is going to grow back. My friends have given me so many beautiful caps and scarves that I think are so pretty. And plus, my head is shaped quite nicely.And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:30-31)

Monday, August 3, 2009

More Good News

I just received a call from Dr. Raefsky with some good news. I had decided to be tested to see if I carried the gene mutation for breast cancer and the results came back as negative for that genetic mutation. What wonderful news! This means that the female members of my family especially my daughter are not at a higher risk to develop breast cancer and that my cancer was probably not genetic.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

Follow Up Visit

Today I had to go back to the doctor to have my white blood count checked and visit with the nurse practioner. My WBC came back great and the nurse was very impressed on how well I was doing.

My next chemo treatment will be on Thursday, August 13th. Since I know what to expect, I will be ready to combat the fatigue that is going to hit me. I will get babysitters for John Derrick and have meals planned and ready so I won't have to do anything except rest.

But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. (Psalm 71:14)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Finally the Fog is Lifting

It is amazing what a little prayer can accomplish. Yesterday was a hard day. I had been fighting fatigue for five days. I was getting a little discouraged because I did not want to spend the next two months trying to keep my eyes open. I do have a family and life. But I know many specific prayers were lifted up yesterday on my behalf and God answered. I have woke up this morning feeling MUCH better!

Last night my parents came over with dinner from Cracker Barrel. I had chicken and dumplings and they were soooooo good. I did not eat any real vegetables except hashbrown casserole and macaroni and cheese but the chicken was wonderful. By the time they came over, I was starting to feel better. They ate with me and the kids and then cleaned up and helped get John Derrick ready for bed. They left around 7:00 and I had a movie going in the DVD player. I fell asleep watching the movie with John Derrick. I woke up when the movie went off and then he watched a couple more cartoons while I dozed some more and then I sent him to bed. When he finally went to sleep (thank goodness Faith just goes to her room and goes to sleep), I climbed in my bed and watched some more TV. It took me a little while to go to sleep and I woke up quit a bit all at night but when I woke up this morning to the sounds of hungry children playing in the background, I felt rested.

I probably won't try to do too much today. I think I will try to enjoy this peaceful feeling. Kevin will be home this afternoon and I know he will be glad to have a wife who is looking and feeling better. Someone is bringing supper over tonight and I look forward to that. Hopefully, I will feel good enough to go to church tonight.

So this has been a learning experience for me. I know now not to plan to do anything for at least 5-6 days after chemo. Chicken is really good. I should plan for someone to maybe come and get a child or two for a couple of hours during the day. Thank goodness school does start soon. Kevin should also plan on not leaving Monday night for work. I can do this and will do this and it will be over soon!

Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:4-5)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


It is the Tuesday after my first chemo treatment. I have never been so tired. My feel like I am in some sort of fog and just cannot seem to get out of it. I have not been sick which is a blessing but I can't seem to get going. All I want to to is just stare mindlessly at the TV and not think. The problem is that all that seems to be on right now is Spongebob Squarepants. I'm afraid if I don't start watching something with a little intelligence, I might lose all my brain cells.

So that is my complaining for now. I am just so tired. I hope this passes soon. I don't care so much about my house being clean, I worry about the kids. I am thankful Faith is old enough to understand that I don't feel good but she is going to start school soon and I want for her year to start out right. John Derrick has been good but he is only 4 and can't do all for himself. I do feel guilty about him sitting and watching TV all day but that is all I feel up to. I do think that tomorrow, I will take advantage of friends and send him out to play with his friend.

I know this will pass. Kevin is had to go to Kentucky for work and he will be back tomorrow. I will feel better soon. I only have 3 more treatments to go.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Two Days Later

It is the Saturday after my first chemo treatment. I am exhausted. I have not been sick yet. I woke up this morning a little nauseated but Kevin got up and fixed me some toast and gave me my nausea medicine. After I ate a little and took my medicine I felt better but now I am just tired. Mom and Dad took the kids to their lake house last night and will have them all day so I can have time to just rest. I am hoping by tomorrow that I get some energy back so I can be good to go by Monday.

All seems to be going well except the lack of energy. I have been able to eat but it hard to find something that I want to eat. I think I need to get Kevin to go get me some chicken noodle soup and potatoes to eat. Yesterday, I had to go back to the doctor for a shot that will help build my white blood count. The main side effects will be that I might feel achy. I have felt fine so far but if I do feel achy, I can take some Tylenol.

So I am going to try to do nothing today. I will probably get out of bed and take a shower and then move myself to the couch and watch TV all day. Hopefully by the time the kids get home this evening I will be rested or else lucky Kevin will be the one who will have to get the kids showered and to bed while I sleep.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

First Chemo is Done!

Today was my first chemo treatment. I have been very calm all week about this. I was a little scared of what it would be like but I was not in a panic. I actually had a fairly good night sleep on Wednesday night and woke up in plenty of time to get ready and have a little breakfast.

Kevin took me this morning. Faith spent the night at a friend's house and we had to drop John Derrick off at his friend's house. We got to the doctor's office five minutes late but we had to wait of course. I had to be weighed and have my blood pressure checked and a finger prick. I then met with Dr. Raefsky and he did a quick check and explained what was going to happen today. He told me that the bone scan and CT scan came back clean. They did see a tiny spot on my liver but he told me that it is probably a cyst and that they were quit common. He was not too worried about the spot and I would have another CT scan in about 6 months. After he left, a nurse came in to explain the medicines and the side effects.

I went to the treatment room after that. The treatment room is a large room filled with "recliners" I picked a recliner and waited. I had decided to have the genetic testing done to see if I carry the gene for breast cancer. The nurse took my blood for that first. Then I was hooked up to the IV. All of this was done using the port that was put in a couple of weeks ago. They first put in some anti-nausea medicine in first and then the chemo drugs. The first chemo drug the nurse nicknamed "the red devil" because it is red and pretty powerful. It could not be put in through the pump. She had to manually put it in me using a large syring. The second chemo drug was put in using the pump.

I was given plenty of medication for the nausea so hopefully I won't be too sick. I will experience fatigue and my hair will come out. The hair loss probably won't start happening for a few weeks. My white blood count will go down at times and I will have to be careful not to be around sick people. Tomorrow I have to go back and get a shot that will help my bone marrow to build itself back up. I also go back August 3rd to check my white blood count.

As I said, it was easier then I thought today. I met another lady who was getting her last chemo treatment. As we were talking, I found out that she teaches at Castle Heights Upper Elementary which is the 5th & 6th grades of the Lebanon Special School District (LSSD). Faith goes to Coles Ferry Elementary which is also part of LSSD. She had a real good attitude and looked great. We talked that last part of my treatment which made the time go by really quick. I was out of there by 1:00 and Kevin and I went out for lunch and then did a little shopping. We picked of John Derrick and came home and now I am sitting here typing this.

I am started to get a little tired right now. It is 5:30 and I think I will get up and put on my PJ's and sit here on the couch. Since Kevin and I had a late lunch, we are not too hungry. He left to go pick up a pizza for the kids to eat. Faith is back from her friend's house and she is tired a little sunburnt because she got to go swimming today. John Derrick is tired from playing so hopefully they will both go to bed without a fight.

Think you for all your prayers. I had such a peace about today because I knew prayers were being answered. But, I have one chemo treatment done and just 3 more to go!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Look Good...Feel Better

This morning I went to a program put on by the American Cancer Society called Look Good...Feel Better. This is for women going through chemo helping them to feel better but looking good. Each lady was presented with a bag full of make up for their use. All different companies donated make up and skin care products for this program. It was good make up also such as Clinque, Avon, Physicians Formula, Merle Norman and others. Here is a picture of what was in my bag
It was a really neat program and I am glad that I went. I went to the new Vanderbilt Medical Plaza at the old 100 Oaks Mall location in Nashville. This was the first time that they had done the program at this location and they were very excited to do this for us ladies. They had water and tea and cookies and they brought in lunch for us which was an unexpected surprise.

I think the sweetest thing that happened today was when a mom and her 10 year old twin daughters came in to the program. The mom had already started her chemo and had already lost all her hair. The girls were so happy to be there with their mom and you could tell that they loved her very much. As they were going through her make up, one of the girls said, "Mom you don't need any make up. You are already beautiful." That was so special and it brought tears to my eyes. I wish the best for this family.

I still can't say enough of how wonderful it is to have friends and to go to a church with a breast cancer support group. One of the ladies there today commented how wonderful it was to have other women to talk to because she had no one to talk to except the pychologist at her doctor's office. While my friends don't know what it is to experience cancer and I hope they never do, they are the main reason why I am coping through this period of my life. They have prayed for me and helped me in so many ways. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Hat Shower

God has blessed me with wonderful friends. I don't deserve such good friends but I have them and I am so thankful for these friends. None of these friends have been through breast cancer but they listen to me as I ramble on about things they haven't gone through. Sometimes I feel like I am always talking about me and what I am going through but it helps me so much to talk. My friends have given me the courage to face this. I will never know how anyone can go through cancer without having God and church family to lean on.

Danielle Gray threw me a hat shower tonight. My friends and my family gave me all sorts of turbans and scarfs and bands and bow for me to wear while I am going through chemo. Everything is so beautiful and while I don't want to lose my hair, my head is going to look good.

I don't want to wear a wig. I may change my mind but I just don't want a wig. I am a stay at home mom. I don't have a job outside my home where I need to make myself look professional so I don't feel the need to wear a wig. Plus I don't want to look like I am wearing a wig. There are so many different types of wigs and I can't afford nor do I want to spend the money to buy an expensive wig and my insurance won't pay for a wig.

Thank you everyone for my turbans and scarfs and such. They are beautiful.

Monday, July 20, 2009

An Adventure in Scanning

I learned something today. Vanilla flavored Barium Sulfate contrast drink does NOT taste good even if there is a picture of a vanilla milkshake on the the label. Today, I had a CT scan and a bone scan. For the CT scan, they gave me two rather large bottles of a contrast drink and told me to start drinking one bottle two hours before the scan and the other an hour before. I dutifully started drinking the first at 6:30 this morning. After the first sip, I knew it was not going to go down easily. At 7:30 I had not gotten a fourth of it down. I went to the imagining place and they gave me some ice to pour the drink over and that didn't help much. I even had water to chase it down with and that only helped some. I managed to get 3/4 of the FIRST bottle down when they had pity on me and told me I had enough and they could go ahead with the CT scan.

I learned something else today also. (By the way, if you don't like hearing about needles and veins, you might want to skip this paragraph) My veins did not want to cooperate with the techs. I needed an IV to inject the solution for the Bone Scan and the CT scan. The Bone Scan tech got the first shot at my veins. He had to poke me twice to get the IV in. When he got the IV in, he left it there for the CT tech. Something happened between the injection of the Bone scan stuff and the injection of the CT scan stuff because when she started the solution for the CT scan, it started burning and she had to stop and redo the IV. She could not find a vein that wanted to do right. She poked me at least 4 times and then she had to call someone else in to help her. That lady had to try twice and the vein she got to work was in my hand and it really hurt when she was putting the needle in but she got it to work and we were able to finish the scan. Fortunately, that was all the poking they needed to do for the day. They did the best they could but my arm is fairly sore from them finding the veins.

The scans were painless and quick. The doctor ordered them as a precaution and I hope nothing shows up that needs to be addressed.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Friday, July 17, 2009

Getting a Little Closer

I have less then a week till my chemo starts. I have enjoyed this week immensely even though, I have not done much of anything. The kids and I have stayed home most of the week. Thursday, we got out and went to the Discovery Center in Murfreesboro. We had a lot of fun.

Today, I had a visit with my plastic surgeon. Kevin was in Memphis for training so I asked Tammy Robertson to ride with me. We had a good time. The visit was short and since it was early in the morning, we went out for breakfast after we left. I am glad that she was able to come with me. I have been around the kids for too long and I enjoyed having some "girl talk"

On Monday, I have to go in for a CT Scan and Bone Scan. It is just precautionary. I originally scheduled to go to Summit for the scans and was going to have to be there at 7:15 in the morning. Fortunately, Summit Imaging in LEBANON called and asked if it was okay to do them in Lebanon and I said yes!!!! This will make my morning a bit easier. So let's pray that the scan don't show any other problems anywhere else in my body.

Mrs. Majorie Hoffman from church gave me a zucchini on Wednesday night. I have just finished making 12 chocolate chip zucchini muffins, 2 loafs of spiced zucchini bread, and a chocolate chip bundt zucchini cake. All from one zucchini. My house smells yummy!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Date is Set

Today I went back to the oncologist office. They wanted me to meet with the psycologist for an introduction visit. We had a nice little chat and that was about it. I am free to meet with her whenever I need to.

I also had the chance to schedule my first treatment date. I was able to talk to Dr. Raefsky's research nurse and she answered a few questions that I had about the treatment options that were presented to me. I will start my chemo on July 23. I also decided to enter the study trial that was presented to me. This means I will get 4 chemo treatments, one every 3 weeks. These will be done by October. To be part of the study, they will send my tissue from my original surgery to Milan to find out if I meet the criteria for the study. If I meet the criteria, I will be put in one of 4 different treatments. I won't know which treatment plan till they tell me.

I still have a long way to go to be over the treatment but the worse will be over by October. I was told that they have many ways to manage the side effects of chemo so while it will be bad, it shouldn't be unbearable and it is only 4 treatments and they are spread out. It will be over soon and I will have a new normal.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I Need to Find the Island

I have had a few procedures done these past two days. I just bringing myself a few steps closer to having chemo started.

Yesterday I had a port put in my body. The port is an implantable device that will be used so I won't have to have an IV each time I go in for treatment. I was completely unprepared for this procedure yesterday. No one really told me what to expect. All I was told was that I needed to get the port in like it was no big deal. I guess I should have gotten the hint when I was told that it was going to be done at the Outpatient center at Summit Medical center and I when I was told not to eat or drink after midnight. I was told to be there at 8:00 but did not know that the procedure was not going to be done till 10:00. The waiting was not too bad. I got a room and was able to watch TV. The "specialist" (that is what he called himself but I think he was some kind of nurse) came and described what they were going to do which did not sound too fun. I won't tell you because it is not for the faint hearted. I'll just say the port is in my chest and they had to use a vein from my neck to know exactly where to put it. Well, he took me away to the very cold procedure room. I was sedated instead of being put to sleep but I fell asleep anyway. I only woke up once when they were poking something in me. My head was covered so I didn't see anything. Next thing I knew, I was back in my room in order to wake up. I think the whole procedure lasted about an hour.

I woke up feeling really good. Kevin and I talked and laughed and planned on eating a late lunch together as soon as they let me go. Unfortunately, I did not have the greatest nurse that afternoon. She did her job but she just didn't seem confident about anything. She came in shortly before I was going to be released and gave me a few instructions of how to take care of the port. She told me to expect some swelling and I needed to check back with my doctor to make sure that there were no problems. She told me not to get it wet while it was healing but didn't tell me how to keep it from getting wet, she just told me that the bandages that were on there would not hold up in a shower and didn't give me any more bandages. She took my IV out and did not do a good job because it hurt. While she was talking, all the pain meds that they had given me wore off and everything started hurting at once. The bandage on my neck was pulling my skin so she changed it but wasn't too sure what she was doing and then she seemed offended that I asked for something for the pain. I was just a little annoyed because the day had been too long and I didn't feel good.

It was 4:00 when Kevin and I got home that afternoon. I had not eaten all day. Kevin went and got something while I was gone but that was around 10:00. We ordered a meal from Cracker Barrel and got the kids and went home. I got supper in bed and then I spent the rest of the evening going to sleep and waking up and then going a sleep again. I was lucky I had pain meds from my last surgery because I was really sore.

Today I had a MUGA scan done. I had looked this up on the internet and it did not sound too pleasant but it was very EASY! This was done at Centennial Heart at Summit. They took my blood, injected something in it, I had to wait about 30 minutes, then they put the blood back in me and then I laid on a table for 16 minutes while this camera took a picture of how my heart pumped. The nurses were super nice and it was almost a pleasant experience. The only strange part of the day was when I walked in the waiting room (Kevin was with me today also) and there were only older men waiting. One man commented that we looked too young to be at this doctor. I agreed with him. We got done early so Kevin and I had a late lunch at IHOP by ourselves.

Now about that island. If you watch TV, you might know what island that I am talking about. This island has some type of magical powers where people are healed from diseases and injuries. The island is from ABC's Lost. I commented about the island to Kevin because no matter how many times Sayid was beaten up, he just got up and acted like nothing happened. Ben had surgery on his spine to remove cancer and just a few days later, he was traipsing across the island. Jack had his appendix taken out on a beach and less then an hour later he was organizing a search party. I watch the show and yes I know it is TV and it is not real but I wondered how they got all the energy to walk all over the island. This summer has been a roller coaster. I had major surgery and spent 3 weeks getting over the pain and then had another surgery and spent another 2 weeks getting over the pain and just when I was feeling really good, I had this port put in and it knocked me back down. If I was on the island, I would have felt better less then a day later and I could have had a more normal summer.

I am just kidding about all that. In fact, I am feeling much better today. All of this will be over in a few months and I will be fine.

1Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Oncologist Visit and Various Other Things

First, I want to apologize of the length of this post. I got a lot of information yesterday and I like to be able to write it down and see it. Plus, I think I have the tendency to share too much information and start rambling. If you get bored, you can read what you want. I understand.

Yesterday (Wednesday, July 1st) I had my first visit with the oncologist. My oncologist is Dr. Eric Raefsky. You can read about him here. He is apparently one of the best oncologists in Tennessee. There are two ladies at church who saw him and really liked him. My dad went with me to this appointment and while sitting in the waiting room, a gentleman who knew my dad commented on how good of a doctor Dr. Raefsky is. I am quite surprised that I was able to get him as my oncologist but it is definitely nice to know that I can trust his opinions.

Here is the information about my cancer. I have Stage IIA cancer. This means that the tumor was less then 2 cm (mine was 1.5 cm) and I had 1 lymph node that had cancer. It was a high grade cancer and I tested positive for HER2 receptors and Estrogen and Progesteron receptors. To read about the stages of breast cancer, you can click here. To read about HER2 click here and to read about ER/PR click here. None is of this is great news but it is not bad news either. Knowing all this helped Dr. Raefsky plan my treatment.

He basically gave me three options of treatment. There was a lot of information that he gave me and when I got home I had to remember everything he said and make sense of it. This is what I understood from him and when I go back to finalize my treatment, I will make sure that I understood everything he told me. First, if I did absolutely nothing else, if I said, I was done, I would have a 60% chance of the cancer not coming back. Having chemo and treatments will raise that percentage and that is what I plan to do.

My first option consists of 4 chemo treatment with the drug Taxel, one done every 3 weeks. With the chemo, I would also be given Herceptin. Herceptin is given through an IV and I would get Herceptin every week for 12 weeks. So if I understood this correctly. I would get Herceptin every week and on every 3rd week, I would get the chemo drug and I would be done in 12 weeks. Dr. Raefsky told me that this was the "old school" way of treating this cancer and it has very good results.

The second option, Dr. Raefsky did not have a lot to say except that it works just as good as the first option and it is a newer way of treatment. This treatment would consist of 6 doses of 2 chemo drugs, Cytoxan Adriamycin and Taxotere Carboplatin. These would be given every 2 to 3 weeks.

The third option was to be part of a study. The study was looking at the drug Tykerb. Tykerb is an oral medication that has been around for awhile to treat women whose cancer has come back but they want to see how it works with first time cancer patients. If I took part of the study, I would be given the 4 chemo treatments of Taxel. Then I would be put into one of 4 different groups. The 4 groups are Herceptin alone, Tykerb alone or one of 2 different combinations of Herceptin and Tykerb. This treatment would last a year.

I think I will probably go with the first option. I would be done in 12 weeks and hopefully with good results. The study sounds interesting but it would last a year. I wouldn't have to go to the doctor's office to get the treatments unless I was put in the group of Herceptin only and then I would have to go once every 3 weeks for a year. I am just ready to do and get it over with.

Monday, I go to have a port put in. The Port will be used so I will not have to have an IV put in every week. Tuesday, I will have a MUGA scan done. This scans how my heart pumps. Herceptin can damage the heart (a very rare side effect but yet a side effect). They will monitor my heart so if they need to decrease the dosage, they can. Wednesday, they want me to meet with the psycologist just in case I need psychological help during the treatement. I will inform them of my decsion and will get started in the next couple of weeks.

Today, I went and saw Dr. Tierney, my plastic surgeon. These are my "fun" appointments because he is not diagnoising me with some disease. He is just making me look better. The tissue expanders that are in me now need to be filled so expand the skin and tissue and get my body ready for the implants and today was my first fill. That was a strange sensation because first I have no feeling in my breast so I didn't feel the needle that he used but it was weird to feel the saline being put in. He will be working around my chemo treatments and I don't get the implants till I am done with chemo. So we figured that we can get the implants probably in December if all goes well. What a fun Christmas present.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Very Good Day

Today has been a great day. I got good news from Dr. Lawson. There were NO cancer cells found in the lymph nodes that she removed last Thursday. That was the news that I wanted to hear. I don't know what means as far as treatment but that does mean that we caught the cancer before it started spreading too bad.

Today's appointment was almost enjoyable. Dr. Lawson was in a good mood because she had good news so we were able to chat about better things. We laughed over my drain "oops." She told me that she had tried something new on me to help the drainage issue and she was pleased that it had seemed to work even though I didn't keep the drain in too long. I don't have to go back to see her until September for a follow up.

I go to an oncologist on Wednesday, July 1st. I guess I will get an idea of what the rest of my treatment will be. I hope that the treatment will go smoothly and I will be back healthy.

I have to say that God DOES answer prayers. He is amazing and He loves us so much. Life is not easy and we will encounter many bumps along the way. God is always there and He listens to us. I would have never chosen to have cancer. When I found the lump, I prayed that it wouldn't be cancer but it was cancer. My prayers changed asking Him to help me through this. I asked for prayers from my friends and I got prayers from people all over the world. Missionaries that my father works with in Central America and as far away as Australia have been praying for me. People I have never met but who know my friends or my brothers or my parents are praying for me. These prayers have been answered. I AM fighting this cancer and so far I feel like I am winning. I still have long road ahead but whatever I am given, I know that God is there and will take care of me.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Little "Oops"

Yesterday was Sunday morning. The kids spent the night at my parents and it was just me and Kevin at home. I decided to stay at home from worship service and get a little more rest before the kids came home. Kevin left for church and I decided to go ahead and get cleaned up for the day and that is when I had my little "oops."

So, I have told you about my the drains that have been plaguing me since my first surgery. If you want to really know about the drains you can click here. At this surgery, Dr. Lawson removed both drains and gave me one back. She told Kevin that she did inserted it differently so it wouldn't drain as much and would be able to be removed earlier. So it was doing it's job and I was doing my job by emptying it twice a day.

Well on Sunday morning, I went to take a "shower". I still had a piece of gauze wrapped around the drain tube and it was taped to my skin. Now this drain is UNDER my left arm. I use the fingernails of my right hand to pick the tape off but the gauze is wrapped around the the tube. The only way to get it off is to use a pair of scissors. Common sense should have told me to wait for Kevin to come home or at least to pull the gauze down the tube so I could reach it better. Common sense did not prevail that morning. I lifted my arm and went snip. In my hand, I held the piece of gauze along with the tubing of the drain and I had a piece of tubing sticking out from under my arm.

I immediately called Kevin and he came back home. Fortunately he had just left and was not far away. He was ready to take me to the emergency room. We decided to call the doctor first. Kevin spoke to the doctor on call (I was too shocked at my own stupidity to do anything). Since I had not been draining that much fluid, the doctor told Kevin that he could just pull out the rest of the tubing and I should be okay. We thought about this for a minute. We considered going next door to see if our neighbor who is a nurse was home or I about sent Kevin to go to church and get a friend who is a surgical nurse at Baptist to do it. Kevin was brave and he said he could do it. I laid down on our bed. Kevin washed his hands and grabbed our handy dandy scissors (I had a stitch holding the tube to my skin that he had to cut first). He snipped and pulled. It really didn't hurt too much but I was just so mad at myself that I cried. But it was over in just a second and now I am drain free.

I spoke to Dr. Lawson's nurse this morning and she seems to think I should be okay. I just need to make sure that I don't get a lot of swelling. If it starts to swell too much, I will need to go in and get the fluid drained. I am not too concerned. I am thankful that I know several nurses and my friend who is the surgical nurse has already told me that she would look at it and let me know if I need to see the doctor.

I made my appointment to go back to see Dr. Lawson on Friday, June 26. She will check my incisions and will give the results of the surgery. Pray that there was no more cancer in the lymph nodes so my treatment plan will be easier.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Yesterday's Surgery

Yesterday (June 18th), I had additional surgery to remove more lymph nodes from my left side. On my original surgery, May 28, they removed the sentinel lymph node and first glance showed no cancer. The final pathology report came back with 2 small specks of cancer so Dr. Lawson wanted to remove more lymph nodes to see if any cancer had spread. If they find cancer in these lymph nodes, I will probably have to have radiation treatments.

This surgery was a simpler surgery. According to Dr. Lawson everything went well. I was given the choice to stay a night in the hospital or go home that day. I chose to go home. I think Kevin regretted that decision later. I had a hard time getting over the anesthesia this time. I spent 2 hours after the surgery trying to wake up. When I finally was alert enough (which wasn't very alert), they brought Kevin in to help get me dressed and got me out of the hospital. I slept the whole way home, walked in the house and made it to the couch were I slept off and on the rest of the afternoon and evening. The anesthesia also made me nauseous this time and Kevin had to call the doctor to call me in some nausea medicine. I did get a decent night sleep, and I woke up this morning feeling much better and alert. The kids spent the night at my parent's house Wednesday and Thursday night. Tammy Robertson took the kids today and they are going back to spend the rest of the weekend with my parents, so I get a nice quiet weekend to recuperate.

I go back to see Dr. Lawson sometime next week. She removed both drains left from my last surgery but added another drain. She said that she did something different so it will not drain as much. When I am ready to have this drain removed is when I call to make the appointment.

On a funny note, I am not pregnant. I was told that three times yesterday. It's funny because, that was the last thing I was worried about especially since Kevin took care of that about four years ago.

Thanks for continuing to pray for me. I will see an oncologist on July 1st and will get my treatment plans.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Quick Update

Right now it is Saturday morning. We are being lazy and watching cartoons. Yesterday my mother-in-law went back home to Baton Rouge and I am excited about getting back to "normal"

I saw the plastic surgeon yesterday morning. I was hoping he would remove the last two drains that I have stuck on me because I really want to be able to just take a shower and dress in my regular clothes without having to disguise the two giant lumps attached to me. Unfortunately, I still have quite a bit of fluid draining so he felt like I needed to keep them for another week. He was afraid that if he took them out and I got fluid built up, they would have to go back and put them back in. I do agree that does not sound pleasant at all. So I will keep them till Thursday when I have to go back to surgery. While I am under, they can remove both but the left side will be replaced with another one for this surgery. So it looks like I will spend most of my summer wearing baggy clothing.

I go back to the plastic surgeon in 3 weeks and I think he is going to start "filling me up." These tissue expanders are not comfortable. I fill like I have rocks tightly strapped to my chest but it just part of the process. I shouldn't complain because I at least have this opportunity to get my body looking back to normal and I know it will all be worth it in the end.

I also got a call from an oncologist yesterday. I have an appointment to meet with him on July 1st. The lady on the phone gave me his name but I didn't ask how to spell the name so I can't tell you who it is. I do know he is part of Tennessee Oncology and he is located at Summit Hospital in Hermitage. I will let you know more about him after I meet him.

So yesterday was not my best day. I was disappointed about not getting my drains out so that was a real bummer. The call from the oncology office made chemo seem so real. I ended up with a bad tension headache and I just could not do anything except lay around. Kevin was home most of the day but he had to leave for a couple of hours. I was quite miserable but at least the kids were quiet even though they just watched TV all day. So today is going to be better. I am going to get up and take a shower and get my house back in order. Faith has a friend coming over to play with her and John Derrick is going to annoy them. Life is good.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Prayer Request for my Cousin, Laura Beth's Daughter, Carolina

Please keep my cousin Laura Beth's little girl, Carolina in your prayers. She is being treated for Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) which is a bleeding condition in which the blood doesn’t clot as it should.

You can read about Carolina on Laura Beth's Blog, high on life

Monday, June 8, 2009

Surgery Date

June 18th is the date set for the surgery on my lymph nodes. Thanks for keeping me in your prayers.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Bit of a Setback

My doctor called me today with the results of my final pathology results. It wasn't the best news but it is what it is and we have to take it one step at a time.

The right side where there was no cancer was perfectly fine. No cancer in the breast and no cancer in the lymph nodes. The cancer on the left side was a smaller then they thought. It was 1 1/2 cm and all the margins were clean and it did not appear attached to anything. The sentinel lymph node that they took out first was a little larger then normal. At first glance in the operating room, there appeared no cancer cells. As they did a little more investigating, there were 2 specks of cancer in the lymph node. The largest was 1 1/2 mm (not cm, but millimeters).

Dr. Lawson wants to go back in and take a few more lymph nodes out and test them. She wants to do this to plan my treatment better. She told me that I might benefit with having radiation done on my chest wall. This will probably guarantee that I will have to have chemotherapy. By doing this, I can lower my chance of the cancer coming back in the remaining tissue.

I will have to have surgery again but this time, I will do it as an outpatient surgery so I can get home quicker. I don't know what the date will be but I will let post it when I find out. I have found that this is annoying. It definitely is not what I wanted it to be but cancer is not simple and I knew that from the beginning.

Right now, I want to back to some type of normal. I miss spending time with my kids and doing for them. I miss sleeping comfortably on my bed and I miss Kevin sleeping beside me. I miss fixing dinner at night (but don't get me wrong, I LOVE having meals ready to fix.) I really miss taking a long hot shower. Right now I am just whining and after a good night's rest, I will feel better.

This is just another step that I have to take to get back to being myself. I am will do this and get it done and fight my way back to healthy. Thank you for all your prayers and keep praying.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Pink Ladies

I didn't get a chance to post these pictures before my surgery. Above are some of the ladies at Maple Hill Church of Christ who wore pink for my support.

These are the ladies who bought pink hair extensions to wear in their hair.

A special Thanks to Danielle Pruitt who put a list together of prayers for me throughout the day of the surgery. She had people sign up for every 15 minutes from 7:00 in the morning to 7:00 in the evening. Each person stopped what they were doing and prayed for me. How amazing are these friends of mine.

I will never be able to do half of what they have done for me. Everyone has been so kind and I thank my God for every thing that they have done for me.

3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy (Philippians 1:3-4)

Saturday, May 30, 2009


It is the Saturday after my surgery and I am finally home after a two night stay at the hospital. I doing well. I am still sore. I feel like I have bricks on my chest. It is very difficult to get comfortable because lying on my side is hard because of my drains. Thank goodness for pain medicines.

Thursday morning, we arrived at the hospital at 5:00 in the morning. We waited for about 30 minutes and then we were sent to the Surgery Waiting room. We waited another 30 minutes and then I was taken back to start getting ready for surgery. They gave me a Valium and that was very nice to have. I had to go down to radiology so they could inject a the radioactive dye for the Sentinal Node testing. I had to wait there for over an hour because they did not have my films from my mammogram. I was there by myself with a room full of magazines from 2007. It was freezing in that waiting room and the nurse told me that she would leave me there because it was warmer there then the room that I was going have the procedure done. She was right because when I got there, I was shivering. The dye was horrible. The injection was not the problem, it was the dye itself. It stung and made me pass out.

After that, they took me back upstairs for surgery. I got to spend a few minutes with Kevin, my parents and my brother. Daddy prayed and then they left. They knocked me out and the next thing I knew I was waking up. I seriously did not think, we had gone but they told me that I was done and everything had gone smoothly. That is such a strange feeling. One second I went to sleep and three hours later, I was awake and did not feel a thing.

They wheeled me to a room where my family was. Kevin was all smiles because there were NO LYMPH NODES involved and they felt like they got all the cancer out. That was the news that I wanted to hear. I pretty much slept the rest of the day. I know Marty, my older brother came by and I was asleep. Anita Keith and Tammy Robertson came along with my mother-in-law and I was asleep. I was given morphine through my IV line that night and sometime before morning, I started taking pain pills and was able to get out of bed to go to the bathroom.

Kevin was absolutely was the best husband in the world. He slept on the uncomfortable cot in the room beside me and everytime I need help moving. He was right there. I really can't express in words what he has done for me and how patient he has been through this whole process.

I decided, I wanted to stay one more night in the hospital till I got pain more under controlled and I was able to understand everything I needed to do to take care of myself at home. My dad came by that morning and brought Faith with him. John Derrick had gotten sick that morning so he stayed at home. I was so happy to see Faith and she seemed so relieved to see me. She was all smiles and she looked beautiful. she stayed for a little while and Kevin took her home while my dad stayed with me while I pretty much slept.

I had several visitors on Friday. Thank you to Stuart Simpson, Jamie Nicholson, Danielle Pruitt, Kolleen Mangrum, Tammy Robertson and her boys and Wayne Miller for coming by. I was still half awake but it was nice that they took time out of their day to visit.

That night Anita Keith came and stayed with me so Kevin could sleep at home in his bed. She was wonderful. She kept me up for a while (and if you know Anita, you know that she has gift for conversation) She brought me fruit and a milkshake which was good because I had no appetite all day. She slept on the hard cot next to me and helped me if I needed any help. She stayed Saturday till Kevin was able to get back. She even washed my hair for me. The nurse gave us a hair washing cap. The cap was warmed and put on my head and Anita massaged it and it washed and conditioned and rinse my hair. Although not perfect, it made my head feel a lot better.

I was able to leave about 1:00 this afternoon. It was a long sleepy ride home. The kids have been at my parents celebrating Josie's 1st birthday. They are still there. I miss them but this has given me some quiet time at home to get somewhat comfortable.

So right now, I am just uncomfortable. I was finally able to eat something so I am not hungry. The drains under my arm itch really bad and I can not take a real shower until they come out sometime next week.

I will say one last thing. Prayer is such a powerful thing. I know God answers prayers and He has answered all the prayers that were lifted on my behalf. I still cannot express in words how amazing God is. Without God, I could not have done this and I hope that I can others understand how powerful God is so can have the peace that comes from him. I still have a few more things that I will have to go through and I will have to be conscience about my body because the cancer can come back but God has answered our prayers.

13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him (1 John 5:13-15)

P.S. I hope everyone will excuse my grammatical mistakes. I am just typing what I am thinking and I hope this all makes sense to you.
Thank you

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Our Night Together

The wonderful ladies at Maple Hill's Mother Day Out Program along with the parents of my precious two year olds put together a special night for me and Kevin to enjoy before my surgery this Thursday. We were able to go to Evins Mill Bed and Breakfast in Smithville, TN.

We enjoyed 2 one hours massages when we got there. After the massages, we enjoyed a hors d'oeuvres, followed by a gourmet four-course meal. We had access to the full 40 acres along with the game room in the grist mill. The place was absolutely beautiful. Since it was the middle of the week, we were the only bed and breakfast couple there at the time we got the most wonderful individual attention. (there was some company there on a retreat but they had to spend their time looking at power points presentations) We didn't go hiking to the waterfall because we didn't bring tennis shoes. We did get to enjoy just a quiet time by ourselves. We enjoyed the game room and looking at the beautiful scenary around the mill. The most special part was that Kevin and I got to be together by ourselves and talk and love each other.

Tomorrow is my surgery. I have gone through every emotion possible from being at complete peace to near panic. I am so thankful that I have so many friends who are praying for me. I don't understand how anyone can go through any surgery or illness without God in her life. I know that without God, my life would be a complete mess and would not be able to handle any of these hurdles.

A special thanks to Sandy Hubbard. She is a nurse at Baptist Hospital and although she does not work in the same area that I will be in, she has checked to make sure that I have the best doctors and made sure that those who are taking care of me give me the best possible care.

Also, thank you to Jenny Leech and Tammy Robertson for taking my kids tomorrow so they can have a fun filled day with their friends and will not be sitting at home worrying about me.


13Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective James 5:13-15

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Party, New Hair, and the Beach!

It is getting closer to May 28th. I will freely admit that I am getting anxious, and I just don't want to go through the surgery. I wish this had not happened. I have so many people praying for me right now that I know I can do this, and I know God has something in store for me.

On Monday night, my friends from the Maple Hill Church of Christ had a "farewell" party. We said bye-bye to the cancer and welcome to my new body that I will be getting. Tammy Robertson and Heather Wamble organized the party. Tammy grilled hamburgers and chicken and Heather made a lovely cake. Everyone else brought all the extras and we had a great time. I want to thank all my friends who showed up and those who were not able to make it because of babysitter issues. Thank you to Rachel Gray, Danielle Gray, Amanda McNabb, Amanda Denning, Melissa Simpson, Kolleen Mangrum, Sarah Scoles, Anita Keith, Autumn Roeder, Danielle Pruitt, and Nicole Brashear for coming and having a good laugh. Forgive me if I left out a name.

I also decided to go ahead and get my hair cut before surgery. I decided that I wanted something that didn't take a lot of effort and would look good if I just washed it and went on my way. Since I will be having chemo and had a good chance of losing my hair, I thought it would make it easier on me and my family if I didn't have big long hunks of hair falling out. In planning my haircut, my friends talked me into coloring my hair. So I had it dyed back to blonde and added pink. Tammy Robertson and Danielle Gray came with me and they also dyed their hair pink. Tammy did a strip on the side and Danielle had the whole underside of her hair dyed pink and my hair was CHOPPED off and I had the pink added to the front.
Several others wanted to dye their hair pink but in order to have pink in your hair, you have to BLEACH a spot first so the pink will show up. The pink will wash out but the bleached spot is there until it grows out or you color it. So for those not brave enough to bleach their hair, they got pink hair extensions. I got one for Faith to wear also.
A big THANK YOU To Stephanie at Identity Hair Salon in Hermitage for doing our hair. She was awesome and a lot of fun. She did not charge us for all the work that she did. She said it was her donation to Breast Cancer Awareness. She will have a new client once my hair comes back in.

Finally, we are leaving to go to Fort Walton Beach this Friday. We have a condo on the beach waiting for us. We will be there Friday through Monday just to relax and have our vacation now. We are very excited and ready to go (well, except I still need to pack)

Please keep praying for me. Like I said, I am starting to get anxious and worried. I am ready for this to be over with so I can keep living my life and watch my children grow.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Surgery Info

My surgery is scheduled on Thursday, May 28 at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, TN. The surgery starts at 9:00 in the morning. At 7:00, I will have a dye injected to see if the lymph nodes are involved. I get to be at the hospital at the early hour at 5:00 a.m. (yuck). I don't know how long I will be at the hospital.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Romans 15:13

When I was setting up this blog, I wanted to put a verse from the Bible as the description. When I first found the lump, I was extremely scared. All the waiting that I had to do did not help much. I was a nervous wreck just waiting. I told myself to get over it, and I turned to God's Word for help. I wanted to find peace and remind myself that God would give me peace. So I found Philippians 4:6-7,

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

I clung to that verse, praying that God would just take care of me and give me PEACE! I didn't know what I was going to have go through, but I wanted peace. I found that peace and I calmed down. I was still scared, but I knew that God was giving me peace.

Back to setting up this blog. I was filling in all the different areas, and I came to the blog description. I got my Bible so I could type Philippians 4: 6-7 in correctly and my Bible opened up to Romans 15:13. The verse is one of several verses highlighted on that page. I really like the book of Romans because there are so many verses that Christians need to remember. But that verse is the one that caught my attention and I knew that was the verse I needed for strength during this time.

God does give hope and I trust him to take care of me and my family. He is giving me peace to handle this time in my life. He is giving me joy by giving me such wonderful friends and strangers who are praying for me. I want to overflow with hope so other women who are facing this same disease can have some of mine.

It is May 1st. I turn another year older on May 13th. In 28 days, I will have my surgery and the start of my journey to heal my body.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Beginning

On Monday, April 13, I found a lump. That has to be every woman's fear, and I found one. I wasn't doing a self examine. I just happen to find it. I wasn't sure what to do. I had a doctor's appointment in a couple of weeks so I thought I would wait but a friend told me to go ahead and call and have it checked out. I made an appointment and my doctor felt it and told me to get a mammogram. I had the mammogram and the radiologist didn't like the look of it. I got an appointment with a breast specialist and she didn't like the look of it and I had a biopsy done. The results came in on Monday April 27 that the lump was cancer.

I have had A LOT of information given to me and I am still trying to sort it all out. I was told I had the most common type of cancer which was Infiltrating Mammo Carcinoma. Which I can't find that term on any website but I think that is means the same as Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.
The doctor seemed confident that it is treatable and curable but I have to take the long road to get there.

I have decided that I will have a bi lateral mastectomy. It sounds very extreme to do this but this surgery will greatly lower my chances of the cancer coming back. I do NOT want to have to go through this again.
Prayer requests:

1. Pray for Kevin because he has been so wonderful. I think God is letting me know that Kevin is that great of a person.

2. Pray for Faith and John Derrick so they understand there will be some changes going on but mommy still loves them.

3. Pray for other women who are finding a lump and are about to start this same process I am going through. Pray that the lump will be benign but if it is not, please pray for their peace.

The next part I am going to write is a bit intimate about my body so you can skip the rest if you don't want too much information but if you are curious read on.

I have never liked my breasts. I developed early and they have been a pain so I am not that sad to lose them. Since having children they have grown to a DD and my back hurts and I can't run and I don't look good in clothes.I met with a plastic surgeon on Wednesday to discuss my reconstruction options. I will have silicon implants put in (which I find a bit ironic because I have always laughed at women who wanted implants). They will start by putting in extenders to build up my muscles. They will slowly fill them throughout several weeks and when I get to the size I want and I am comfortable, they will be exchanged for the implants. This is the only part of the whole process that is interesting to me because I will have a new body. I may change my mind after going through everything but I will be smaller and hopefully more comfortable.