Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Scan and Update


 Chemo #13

We talked to Dr. Saylors about my scan today! All my tumors, nodules, everything has continued to decrease in size. Some of them are too small to even be measured! The tumors on my liver were measuring 4 cm. They are now around 1 cm! My lymph nodes were the size of ping pong balls and are now the size of lima beans.  Praise God!

We have come to the point where the harm from chemo outweighs the benefit. I am so very tired and I'm tired all the time.  I want to feel good again.  I will finish this cycle (a cycle for me is carboplatin + taxol one week, taxol only the next week, then a week off) and maybe one more cycle. Then I will stop chemo.  I will be checked regularly and I will go back on the chemo if the tumors grow.

I am happy with this decision. Yes, I still have cancer.  But I am alive, and I will live on!  This is not to say that God will not take this cancer from my body this instant!  I still believe God will heal me. My idea of a miracle was that the tumors would disappear, but THIS is a miracle too.  I will elaborate on this in a future blog, there is a lot I'd like to say this subject.  My most fervent prayer was that I would watch my children grow up, and I will!  I am thankful!  I will continue to walk by faith; even more so while I am not taking treatment.  God is so good!  My Father truly has his hands over me.  He is my shield, my anchor, my refuge.  He is everything!  Though I am weak, I lean into His strength and His grace and I am whole.  I am swaddled in His love!

 Thank you all for your prayers and support!!  By His stripes, I am healed.

Monday, May 18, 2015

This Too Shall Pass

When I began chemotherapy in January, it hit me hard. I was sick. My body was still weakened from the effects of cancer. However, I got stronger. It happened quickly and it was amazing. All my pain, my fatigue, everything just seemed to disappear. Although I was on chemo, I felt better than I had in months. I honestly did not mind getting treatments. I was just so thankful to not feel the way I did before. I actually felt like myself again. Sure, I was out for a couple of days after treatment, but once I got over it, I was able to do whatever I wanted to do. I felt completely normal. There was no stopping me.

But now I'm not "bouncing back" the way I used to. Chemo puts me out for about 3 days, and then...I'm still weak. I tire easily even on my week off from chemo. My inner child is pouting and shouting, "I want to play!" I don't even look like myself anymore. I look worn. I feel worn.

This too shall pass. I will try to be patient. God is strong FOR me. Soon, there will be no more treatments. Soon, I will be strong. I used to run every day. Oh how I loved to run. Soon, I'll be back on my feet. When Taylor asks me to play tag, my answer will be YES.  Soon.

When life gets you down, carry on, carry on! It is easy to get down when you aren't feeling well. Especially when you feel bad every day. Focus on the positive. Focus on your progress. If you're not making progress right now, focus on your goals. Remember that you are not alone, God is right there, in the good times and the bad. You are precious to Him, and he is cradling you like a newborn babe. Get alone with God; have a conversation. When you open yourself up completely to let Him take control, the battle is not yours anymore.  He will fight it for you.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Awareness For The Unknown

Tonight I want to raise a little awareness for people like me with an unknown primary cancer.  Not knowing what kind of cancer you have can be scary.  I know, having cancer is scary enough, period.  How do you know you’re receiving the right treatment?  Will you ever find out what kind of cancer you have?  Would it make a difference?  Could it save your life?  I’ll use myself as an example.  I have widely metastatic cancer.  This means the cancer is in multiple organs in multiple places.  My cancer is in my liver, lungs, and throughout my lymph nodes.  But it is not lung cancer and it is not liver cancer and it is not lymphoma.  My cancer is CUP, Carcinoma of unknown primary, because my original tumor has not been found.  They can tell that it is aggressive, but not where it started.

I believe I am getting the best care possible in this situation.  My oncologist is very wise.  She has me on two types of chemo:  carboplatin and taxol.  Together, these have a “blast effect,” since we don’t have a specific type of cancer to target.  This chemo attacks everything.  As you can see, it’s working wonderfully!  I chose not to fear the “unknown.”  I feel like God has even more room to work in the mystery.  I am very curious though, and would like to know what kind of cancer it is.  The lymph node that was removed for my original biopsy is still being studied.  So maybe one day.  If you find yourself in this situation, know you are not alone.  This happens sometimes and it does not doom you.  There is always hope!

God already knows what kind of cancer it is, and he is doing work.  He knew this before I was even born.  When we completely put our trust in Him, there are no limits to what He can do.

Proverbs 3:5-8
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; 
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Reflection

I’ve been asked a few times, what went through my mind when I got my diagnosis. That may seem like a simple question, but it is actually very hard to answer. It was like one big thought, broken up into many layers. What stayed up front and center, were the beautiful faces of my children. Behind that, the numbers; how old they would be when I died. Behind that, the events I would miss. And behind that, a memory of Taylor saying her bedtime prayers. I ask her what she is thankful for and one thing that made her happy that day. Her answer is always the same, “You Mommy!” This is the hardest layer to deal with. Taylor loves SO big. It doesn’t matter how much I’ve fussed that day, or if I wasn’t any fun. I’m still her number one. The thought of her grief was more than I could bear. When I got that news, and saw my life laid out before me with not much time left in it, the little things suddenly became the big things. The hard times suddenly became insignificant. Those times weren’t hard. This was hard.

So now, as I’m waiting on my upcoming scan, I find myself often reflecting. I don’t ever want to sink back into that hole I was living in. I don’t ever want to forget how valuable these precious little moments are and how absolutely blessed I am to be here. This scan is going to be a really big deal, and I'm already planning how I'm going to celebrate. This is going to be it, no more cancer. Could I be so blessed? Blessed enough that my journey with this disease would end so quickly? After all, it’s only been 4 months. Yes! I most certainly could be. Like I've said over and over in this blog, nothing is too big for my God!

These are some moments I won’t ever forget. I’m sharing them with you, because I want you to thank God every day for the little things in your life, because they are the big things.

First, the love my family and I have received from my community and, thanks to this blog, people all over the world. The fear in my daughter’s eyes as I explained to her why Mommy has been so sick. Then quickly telling her that this cancer won’t kill me, while silently begging God to let that be the truth. When my husband went with me to my first treatment, even though he had not been to sleep since working the night before. He was so jacked up on coffee, I couldn't dwell on the fact that this was the day I was starting chemo…because he would not be quiet, haha. Night after night of my Daddy sitting on the stairs when I would come out of the bathroom from being sick. He knew there was nothing he could do. He just wanted to be there for me. Both my parents peeking in on me when they thought I was sleeping, just checking to make sure I was ok. My husband refusing to go to sleep until I fell asleep, one awful morning when I was in so much pain. How excited my uncle was to walk into the house and see me sitting upright on the couch. Things started looking up at this point. How my Granny couldn't sleep unless she saw me that day. My brother going with me to treatment and then a blood transfusion immediately following. That was 6 hours of me sitting in a chair! The joy my parents showed while I ate that chick filet sandwich, the first meal I had eaten in weeks.

There are 100’s more, but you get the point. We are blessed! Even when things are bad, we are blessed.

A Tribute To My Mom

In honor of Mother's day, I want to share with you how amazing my Mama is. She's been amazing all my life, but this last year has been the toughest, and she has been my rock. July of last year I was REALLY pregnant and I was really tired. I would get so upset because my house was a wreck and I just couldn't keep up.  I always feel better when my house is clean. There were many days when I would come home from work to a spotless house, because Mama had been over to clean all day. This was a really big deal! I would feel pure relief when I walked in the door, and you just can't put a price on that.

Next, the real challenge: facing the fact that her little girl (even if I am grown) has stage IV cancer and has been given no hope for survival. If you would have seen my Mama when we got that news, it would have broken your heart. She has taken such good care of me, not only as a child, but as a patient. When things were bad, she helped me into the shower, combed and dried my hair, cleaned the toilet every time I got sick so at least I had a clean toilet to hang my head over. She fed my family, washed our clothes, took care of my children, anything she could think of to make life easier for me. She lifted my load and added it to her own. She stayed so strong for me. I remember one day I was very weak from not eating/etc and I was in so much pain. Daddy was trying to convince me to let him take me to the hospital for fluids because I was obviously dehydrated, and he wanted me to get pain meds through IV so I could have a little break. I didn't want to go to the hospital. I have a bad habit of brushing off everything that's wrong with me. If I'm not feeling well and I talk to you, you won't know it because I'm going to grin like an idiot and tell you I'm good. I only complain to my husband lol. Anyway I was sitting there, trying to make a decision and all of a sudden I couldn't hold it in anymore, I just burst into tears. Mama started praying and crying right along with me. When I hurt, she hurts. When I couldn't eat, she couldn't eat. She allows me to get the rest I need to get better. She never complained the first time. She is selfless and caring and a beautiful human being on the inside and out.

I love you Mama, you are my hero. I'll never question my ability to be a great Mom, because I've learned from the best.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Do Not Live In Fear

When I started this fight my sole purpose for survival was to be here for my family. After speaking to many other cancer patients and survivors over time, it has become so much more than that. I want to be an example. I want to be for someone else, what so many are to me. I'll explain. When I was first diagnosed, I felt absolutely hopeless. It could have very well drove me crazy, the thought that this disease was going to kill me in such a short time. Just knowing "what" was going to kill me was enough to make me miserable. I was not the least bit positive. I was terrified. I hope I never forget what that feels like, because I realize how incredibly blessed I am to have HOPE. Just to be able to let go of that fear, to let go of that dispair, is a miracle in itself; a precious gift from God. Not everyone can let it go, which is totally understandable. Saying that it's hard, is the understatement of the century. It can very easily take over every aspect of your life, every thought. My heart breaks for you, if you are living in fear. But if I can give even a glimmer of hope to you, my friend, it is such a blessing to me. It gives me so much purpose. I've had so many survivors share their testimony with me, and each time I thought..."Wow, if God saved them from THAT, surely He can save me too." Sometimes, that hateful little voice was there whispering, "but your liver"..."6 months"..."not curable"..."it's not the same." Let me tell you! The devil is a LIAR. He wants to see you cower in fear! But GOD is BIGGER. Bring your fear, bring your despair, and lay it down before your Father. You don't have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Jesus carried it for you on the cross, and by His wounds we are HEALED.