Tuesday, April 21, 2015

There are tough days

Typically when you get the flu it hits you without warning.  You gut it out for 2-3 days and miraculously you feel better after a lot of sleep and plenty of fluids.  I distinctly remember the doctor saying at my first treatment that it will feel like I have the flu for the next 9 months to a year.  I completely understood what he said at the time but never really comprehended it until treatment began. 

 My second round of chemo was definitely worse than the first…let’s hope this is not a sign of things to come.  The nausea set it on day 3 and I am really struggling with balancing diarrhea and severe constipation.  I ended up in the emergency room again last Sunday morning just begging for some relief.  Anyone who struggles with constipation, I can totally feel your pain.  I am on every drug ever made to relieve this but for some reason chemo seems to be trumping them all.  Please pray that I can find a better balance this round.   

After nearly 10 days of not feeling well, the last 3 have been filled with bursts of energy to get things done before the next round.  Laundry, errands, catching up on reading the latest school news (I apologize to Mrs. Kiel and Mrs. Corey for not meeting deadlines) all have to be done in 3 days before the dreaded ‘chemo flu’ strikes again tomorrow night.   

Even through all of the pain and discomfort I am trying my hardest to stay as positive as I can.  I still have the mom guilt of not being able to jump up and help with homework, packing lunches or just being present for daily chats but Kyle and the girls are faring well in spite of it all.

We are still relying heavily on family, friends and neighbors for meals which have been an absolute blessing.  If you know someone who is ill please provide a meal!  As busy moms we all know that the daily ‘what in the world am I going to do for dinner’ can be one of the most stressful parts of your day.  I have such a sense of relief that my family is being fed.  While I may not feel like eating, I have heard from my family that all of the meals have been wonderful.  I will learn from this and make sure I provide meals to those in need once I am done with treatment.

While I am finding my diagnosis as both a blessing and a curse all at the same time, I have been able to witness such beautiful kindness.  My army continues to support me and for that I am so grateful. 

Tomorrow begins treatment number 3 and I will be going down for the count for the next week or so.  Please continue to keep me and my family in your prayers. 

God IS Good!
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  ISAIAH 41:10

Friday, April 17, 2015


It didn’t take long to recognize that during a chemo treatment at the Cancer Center that there are all types battling this disease.  The completely bald eighty year old man sitting in the waiting room holding his wife’s hand, the fifty something year old woman who sits next to me alone reading quietly during her drip, the twenty year old ‘boy’ across from me who just sits and stares at the TV and avoids contact at all costs.  Everyone has their own personal battle but I found that just sitting there for 5 hours at a time being completely somber was not really my cup of tea.  This should be a happy place….we are all getting the drugs we need to kill this assassin in our body.  Second round of chemo I would ask for a private room and invite friends!

My first choice of friends was an easy one.  Liz, Katherine and I have been friends for going on 20 years.  These are the ladies I would place my first phone call to if I were in a foreign country and wound up in jail.  They are strong, courageous and above all have amazing grace!

Many years ago, Liz lost her husband Todd and unborn son in an auto accident very shortly after their wedding.  I remember, like it was yesterday, rushing to Sparrow Hospital to be by her side and agonizing with her as she made the horrible decision to remove the love her life from life support.  Liz is one of those people I need in my life as a constant reminder of strength and courage.
Katherine is my parallel life friend.  We would meet our future spouse’s the same year, marry them the same year and would carry our first born children with due dates just five days apart.  I would go on to have Logan 13 months after the birth of Reese (oops!) but Katherine struggled a bit.  She would eventually be blessed with the news that she was pregnant with triplets!  We had no idea what a struggle this pregnancy would be for her.  Unfortunately all three of her beautiful boys would not make it and she would have to deliver them all stillborn.  Katherine and our friend Maureen would go on to make sure that no parent of a stillborn child would have to rely on the hospital’s group committal or bear the expense of a funeral service. Insert plug for the upcoming annual golf outing fundraiser for this endowment….www.ladiesteeparty.com.  I need Katherine in my life for her never give up attitude.

You can now see why these ladies were my first choice.  We sat in that private room and laughed and enjoyed every minute of just being together.  The nurse later told me how refreshing it was to have laughter in that place.  In fact, all the other nurses were jealous of her that day because she had ‘us’ as her patient.  I am certain that my new approach to chemo will radically change my outcome. 

Kids, choose your friends wisely!  You never know when you are going to need them by your side. 

God IS Good!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why me?

I was born a ‘glass half full’ type of girl.  I am not one to let things get too under my skin and have an uncanny ability to find the positive in almost anything.  I have wondered if that would change ever since I received my diagnosis. I have had some pretty painful, dark days the last month.  Heck, I was afraid to have blood drawn prior to this.  Blood draws now, a piece of cake!   

I feel like I was given a choice in this matter.  I can endure the pain of this horrible disease and watch the beautiful blessings come from it OR I can rollover and let it win.  Based on my track record in life, I am choosing to endure!  You can’t even imagine the outpouring of love and support I have witnessed in the last month.  Cards received have to be well over 100, gifts in the mail (not sure who is sending the ongoing charm bracelet….thank you!), meals galore, a neighborhood sprinkled with blue ribbons on mailboxes in support, 20,000+ blog readers now reaching Canada and Europe, and an Army of family and friends that I feel closer to now more than ever.    

I see my kids and husband differently now.  Their smiles are brighter; the sound of laughing in our house brings such joy.  I used to be annoyed by the daily grind of homework with the girls; I am honored now to watch them learn daily.  Kyle has shown such a sense of confidence and just seems to know when I just need a good hug that lasts for minutes.   

As many of you know I have twin brothers, Tony and Todd who will be 45 in June.  Every doctor I met with early on said they need to get in for colonoscopies ASAP because it looks like my form of Colon Cancer is quite hereditary.  Todd is on spring break in Florida but has already contacted his Doctor for a referral the minute he gets home…right Todd?  Tony on the other hand had his last week Tuesday.  It was one of my worst days with nausea and vomiting but I just couldn’t wait for that call from him to say he was ‘all clear.’  Dr. Hamby found 3 polyps, all removed successfully.  1 unfortunately was pre-cancerous and quite large.  He will now need a colonoscopy every 3 years going forward, sorry Tony!  But, I would consider this as me saving your life so you can feel free to repay me in any form that you wish.  By the way, my birthday is October 16th, just in case you forgot.   

Why me?  Why not me?  It has been an amazing ride so far and I am willing to endure so that I can continue to allow those closest an opportunity to bless our family.  I often imagine Jesus suffering on the cross and what He must have endured in those last days in order to bring me eternal salvation.  I am not comparing my suffering to Jesus by any means, but I do know I am willing to suffer so others can realize their many blessings and hopefully one day have eternal life with me…heck, who doesn’t want to hang with me in the afterlife!  

I can honestly say that my glass is still very much ‘half full’ and I am committed to keeping it that way!

God IS good!

Philippians 4:13 … open your Bible and look it up : )

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Day 6 after chemo….

After leaving chemo treatment last Wednesday I felt pretty good.  I did understand that part of my chemo regimen was a full bag of anti-nausea so feeling well was to be expected.  Days 2, 3 and 4 I figured would probably be my worst (based on what I had read) so after day 4 I thought, I can manage this!  Yes, I had nausea and slept a lot but it was manageable. I even called my short term disability administrator and asked if I could maybe work part time (unfortunately not.)  My parents went home because I was doing so well; I coached my Little League AA softball team (Go Diamonds!) and had a ball.  Then day 6 happened, yesterday.   

I woke up feeling nauseous but nothing out of the ordinary.  I liken it to my first trimester of pregnancy.  You don’t feel 100% but you get through.  We got the girls on the bus and I headed to the couch just for a quick rest (mornings with 9 and 10 year old girls are not easy).  I would not leave the couch the rest of the day.  Apparently a side effect of 5FU is a ‘chemo headache’ which took hold for a majority of the day.  Because the pain was so intense it caused nausea and I was unable to keep anything down until about 11:30 last night.  I called Kyle and he got a hold of the nurse at the Cancer Center who said I could take one dose of Ibuprofen (Tylenol does nothing for me and that is all I can take).  He called my neighbor Tara who came to my rescue because I couldn’t even get off the couch to get myself any medicine.  I am so thankful for her and her prayer over me yesterday! 

Unfortunately the girls had to witness my pain but I am seeing their strength just blossom from this.  What a blessing!  Kyle and the girls even went grocery shopping last night and did really well. God certainly has a plan for families that have a cancer diagnosis, talk about a crash course in grace, patience and strength! 

If Day 6 after Chemo is my worst day, then I totally have this!  As painful and miserable as I was, I just kept envisioning the chemo killing all those cancer cells and shrinking my tumors.  This is what will get me through!   

Five more rounds of chemo to go….. 

God IS Good.