Choosing fun

2014-03-30 15.27.02-2 I know that I have my children for such a short amount of time. I know that the years go so fast and I will look back and miss the moments of tantrums, slamming doors, spilled milk, laundry, crying, whining. (Really, will anyone miss the whining?) Despite what we know, we choose work over fun. Cleaning, cooking, laundry, dusting, organizing. And if we are honest, we know that despite our best effort at those things today, we will still have to do them again tomorrow. Well, my current lot in life has given me a new perspective and today I chose fun! Messy, creative, “oh, no you didn’t”, FUN!

We took a drop cloth to the front yard and a few extra canvases and painted! All the paint you want, yes! drop it there, smear that, add some more, splatter it everywhere – paint! My only rule was that they couldn’t “draw” with the paintbrush. They had to create with creativity. And, I had a blast. When you let the concerns of life go, you can just allow yourself to be free. And, surprisingly, kids are very creative if you give them the space. I think mine were a little surprised with the “fun” that this mom allowed today. Even though I now have a garage of paint supplies to clean up in addition to my sink of dishes, laundry to fold, and floors to vacuum, I am glad that today I chose fun!

Looking into the coming week with another round of chemo on Monday, I know that each day cannot look like this. If this week mimics last, I will be in bed more times than I want, and I will be letting the work and the fun slide more than I want. Honestly, knowing what is to come, I am not looking forward to tomorrow at all. Many have asked how I feel, and I am thankful that I have not been “sick”. But Monday – Friday my body was worn, tired, jittery, just not myself. Things feel different, food tastes different and I feel like I just don’t belong where I am. But by Friday evening, I was back to myself. I was able to enjoy a good weekend of soccer, church and friends and able to fill my cup back up just enough before it gets dumped out again tomorrow. Cancer sucks.

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Biopsy Results

We have been waiting for several weeks on biopsy results. The first core biopsy did not have enough live cells to determine the specifics of the cancer, so the needle biopsy was done last week. My original cancer was ER+, PR+ and HER2 -. The docs were at least hopeful that this time it would be HER2+ because that gave them another drug to use to target that protein and basically cut off the cancer’s fuel source. The news today is that I am what they call triple negative (Triple Negative Breast Cancer). All I know right now is that the drug they could have given me to fight the HER2+ cancer, won’t do me any good now.

I did receive some very good news however. The BART genetic test that I took, came back with no mutations. So I am BRCA 1, BRCA 2, and BART clear. My girls will have an automatic high risk for breast cancer, but at least it is not in the DNA.

It’s the day after chemo, and I am doing okay. I notice a little sleepiness, but can’t do much about that today. We will wait and see if the days ahead hit harder.

Day One

imageI come to this office several times a year. A quick checkup, a smile to the people sitting in the treatment room at the end of the hall, and I was done. I think the last time I was here I probably even said, “I am so glad that i am not back there.”

Well today, I sit in that treatment room, and I have my best friend sitting with me. I definitely bring the average age in the room down by 40 years, but maybe I can bring some youthful humor to this place. So far, I think they just all think I am in the wrong place. We have the saline started that they run before the meds. I’ve had the discussion of side effects from the nurse and accessed my port. I’m trying to get comfortable in this chair and settle in for a few hours.

I have had such great encouragement and love sent from so many of you. Thank you for being in my corner as we start this fight.

“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, the Lord surrounds his people.” Psalm 125:2


Ending on a high

We have some good friends that have this awesome tradition. At dinner, they go around the table and say the hi and low for the day. We have started doing this and had I been at the dinner table tonight, this would be my answer.

Low: My biopsy.

I woke extra early today to beat the Austin traffic for my second biopsy. I left the house without seeing or talking to anyone. I was fairly confident about this procedure because I have done it before. Either I blocked out the pain and discomfort of this ultrasound driven needle biopsy or today’s was just that much worse. This morning’s procedure was by far the worst thing I have experienced thus far (this time around). The needle, the sound, the pressure was more than my body could take…and I like to think I have a pretty high tolerance for pain. My welps and the tears streaming down my face must have brought it to their attention that I was not completely numb. Another needle, more “drilling” (lets be honest, that is what it seems like) and another painful prick into the deep tissue. I was in pain. Physically, some of the worst pain and honestly, emotionally I was drained. I have had 2 weeks of IVs, blood drawn, contrast injected, scans, and discussions of the best way to cut apart my body and put it back to look somehow like a woman still. And there I lay, with people cutting, stabbing into my body to suck out cancer to place in a petri dish. It was just more than I could handle. I have been alone in several of these procedures. Sure there is a tech there that is rubbing my hand like it is actually soothing to me, but I am alone… or am I? I am so lucky that I have a Savior who stands by me in all this. I could feel it. A God who will never leave me, a God who never slumbers. His head is not turned, He is watching head on. He hears my cries, He sees those tears and all I needed in those torturous moments was to feel Him with me. Oh, how I am so thankful to feel His presence.

High: Bunco!

I have been a part of a great group of ladies for over a year that get together once a month to laugh, roll the dice, to just let it all out. We bring money each week that goes into the pot for buying prizes. After a fun night of way too much food and lots of 80s music, I looked around for the prizes. Instead of 5 different ladies going home with a prize, my friends gave all the money to me. I am continually surprised at the generosity of people. The love and support that so many have for us. When I got home, the best part was sitting on the couch and reading the sweet words that each lady wrote to me. God has definitely picked me up several times in my life and moved me. Not to rip me from the friendships I had, but to specifically place me in new ones. He placed me right here, on this street, at this school, at this church, in this group, to serve a higher purpose than I ever dreamed. Thank you to all those who have stepped up and who are proving to me that I am exactly where God needed me at this exact time.

Prayers: Waiting on results from the biopsy,  please pray that this cancer is HER2 + to allow for specific targeted therapy.

Pray that as we begin chemo, the tumor/s shrink.

Pray for wisdom for the doctors who are working together to make the best plan for my treatment.

Waiting on the BART gene results, pray that it comes back normal. The average woman has a 1 in 8 chance of breast cancer. My precious girls already have a 1 in 4 chance because of me. If I have a genetic mutation towards breast cancer, their risk is even higher.

Continue to lift up my family/friends. This diagnosis hurts so many people beyond just me.

Coming up: Surgery for the port on Friday, 21st. 1st chemo begins Monday, 24th. I will receive treatment every 21 days for 6 cycles.


I am absolutely exhausted at the end of this week. Not, “I’ve traveled and had an awesome spring break, so glad to be home” exhausted. Not, “I have cleaned the house, washed 8 loads of laundry and done the grocery shopping” exhausted. Not even, “My kids have been running in and out of the house all day loud and obnoxious” exhausted. I know there is definitely some emotional exhaustion at work, but really I think it is physical exhaustion. Since my diagnosis 2 weeks ago, I have had 9 appointments/procedures, with 5 different doctors and traveled 272 miles. That may look great on my taxes next year, but right now it is overwhelming.

I am so thankful for the people that surround and support me. My husband has been away from work to be by my side for most of those appointments. My friends in town are picking up, playing with or just loving on my girls. My mom and dad have been here for a few days taking care of dinner, bedtime routines and our yard. And I can’t even begin to start on the fundraising efforts that are already in full swing.

As we continue to put our trust in the Lord, continue to focus our gaze on him, I am amazed at the blessings that fall on us. We are still waiting for details about this cancer, but we will continue to move forward. My year looks like chemo, surgery and radiation. Dates are not set for chemo, but the port will find its new home resting uncomfortably under my clavicle next week. If you are interested in following this fight, stayed plugged in here. Some days you may get the long and some days just the short, but my heart will no doubt be revealed like it has so many times before. Thank you for walking by our side.

“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 4:8-9

Lace up the gloves

LoveI have been sketching lately. I fully intended to get on board with the idea of selling printables in my Etsy shop. I would come up with new ideas, sketch and scan, or digitally create a design for customers to purchase. My sketchpad and pens have been out for weeks, only on this day last week, I was sketching to soothe my soul instead of earn money. Convincing and confirming my soul that God is Good.

Friday, Feb 28th, I met with my oncologist to discuss some changes that had been bothering me. For almost 4 years, I had been cancer-free, healthy; healed. But now, I knew something had changed. The area in my chest that had undergone surgery and radiation felt and looked different. My doc took a quick look and ordered a biopsy and CT scan that afternoon. We waited and prayed through the weekend, worried beyond measure. By Tuesday March 4th, I was back with the oncologist awaiting the results of those tests. The CT scan had come back clear…that meant that if there was any cancer present, he could tell it had not metastasized. (Thank you God) But the biopsy had been sent to MD Anderson for a second opinion. It was that Friday, March 7th after preliminary results, that my doctor confirmed the cancer had returned. The cancer does look different, so even as I type, MD Anderson is still looking at it. Since last week, I have met with a radiation oncologist who confirms that radiation is in my future. I have met my oncologist who expresses his concern for this aggressive cancer that has already presented itself twice. I have met with a surgeon who confirms that a mastectomy is necessary. And lastly, today, I received a text telling me that the surgeon who will put in my port is calling to schedule a consultation. If you are following, that means chemo. I hated that word in 2010 and guess what… still do. In the days to come, I have a mammogram, ultrasound and MRI. I believe the surgeon’s words were, “I want to know what I am up against before I go into surgery.” I do not have a firm plan yet as they are awaiting some results from the biopsy, possibly doing a second biopsy and results from a new genetic test for the BART mutation.

Back to God is good. Do you believe that? Look at even your life. Can you believe that?

I can. And I will. I may be face-down to the throne everyday begging, boldly asking for him to take this away, but with all my heart I will believe He is good. He is love. He is in control.

Stick around, FIGHT4JULIE is back on.

“…Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 12:9