Starting cycle #2

 

imageI feel like I should apologize for my silence, but I won’t. I know there are so many, so many, of you out there who follow and who sincerely want to know how “we” are doing. And for that, I am sorry that I haven’t at least given you the update that I am well. I could tell by the reactions when I went to church 2 weeks ago that some of you were just surprised I was dressed. But when things are going well, I feel good, and cancer is not knocking on my bedroom door, I want to just live. I want to carry on in some way that isn’t wrapped around sharing news or thinking of news or finding out news. You can usually take my silence as good news.

I finished my first cycle of Xeloda and had 1 week off. My side effects were hardly noticeable during the 2 weeks, but as the off week approached, my body must have been saturated. My hands and feet began to hurt. Like a sensitive feeling. While I didn’t see any mouth sores, my mouth was sore. Certain foods burned, most food had no taste and I just felt like I was holding my lips funny all week. But today as I start the next cycle, my body is back to normal. Only to repeat the process in 2 weeks I assume. We haven’t had any scans or marker testing yet, but I am anxious for that in the next few weeks.

My breathing is much better. While in the hospital, I was explaining the difficulty to my sister in law, and asked her how many seconds she could inhale. She said she could inhale air into her lungs for about 10 seconds. At the time, mine was only 2 seconds. There was pain and then my lungs just stopped, I couldn’t take in any more air. Try it yourself.¬† I will always have restricted breathing, but today I can get close to 6 seconds. There are still pockets of fluid on the side we did the procedure on, it worked in some ways, but also trapped in fluid. We see fluid on the other lung as well, but it is not causing any problems right now so we will not address it.

I have been active with the kids, doing my daily tasks and trying to enjoy my moments. However, cancer is still present. Reality still meets me daily. Because in the middle of laundry, I am filling out a book about myself to leave to my kids. While I wait in the pickup line, I am signing birthday cards that I want to leave for my girls to open years and years from now. While planning for dinner, I am recording the book of John for them to listen to their mom’s voice and God’s word at the same time. You see, life goes on, for right now it really does. But how far it goes on is never far from my thoughts. What can I do for them or what should I leave for them is always heavy on my heart. The balance of staying full of hope for healing and preparing for the possible is overwhelming.

Still and quiet

FullSizeRenderIn the stillness and the somber of my morning, I opened my chemo pills. I prayed over each pill I took this morning as if it were the Lord’s Supper. Begging that the Lord would just use these little, toxic pills to transform my life. That somehow, His plan was for me to get to this point so He could restore me with this drug, if only temporarily. I have more fight in me and I am not ready to find out that this drug is not enough. I have more memories to make, more feet to rub at night, more hair to brush, more clothes to wash, more goldfish to sweep off the floor, more papers to sign, more meals to clean up, more soccer to watch, more days with friends, more belly-laughs, more bible studies, more lunches with my man, more head rubs, more.

I am thankful for this day. After a dark night of pain and loneliness, God’s goodness meets me just where I need it. In the form of my man knowing I needed to see him this morning before he went to work, some laughs with mom and dad, finally a hairwash, lunch and company from friends and the possibility of seeing an end to my stay here.

Pray with me that this drug, Xeloda, will specifically target the rebellious cells in my body. Search and find them wherever they are and destroy them. Please pray that I have the energy and life in me to continue to live these weeks and fight. And in 3 weeks, may we see a little more of God’s plan revealed. And may my soul be ready and prepared for that plan.

 

Longing for the sun

The weather is pitiful here. The clouds and the constant drip mimic my mood. I have been sitting in ICU for 4 days looking out of this dreary window. Out of six beds, only 2 have doors and I am so thankful to be in a room with a door. I had a chest tube placed last week to drain the fluid that is sitting in the lining of my lung. It is still draining quite a bit, so they have not released me yet. In addition, they sprayed some stuff on the pleural lining that will cause it to stick and close up the space that is filling with fluid. There was also a freezing technique that was used to any cancer areas that were seen in the lungs. It is meant only to work in conjunction with chemo, but could give my body a head start at killing the cancer in that area.

My chemo pills arrived today. They were delivered straight to the house I assume in a gold plated box for the price I paid for them. I will begin those drugs tomorrow and start the 1st 3 week cycle and then evaluate how the cancer responds. Thank you so much for your messages, prayers and donations. I have literally been reading messages daily since Wednesday.

The news of more cancer quickly changes your thinking. What is important? Who is important? One of the things that I want to do is to take a trip with each girl. One on one. It will be a great time for making memories and allow me to just pour my love on that one child. I am going to be bold and say I need your help. Alyssa would like to go to the beach. Sit in the sand, read a book no doubt, and listen to the calming orchestra of the waves. Does anyone have access to a property that would allow us to do this easily? I don’t have a specific location, but I do want it appropriate for the two of us. The other girls and I have discussed places they would like to go, but the beach is one that I am willing to reach beyond my comfort zone and ask. You were all chosen to walk beside me at different levels, your friendship is not by coincidence. Thank you for serving my family.

The hard and the ugly

I can only start with this:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither my ways your ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

There is no other truth that I can cling to if I don’t believe this. There is no explanation. No blame I can lay. No coincidences. No justifying. It just doesn’t make sense. And if God’s ways are as meaningless as mine, I would have nothing. No point to go on. Nothing to hinge my hope on. But despite the news that is staring in my face, I know My God has a plan.

In December throughout radiation, I began to collect fluid on my lungs. It is was being watched but we didn’t do more than that. I coughed for a few weeks, but as I returned home the cough went away for a bit. Let’s jump to today. I have been coughing for weeks. An unproductive cough. It is an irritation to the lining that makes my body think it needs to expel something. I have had shortness of breath and find it very hard to carry on a conversation without coughing. SubstandardFullSizeRender-4 This image is from Feb 24th. The white shows the amount of fluid that is compressing the lung. As it is drained, the lung begins to expand again. However, within 5 days, mine filled back up. So today I sit burdened by a cough and unable to take deep breaths. The fluid was sent to pathology at MDA and confirmed there are breast cancer cells in the lung.

This may be confusing to some, but the explanation is that when cancer metastasizes (spreads) it travels through the lymph or blood channels. So the cancer that I have had all along was not killed off with chemo and was given the chance to travel. Maybe it has been in my system for awhile, but October scans revealed no evidence of disease. And today I have a comparison scan that says something different is going on in March.

How I want to make this eloquent and worth reading, but my soul just doesn’t have it in me. So buckle up for the facts. Cancer in the lining of the lungs. A lesion on the liver that was not present 4 months ago. Multiple spots in the spine on the CT scan and areas on the femur and pelvis. It has gone where it wants. It is not contained. It is not medically curable. I have a MRI of my brain coming soon to see if it has spread to there as well.

I am not going to even address how we are doing. Stupid question with a stupid response that wouldn’t even touch the surface. We have a hard and ugly road ahead. I can’t even bring myself to type a fight. A fight suggests that you can win and we know the ultimate outcome here.

Things have been changing daily, but here is where we are now. I will start a chemo pill in a week or so. Side effects unknown, depends on each case. 2 weeks on, 1 week off. Then we scan. If the spots are steady or shrink, we continue. If they grow, we move on to the next drug. This will be the remainder of my life. Keeping the cancer managed.

To immediately address the issue of the fluid, I will be admitted Thursday for a surgical procedure to keep the fluid from returning. On the front end, it will be harder, but should permanently keep it from refilling.

I am sorry to deliver such bad news. I am sorry that I am not in a place to make it sound more hopeful. I know that many of you have been waiting and this is the fastest, easiest way to spread the news.

Do not let hardship and pain drive you from your maker. Do not doubt his love for me and my family. I don’t understand His ways, but I trust them. I will press into Him to reveal this path to me and I ask that join along side us, trusting Him.