Thursday, December 10, 2015

December 10 Thankful Thursday

I sit here listening to the sound of the movie Home for the millionth time. Sadie really enjoys this movie. She just said, "This movie is a good one." It will keep her busy long enough for me to type this.

It's time for a quick update. I'm extremely tired today. I woke up yesterday and was feeling really good. My back wasn't hurting for the first time since I slipped on some ice the day after Thanksgiving so I got a lot of stuff done. Still more to do in prep of having my sisters and their families visit us. I really am looking forward to them all being here but like to keep things as simple as possible so we can maximize the visiting. I'm planning simple meals and thinking that since the majority of us enjoy breakfast, that we'll do a brunch on Christmas morning and then we can still have some good food for dinner but the pressure will be off for expectations of a big dinner...well, at least I'm thinking so. I have some amazing sisters so I will have plenty of help.

Well after the amount of laundry and stuff I got done around the house you would have thought I would have been able to fall asleep easily but something happened yesterday evening that made my heart cry with sadness. I can't disclose on here exactly what happened but lets just say that my 3 school aged children could use prayers with school issues which spans from homework, teachers that don't explain things clearly, friendships, etc. I'm sure there are many others out there that have experienced parts of what I'm talking about. I'll pray for your children & you too. It is hard to see your kids going through those tough times. But I just kept praying about it all last night & messaged a friend for some words of encouragement and was finally able to fall asleep. I didn't get much sleep so I'm not getting much done today but that's okay I guess. I get to enjoy Gabby's band concert tonight and am thrilled that I will get help wrapping presents on Saturday from friends in my church family. I look forward to having that part done early.

Try not to fill your days ahead with too much stuff to do. Remember the season we are celebrating and take some time to enjoy it between the Christmas parties, performances, and such. Pray for those that you  know feel lonely during this Christmas season and be encouraging to as many people as God asks you to. Speak life!  Our kids have been arguing too much lately and we keep reminding them to Speak Life to each other. This is a favorite song of mine that I may have shared before but it is definitely worth sharing again. I always like sharing the lyrics of a song so you can read them while listening. They are powerful. the bible tells us that Life and Death are in the power of the tongue. It also tells us to be encouraging to others.

 I'm still praising God that the Chest CT scan was clear. I'm praising God that the pain in my body is leaving and I am feeling better each day. I am thankful for the help that I need and that I am able to do more these days without so many side effects as the Taxotere chemo was giving me. My eyebrows are growing back but up close look kinda funny since they are sticking straight out from being so short. The hair on my head is growing though some days it looks completely WILD! I do my best to be okay with it, especially after looking back at pictures of when I had NO hair. My head and neck are ok with this warmer weather though I really do enjoy the look or a white Christmas. It brings back so many wonderful memories of my childhood and the loving, wonderful family I got to spend it with. I'm looking forward to my nails coming back and not being quite so awful. They keep ripping from the chem and some are so short that they kinda hurt but I am thankful that they are growing and getting better. Each day is a sweet and small victory that adds up to the Battle that is already won on my account...and yours too.  Well, it's time for me to go purchase some date night tickets to the New Star Wars movie. We hope to take the kids after Christmas but for now, my wonderful, geeky husband and I are going to enjoy some VIP seats and I need to get the tickets before they are sold out. Have another great week. Find something to be thankful for. Just because Thanksgiving is over doesn't mean to forget. If this thankful stuff is new to you, maybe you need to start big and work your way down to all the little things that you are thankful for. We all have something to be thankful for if we look.

Be thankful & encourage!
Jeannette :)

P.S. I am thankful for my baby sister who was born 2 weeks before Christmas years ago. Her birthday is tomorrow so if you know Natalie, wish her a happy birthday.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Praise God for Good Report!

I posted this short update for the results for the CT of my chest on Facebook already but I know there are a few that follow the blog and don't go on FB.

They did the CT scan on Monday which if you've never had the contrast dye that they's weird. Makes you feel as though you are all warmed up inside and the lady said for some it can make them feel as if they are urinating. Such a strange feeling to be all warm inside like that.  Anyway, I saw the oncologist today and he said that the CT scan was clear and didn't show any nodules. He said he's not sure what they saw on the portable chest x-ray but that I am good.  I said, Praise God for that good report!

I am to start up the hormone blocking meds again since I stopped the Taxotere chemo.  I still am scheduled to get the receptor meds every 3 weeks but those 2 don't take as long and I was out of there rather quickly today & able to get a few groceries that Adam needs since he's on road most of the week from here on out until Christmas.  The next time I go in, I don't even have to have labs drawn which cuts the time there even shorter. It never takes long to draw the labs but takes nearly an hour to get them back so we know if everything is ok for them to give me the nasty chemo. Since I'm not doing that one, I don't need labs next time.  That is a nice feeling.

I have been praying that I get good results for the last 4 weeks and I must say, I sure needed this good news. It is definitely a faith builder to have prayers answered like this. I continue praying & believing for a complete healing because I truly believe that it has been done and I just have to receive it for it to manifest.

I must keep this short. Sadie has had a runny nose and been waking up between 4 and 5am and not falling asleep again until close to time for everyone else to wake up or after we are all up getting ready for the day. Tomorrow I don't have to go anywhere in the am so I am going to take advantage of that and snuggle with Sadie when she wakes up but I'm heading to bed soon in hopes of getting a better night's sleep since my nose has been runny too.

Thank you for all the prayers you lifted up on behalf of me and my family. I truly felt them because I was not a basket case waiting to re-run the chest CT and I wasn't a crazy mess from the time of having the CT done yesterday to getting the results. That waiting game can make a person bazerk but I felt mostly at peace and when a thought would come into my mind, I would say my thoughts are captive to you God. And give it to Him to take care of. It certainly worked and though I was expecting good news today, I was relieved to hear it.  God is faithful and his love endures forever!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Veterans Day & Treatment #7 Update: Medical talk included

I want to start out by saying Happy Veterans Day. I know many people that have served and many who have passed. I want to say a huge THANK YOU to all because Freedom is not Free by any means. Thank you for helping protect my right to worship God as I choose. Thank you for standing up for the rights of people who can't do it themselves. Thank you for your sacrifice in time, money, your lives, etc. Thank you does not seem enough but I greatly appreciate all you've done and those that continue to serve. I pray for healing of bodies, hearts, & minds for the things that you've seen and done and struggle with. For those with PTSD that they will be free from it and healed by God's amazing grace and touch. Thank you Grandpa Kenny for serving in WWII, for Uncle Randy who served in the Navy, for my Dad who served in the National Guard to name a few that are close to me. Thank you to my Grandma Mahoney for writing to service men when they were away from their homes and families to help them stay connected. I too did that for a few people and I like when our community pulls together and sends cards and packages to those stationed away from home.  I am going to choose not to name anyone else because the list would start to get long and I know I would miss many special people so instead I will just say Thank you to all service men and women. God Bless you ALL!!!

 This pic is from a few years ago but I really like it & wanted to share.

I thought that since I'm trying to include a warning about medical stuff I'll be talking about that perhaps I could find an image to use when it comes to that part of the update.  It won't always mean that I'm talking in great descriptive detail about things that might seem gross to others but it will include the medical stuff.  Hope this helps. Just trying to make it a little easier to navigate through all of this and I am a work in progress and so is my blog. LOL

Had another Treatment Tuesday Nov 10th.  Spoke with the doctor and what I don't understand is why no one at the hospital told me that on the chest x-ray they did last Wednesday that they found a lung mass. My doctor said that he wants to give me a little time to get over this cold the rest of the way and do a CT scan before my next appointment in 3 weeks so he has the results to go over with me. He said that it doesn't appear that it should be cancer spreading to my lungs because I haven't had anything else that would indicate that but he had a tumor marker number drawn yesterday and we should get that number back in a week or so. And then the CT scan.  I am standing on God's word that no weapon formed against me shall prosper and that God is greater and will do immeasurably more than I could even think or ask for. I would appreciate others standing in agreement with me and also for prayer to help keep my thoughts captive to God so that fear and other thoughts don't try to take over as I am entered into the waiting game of the tumor marker numbers & CT scan & results.

On a good test note, the blood tests that they ran for sepsis came up completely free and clear of infection so PRAISE GOD for that result. I actually had no worries about that. I was like 99% sure it would be clear. That 1% was a slight waiver because my flesh was trying to tell me different than my Spirit already knew & I was fighting it, just like I am fighting this lung mass information.

I told my doctor that even though today marked Taxotere treatment #7 which is not an even number, I would like to stop at 7. It is viewed as a holy number, God's perfect number.Seven is the number of completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual).  I told him that I usually like even numbers but that I had been praying about it and feel as though this is the time to stop. He said okay, we will discuss the next options of treatment in 3 weeks. I will still receive the Her2 meds which are perjeta and herceptin every 3 weeks but they don't cause as many side effects for me as the taxotere has. And like I said, I am believing and expecting for the CT scan to be clear in a few weeks

Wrapping this up I will I have 3 days worth of steroids in my body. Adam has only a few days left of vacation, Friday will be a down day for me when my body needs to rest from the taxotere treatment I got yesterday so today is the big work day to get as much done in our house as we can. We were hoping to declutter together but Adam came off of about 5 weeks of pre-load work where he's up at 2:30am and was working 12 hours most days and it isn't even Christmas season yet. It took his body a little longer to get back onto a more normal schedule and we are really hoping to get lots done today. So I'm off to get dressed and start our day.  Have a great Wednesday and remember our Veterans.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Was in the hospital

So Gabby went to Youth Convention last weekend and had a great time. She got home around 8:30 and then had some homework to finish so she was up kinda late. When she woke up on Monday morning she wasn't feeling the greatest and I thought it was from being tired. Being a little more compassionate for people not feeling well since being diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago, I allowed her to sleep a little longer and tried to take her to school for 2nd hour. She missed Chorus 1st hour and that was okay. However, when she was going to get out of the van she was very nauseous and by the time we walked into the house again, she was in the bathroom getting rid of that nausea. She started running a fever between 100-almost 102. She missed Tuesday as well but the fever was gone by Wednesday so she went to school.

Warning: Medical talk below....

I had been very cold Tuesday night and didn't sleep much because I was shivering. My alarm clock went off and  I got up, took the kids to school. Made myself a shake for breakfast but was really cold so I didn't finish it. Took a shower trying to warm up and then curled up in my bed to get warmer and fell asleep. I slept most of the day. Made Sadie some food and she stayed pretty close to me so I'd wake up and check on her but I was so sleepy. Then Adam got home and I took my temperature. It was up to 101.6. Not good, especially for a person that has been doing chemo treatments. So I called the doctor's office and waited for a call back. They told me they were concerned that my WBC was low and that I needed to have it checked so I should go to the walk in clinic. I did. They checked for strep because my nose was all stuffy and drainage in my throat and it looked nasty. Negative. They did a urine culture and that was negative and instead of sending me to the lab for the blood draws, they opted to send me to the ER. Oh joy!

They got me checked in with Triage and into a room fairly quickly. They had the lab people come to me and they had a hard time accessing my port at first because they didn't have a long enough needle, so we waited for about 15 or 20 minutes until someone could get the right size. They had to collect from 2 different sites so my port and then a poke on my arm because they needed to test my blood to see if I had an infection in my blood which translates pretty much to sepsis. But that test takes 2-3 days to get results back. They did a chest x-ray which was negative, and they did a flu test which was negative. I had been praying and the Tylenol that I had taken before going in started to work and I was feeling more myself. They started an IV to re-hydrate me and I continued to wait. The doctor ended up coming back in to tell me and my mother-in-law that I would need to be admitted overnight in order to figure out what was going on. It is protocol for people that have a fever and have had chemo treatments or something. I was not thrilled to hear this. So my mother-in-law couldn't do anything else with me there and went home to get a few things and went to my house in order to get the kids to bed and get them off to school on Thursday and take care of Sadie on Thursday.

It took until midnight for them to get a bed for me in the hospital and then nearly another hour to get me checked in with a million questions to answer, vitals to be done again and then for me to wait to be seen by the doctor there for an evaluation. I was mostly fine except they hadn't been able to get me any Tylenol to bring the fever back down and I was chilled again. It had been about 9 1/2 hours since I had any and because of the procedures they have in place, I had to wait for the doctor's orders to get into the computer. The doctor was very nice and told me that they planned to keep me until they got the blood test back whether I had an infection in my blood, which meant 2-3 days in the hospital. WHAT!!!!?!!?! No way!!! I did not want to stay so I prayed and told God that I did not want to stay there because I wasn't sick enough to be in the hospital and I wanted him to do something about it.

I finally took some Tylenol at 1:45 am and was able to try to fall asleep. I was cold but when the Tylenol kicked in, I got hot and threw off all the covers and felt fine ever since then. I've had a bit of a runny nose but that seems like nothing compared to what they were trying to say I might have. I kept telling them that my daughter had the same thing on Mon & Tues but they wanted to keep me. So Adam encouraged me to call my Oncologist in Green Bay and share the info of what was going on and see if he would do anything different. He made a call to his associate that was in Escanaba yesterday and asked if he'd come see me and see whether he felt comfortable advising that I be released. Then he called me and told me this information. I tried to watch tv earlier but there really wasn't anything good on so I shut it off and opened the blinds a little and sat in the chair near the window and prayed. I was just thinking that I wished I had my cell phone so I could continue reading the book I started called "When Heaven Invades Earth" but I had forgotten my phone in the van and I didn't have a charger with me anyway. Then I remembered that there should be a Bible in the room thanks to the Gideons and I went to find it. I found it and sat down and started reading, pausing when my lunch came & when the nurse came to take my vitals. I read for a few hours I think and stopped to pray at different times when I felt I needed to or when the scriptures spoke to me. Then the Oncology doctor came in to see me. He only cracked the door a little and didn't see me in the bed and said where are you because he had heard me reply for him to come in. I said over here. He was like oh, you're not in the bed. I said no, I refuse to lay there when I'm not sick. It made him chuckle. He asked how I was feeling and I said I feel really good. He said well you look great! He examined me and then asked if they were going to release me tomorrow. I said maybe but my other doctor said you might be willing to talk to them and ask for me to be released today. He said, oh sure, I can do that. You seem fine. I explained again how my daughter had the same thing earlier in the week and ran the same kind of temperature and that I hadn't run a fever for any of the chemo treatments I have had. He talked to the doctor and she came in to see me and signed the discharge papers. In the meantime, they had pumped me full of antibiotics and gave me diarrhea to which they tested to make sure I didn't have c-diff. She said that they would call me with the results and she sent me home on an antibiotic of HUGE pills and told me to treat the head cold. I haven't had a fever since it broke in the hospital and I am ever so thankful to be back at home. I don't expect to have a blood infection because if I did have sepsis, I would not look or feel the way I do.  I didn't have my phone with me so I didn't have any phone numbers to call anyone and I couldn't get online to tell anyone either. I figured this was the easiest way to share what happened when people start hearing I was in the hospital and asking questions. Sorry I didn't contact anyone, especially close family members. Once I got home around 4:30, it was snuggle the kiddos because we missed each other so much. Then dinner, then chores & homework and a run to the pharmacy to get the meds they prescribed to me. Then get the kiddos to bed and help Gabby finish her homework and then off to bed myself. Whew! But I was sooooo thankful to be able to do those things. Today I did most of my usual things in the morning with getting the kids ready for school. My mother-in-law stayed the night in order to help out again today and took the kids to school and then we've been picking up and cleaning today. And when I received a text asking how I am doing...I thought it was time to sit down and type an update so questions are answered.
God continues to be so GOOD! I was going to share a few verses that spoke to me yesterday but I was unable to mark them because I had the hospital bible and didn't even have a pen in the room so as they come back to my memory, I'll be sure to share. But today was really quite normal. Thanks for the prayers and concerns. And it's Friday so I'm doing great!  ~Jeannette :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

We need to think before we post words, images, and video, etc. on any type of social media. WARNING included

Here's something that has been bothering me & I think I may be personally at fault too.

This is my personal opinion and I know I could get flack from it but I feel the need to share this. I write this in a non-judgement capacity and out of love. I do not want to take away from what I think were positive intentions, nor do I want to come across as bashing this woman, she has been through a lot, I know this because I've been walking a similar road for 2 years now.

WARNING: I will be describing an image I have seen circulating on FB of a former cancer patient that I feel is inappropriate. I however, will not be sharing this image. I also describe an abusive video that was circulating months ago. Continue reading if you choose.

There is a picture that is circulating on the internet, mostly FB, and while I think I understand the reasoning behind this woman posting her picture after having a double mastectomy and radiation treatment and I think chemo as well, I do not agree with the posting of it, especially with no warning in the description that it will show a woman topless. While I believe that her heart is wanting to do the right thing by encouraging women who may get the same diagnosis as her to fight, or her desire to encourage people to educate themselves on breast cancer, or her desire to share with people who have no idea what it may look like to go through treatment of breast cancer, and her desire to give God the glory for getting her through this ordeal,  I do not think it is okay to have this picture all over FB and here is why...

I am trying to teach my children, especially my girls to be modest and this picture, though it does not contain breast tissue as people are used to seeing, it is still the part of a woman that is typically covered by a swimsuit making it private and therefore should at the very least come with a warning. Another reason, this one is near and dear to my heart, is that I have at least 1 child who is very visual. God created her with a phenomenal imagination which means that when she reads something, she very vividly has a picture pop into her head & she can come up with some amazing things to write out with her imagination. It also means that when she does not have enough information about something, her imagination can fill in the gaps and sometimes that can be very scary for a child. It also means that when she sees an actual image, it is burned into her memory. Actually, I've read info from studies done that shows that images of people with few or no clothes on are burned into a person's mind forever, both male & female & I don't think it is limited to an age. So if my child happens to come across an image such as I have described above, it will forever be in his/her mind. What about a person who has a mother that has gone through some of the same treatments as the woman sharing on FB.  Another reason I think this image should have contained a warning at the beginning of it's description is because I'm sure I'm not the only mother who has children, specifically girls that may wonder if this will happen to them because it happened to their mom or someone they know. I am speaking about all children in general, whether young or old. Children are dear to my heart, that's why I volunteer to work with them in many capacities. I believe we should help preserve their innocence for as long as possible. They already grow up too quickly and are exposed at younger and younger ages to things they should not be.
Whether you think I'm a prude or fuddy-duddy, or over-protective please know I just want the best for children and want them to enjoy their childhood without being scarred for life. I've worked with and seen far too many people that are grown adults and have so much hurt and pain to work through because of things that they experienced early in life when they should have been protected & they unwillingly pass it to their own children in some way, shape, or form. As for my own children, I do not feel that I am over-protective. Anyone that knows me knows that I do not shield my children from the truth or from bad things that happen, we face them head on and with God's help and we've had more than our fair share of practice. So when I say that it should be my choice of what to share with my children and when an appropriate time is to share these sensitive issues with them, I do it out of what I believe is in their best interest. I have had many private talks with my children addressing all sorts of subjects, including some uncomfortable ones that needed to be talked about. I do not hide them from the world but I know my children and what they can handle better than someone else and at least having a WARNING about content of words or images should have been included in the previously mentioned FB post.

Please remember that  FB is not only for adults and quite honestly, even if it was, this image is not what I would consider appropriate. I have thought about reporting it and have not decided whether that is the way to go or not but I thought that I would at least jump on my soapbox for a minute and give people some other things to consider when posting images on FB. Please think before you share. As I type this, I am reminded that some people don't want to read all the things that I have going on for the last 2 years with a cancer diagnosis. They choose to pray for me and think positive for me rather than reading all the updates.  Some people feel deeper than others, it's how God created them and they need to find a balance so they can continue to function in life without being overwhelmed with feeling everything.  I completely understand and it's why I try to say that I'll be talking about an update including the diagnosis at the beginning of my post if I can remember. No I'm not perfect, no one is. But I felt it was necessary to remind people to please think before you share, especially an image or a video. For example I saw a description for a video about a woman doing horrible abuse to a small child and I did NOT click on the video. I chose not to. Not because I didn't care about that child but because I knew that imagery would be burned into my mind and I don't like to put all that negative stuff in my mind. I know it happens, I don't need to see it to know it either. Watching things like that, especially done to children, makes it more difficult for me to stay positive and heal. I will admit that I prayed for that little girl right then and there and I prayed for that woman to be held accountable for her actions and to get the help that she needs since she clearly lacked control and proper thinking. My heart tells me that she was hurt, probably in a similar way or saw these kinds of actions and it sickeningly seemed normal to her.  I did not agree with what the video description said about the woman deserving to get the same kind of treatment. I'm pretty sure she already did so what good does that do? nothing, she needs Jesus and she needs help to heal & to understand that behavior is not okay.

My point about the original image I described is this post is this; just because stupid cancer was involved in how this woman came to have a double mastectomy and radiation and shared a photo of her bare torso does not make it entirely different then if a woman that had not had these atrocities happen to her shared her photo. It's not quite apples to apples but also not apples to oranges in comparison either.

There is no denying that Cancer SUCKS!!!! Mastectomies SUCK!!!! Chemo SUCKS!!! Radiation, the kind that takes several weeks and often causes a sunburn affect on the spots treated, SUCKS!!!!
I don't mean to step on toes or accuse anyone or hurt anyone, I say this in love, we need to be careful of what we share on social media, regardless of the circumstances.  We need to think about the BIG PICTURE. For every intention that is meant to help someone, think about whether it should come with a warning to give a reader a chance to make a choice for themselves whether they want to proceed with reading and especially viewing an image or video.  I will certainly be trying to do this from now on as I type about my journey to health and healing through my faith and how God is directing my path.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far. If you have opinions regarding this matter and plan to leave a comment, please be considerate and kind in what you write whether you agree with me or not. I don't want this woman to be bashed because I know that she's been through a lot and she is a survivor. Please be respectful. You may or may not see it in the same way I do...that's ok but please be loving and kind. I have fairly thick skin but I don't want this woman to be bashed.  Thanks. Oh and if the image that I have talked about is posted anywhere on my page or shared in my comments, I will remove it.

Treatment #6

October 20, 2015

It's only 10 days until my birthday of 39 and I am happy to celebrate that age. In a few days it will be 2 years since I was given a diagnosis of stage 4, metastatic breast cancer by the doctors. And today I had Chemo treatment #6. I had 4 chemo treatments before surgery, then I had 2 months off of it while waiting to heal from surgery and then I had 2 more treatments of it.  I still haven't decided whether I will continue with the chemo treatments up to 12 total or whether I will say let's take a break. I have been praying about it and don't feel that I have a definitive answer on it just yet so I will continue seeking God's plan for me until I feel at peace with the decision. Right now I am planning to see how today's treatment affects me to help with my decision but ultimately I am looking to God for direction. I know that God's best for me would be for me to receive complete healing from him right now but since I am having trouble with moving myself towards receiving or something is in the way, I know that God can use other methods to bring about the healing that he wants for me and that he has told me I'd have. His word does not change, we do, but he doesn't and I know I've said this before because it's my favorite verse. In fact, I gave Sadie my bible from when I was 4 or 5 and she carries it around with her and even sleeps with it on her pillow next to her. Yes, I know, very CUTE!

 I opened it up to Hebrews 13:8 and I'm not sure when I did it, but I underlined it even in my very old, small, new testament bible that my 3 year old now has. It says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!"  That means that when he gives a person a word, he means for it to happen. And through the Holy Spirit I have heard him tell me that He has tore out the root and will take care of the rest. A person praying over me shared with me that I would be completely healed and I believe these words of truth. There are different things that can hold it back from happening right away but God's best is for it to happen immediately and so I am working on getting my mind and heart to line up with what God's word says and what the holy spirit has told me.

And to cement it's truth, here is another verse that shares that God does not change in Malachi.  God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one so when God says he does not change and in the New Testament it says that Jesus does not change. That's saying the same thing and that is SUPER cool in my mind and heart.

Remember that awesome gift certificate that Gabby received to have a 1 night hotel stay...we were planning to use it this Friday but the hotel called and they are closing for the season earlier than anticipated and had to cancel our reservation. They did apologize and state that they will most certainly honor our certificate when they reopen in the spring. So even though we are bummed, we are thankful that we have something fun to look forward to after the winter months and we are planning to have a fun family night in our home this Friday instead. I have to plan ahead since I may not have a whole lot of energy but it will all work out. I would likely have had to miss out on swimming in the pool with my family since starting Thursday evening I may be more tired from the chemo treatment and in the past it has lasted about 48 hours total so perhaps it is better that we have to wait until spring so I can join my family in the fun! Yes, this is how I look at things as often as I a positive light. It sure does make life a lot better. And I tried to soften the blow for the kids by telling them that they can each take turns using our whirlpool tub over the weekend. That's a lot of water to put in the tub but it can be very relaxing and fun for them.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

I love Fall

October 15th

It's probably not a big surprise if I say that I love fall. The colors of fall are my favorite. I have a lot of my home decorated in fall colors. And my aunt once told me that a woman should look good in her home and that's why I'm drawn to those colors because they look good on me. Maybe that's true and maybe part of it is because my birthday is at the end of the month of October. Either way, I love seeing the colors change, the trees with the leaves that are bright red and orange jump out at me. I enjoy Fall in the UP with all of God's beauty. What an amazing world He created.

I have been a very busy person. I have 2 kids that are in Cross-Country and have practice Mon-Thurs each week with meets on Saturdays usually. They got a late start but are doing really good and have changed their attitudes towards it even though I made them be in it. I could see far more valuable lessons being learned by being a part of it that I actually didn't give them a choice. Their last meet is this Saturday and I do enjoy them, even if it can be quite cold to watch and wait for them to race. It would be neat for them to metal but it isn't necessary. I am more proud of them for having good attitudes, trying their best, completing each race, and having such a good relationship with each other (Gabby & Braly) that I am beaming with a smile from ear to ear with their accomplishments this season. I don't even know if they've improved over last year or not. The coaches tell me that they love watching Gabby run because she's always smiling her winning smile. And they have enjoyed watching Gabby & Braly together because they are such good friends besides being siblings. That makes this mama proud.

Morgan is in Girl Scouts again and we've had a parade for her that helped collect Toys for Tots and they wore costumes and handed out candy. She's had 2 meetings for Scouts and there are several things lined up already for her to participate in if she wants.

Sadie has been anxiously awaiting Storytime to start back up and next Wed is the day. She's pretty excited. She's had a fever of nearly 103 the past 3 nights so I haven't gotten a lot of sleep during the night and am thankful that I was able to sleep after getting the kids off to school 2 times this week.

Adam has been working the pre-load which means he's been having to go to bed really early. sure can make for a long day for him. He works so hard.

I had a chemo treatment on Sept 29th with the harsh stuff. It made me tired on Friday the 2nd and I slept for quite a while in the afternoon and have been doing pretty good for the most part. A little mouth cells sloughing off and making my lips and mouth feel weird, almost numb but nothing super bad. Some issues with digestion and having trouble with gluten and diarrhea but overall, I'm doing pretty good and thankful that I am able to take the kids to the places they need to go. I will be thankful for the x-country season to be over with as well and not run quite as much but I have enjoyed this season as well.

I will be having another chemo treatment with the harsh stuff on the 20th of October and will then decide whether that will be the last for awhile and see if the other meds work or whether I continue. I have had some pain in my low back which could be from previous back injuries or it could be from the metastatic cancer in the tailbone. I am praying and believing that God has removed all cancer cells from my body and speak to the pain to command it to flee.  I have been listening to a group called About a Mile and enjoy their music. You should check them out on their YouTube channel and Jeremy Camp's newer cd is amazing. Since I've been busy, it's been challenging to listen to sermons and get out of them what I can because I like to sit down and take notes. I'm one of those geeky note-takers in order to learn. So I've been playing certain songs. There is one that I'll share the video to because it really speaks to me. I hope that you listen to the lyrics and that it speaks to you as well.  Check it out and leave a comment about what you think of it.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Archived Day 3....coming to terms

This was accidentally sent to my old blog because I was trying to update from my phone while recovering from surgery back in August. After talking with a few people recently, I realized that some may only follow my blog for updates and not be on Facebook so they don't really know how I'm doing. Sorry friends for that. I will try to remember to update the blog and then share it on Facebook. I will be working to move all updates since the surgery onto here so please forgive me if they become a jumbled mess. I will try to figure it out.


Day 3...coming to terms

I have never been taught to walk away from anything throughout my life.  In fact,  when I was 16, I totaled my parents van. It was the van I had prayed for us to get, even, right down to the color. I was on my way to DC and hit black ice and totaled it soon after I got back, my parents had a new /used van for us and guess who had to drive? Me of course because they couldn't have me afraid of driving or afraid of life.
Yesterday I didn't do the greatest at facing the situation head on. I tried and well, let me explain.
I was supposed to have a nurse come to the house to help with the drains and the bandages.  It had been 48 hours and I was allowed to remove bandages for showering. I was looking forward to it.  Showers always make me feel better and with all the iodine on me,  I was a little itchy so I wanted to clean up.  The nurse didn't call so Adam took the bandages off. Seeing not much left of where my chest was but an incision made me feel light headed so I had to sit on the toilet so Adam could still take care of me. He put a fan in the door to cool the air and gave me a cold washcloth to hold on my forehead.  Then he used a warm washcloth to take as much of the iodine off my shoulder and arm while being super gentle and understanding. He joked with me as he checked to make sure everything looked good and then re-bandaged me carefully.
It wasn't even that my belly looked like it stuck out farther and made it look larger.  It was simply grieving the loss of part of me that I see every day. It is also grieving the loss of intamacy to some extent. Yes, reconstruction is an option but that will be another surgery,  more pain, new things to learn, etc.  I am thankful that God is my fortress.  He never changes. I can always count on Him!
I am blessed with a patient, knowledgeable, gentle,  & kind husband and so many others around me, too many to name. Continue the prayers please.  I followed directions and took pain meds every 4 hours for 48 hours and now it's time to see how it goes backing off of them.  My skin is still dry and itchy in spots, I'll see if I can fix that today. Hoping to be a little braver & stronger today than yesterday so I can get that shower I long for.

Sorry no cool graphics for verses today. This is the first blog post I've done from my phone I think & I'm not pushing it. Have a great and blessed day.  I know I will because it is Sunday and I'm expecting God to meet me where I'm at.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Details do matter

Today the calendar said only 3 days until surgery. I didn't feel panicked because of the surgery itself but rather I had a problem. It was kinda small in size but rather large to me and it has been bothering me for quite some time. I have tried to fix the problem myself but have failed each time and the clock was ticking, each calendar day that I mark off getting closer to surgery meant that I needed to have this problem fixed and I didn't know what I was going to do about it. I had taken care of all the others but the most special one to me was left.

A few weeks ago when the surgery date was nearly finalized I knew I had to get all my rings off but with the medications I've been on I have gained a lot of weight and my hands are puffy. I used some soap to take my thumb ring off and my 2 other rings that I wear but my wedding ring would not come off. I tried lotion, oil, cold water, etc and it would not budge over my puffy knuckle. So today I took it to the Provider of all my needs. I knew this wasn't just a mere desire to have my ring off my finger but I needed it off my finger and I had actually set today as the very last day to try to get it off myself. I had actually planned to make a few phone calls if needed to find out if I could go to the jewelers to have it cut off. I really cringed inside thinking about cutting my wedding ring and then having to have it repaired and possibly re-sized in order to wear it again but I knew something had to be done. So while I was showering I prayed. I brought it before God and it seemed kinda trivial to ask but I had asked prior to this but I don't think I really gave it to God. Do you ever do that? Pray about something but you kinda hang on to it yourself. As if you know better or think maybe it's too small to ask, or maybe you think it's far too much to ask for.  Well God cares. And today I really just handed it completely to God and said, I don't want to have it cut off. I think it unwise to spend money on having my ring cut off and then fixed and I don't want to burden the family finances even more than this medical junk already does. Lord, I need for this to come off and I just don't see how it's going to happen. And then it clicked. Something inside of me (the Holy Spirit) said, "I walk by faith and not by sight!"
So I said it a few times, "I walk by faith and not by sight, I walk by faith and not by sight. Lord, I know that you will take care of this for me." I began to turn the water temperature down colder and colder and ran the cold water over my whole arm, not just my hand like I had all the other times before.
 I called my daughter in and had her give me some lotion to smear all over my ring & my finger and I continued to pray. I prayed in my heavenly language and expected my prayer to be answered because it was a need and God's word says that if we ask, we will receive. And it says to pray expecting. I can't say that it slipped off easily but it did come off and I began to cry with thanksgiving. I was overwhelmed with joy that the God of the Universe, the God who created the sun, moon, stars, water, land, and even me had delighted in giving me what I needed.  My kids were really happy to hear that with God's help I was able to get my wedding ring off. He truly hears our cries and he provides what we need....things that are large as well as things that seem ridiculously small. Thank you Lord for caring about me and even the smallest needs that I have. Thank you for being in the big things as well. You never cease to amaze me! God sure is in the details.

Matthew 6:25-30New International Version (NIV)

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

Friday, August 7, 2015

PET Scan #3 Results

I have to keep this really, REALLY short today. Well, I want to because the kids went to stay with my parents yesterday after I was done with the PET scan and dr appointment. Soooo that means that I am home by myself and I have a few things that I'd like to be working on before they come back home. Shhh, don't tell them that we are changing their rooms around. They had suggested that Braly take the girls smaller room and that the girls go into his room. I think they did it on a whim thinking I'd say no and then when I said yes, Gabby started to change her mind. She doesn't like a lot of change but Adam & I think it might work out nicely for everyone and it will be a good change. So he helped me move their clothes last night.

I have never had a MRI done so I can't compare it to that machine but I'd say that it is probably similar. It is a tube that has a very small table that you lay on and it moves through the tube to take pictures for about 20 or more minutes. The first 2 I had done, it was very quiet but yesterday they told me that I could listen to a cd of music that they had. They inherited them from the MRI department because they got hooked up to Sirius Radio or some equivalent. Next time I'm bringing my own CD with. But it was nice to be able to kinda know how long I had left by counting the number of songs and averaging them like 3 mins a song.

There is prep for this scan. The day before the scan I am supposed to eat either low carbs (the last paper said this) or NO carbs (the newest instructions said this) all day long, high proteins and then after midnight I am supposed to fast but drink water so I'm not dehydrated. The day of the scan, I am not allowed to eat or chew gum which was annoying because that's how I've been keeping my mouth moist so I don't have problems getting sores from the chemo. And I am to wear clothing with no metal. So when I go in to have this scan done I am taken into a room, the technician either puts an iv into my arm to put the dye in or if I have them access my port, they have to call a nurse down to do it. This time I opted for the iv so it would be quicker. Then I lay on a bed for 1 hour in the quiet and dark and I'm not supposed to move much. The reason this happens is if you don't have a lot of movement, the radioactive sugar dye that is injected, will go to the sites where the cancer cells are active. I forgot to say that once they have the iv in, they take my blood sugar as well. After the cat nap for an hour, I am asked to use the bathroom and then walk into the room where the PET scan machine is. I am to lay on a very narrow platform thing, where they put a special pillow behind my knees to try to help me be comfortable and I am to hold my arms above me the entire time. They usually start falling asleep but I have to hold very still. Yesterday my left leg and hip started to tingle like they were sleeping before my arms did and I knew I was so close to finishing that I just kept quoting scripture to encourage myself that I could finish without interruption so I could be done. Because honestly, I don't know what happens, like how much it would lengthen the scan if I asked them to stop for a minute. I just wanted it finished and knew I could make it so I did with God's help.

After the scan is done, they move the platform back out of the machine and lower it and then un-tuck me from the warm blanket mess and help me sit up. There is nothing to push off of so I always let them help me. Besides, with my arms starting to fall asleep, I need help to sit up. Then the scan is done and I usually go find something to eat with Adam and then we go back for the results with the doctor.

Yesterday we saw the comparison of April's scan with yesterday's scan and though I was really hoping for nothing to show up, it was good enough results.  Yes, I'm aiming for something extraordinary in my expectations and that's ok. The 3 spots that were present in April are still there but they are much less lit up on the scan than before. A LOT lighter, which means that the chemo is working. The great news is that there are NO new spots so when Ann Arbor gets the results, they should be okay with continuing with the plan for radical modified mastectomy on August 20th like we have scheduled. Sometime today, I will have to make some phone calls to see if the scan was sent to Ann Arbor as I requested or if I have to send the copy that I received before I left yesterday.

Depending on what the pathology finds out when the surgery is performed and everything is looked at, I will know whether I am advised to have radiation on any sites as well as whether I am advised to have 3 more chemo treatments. I was not expecting to hear the doctor say that yesterday but at least I have an idea of what he's considering so I have time to process it and know how to pray. Next step, surgery and recovery.

Time for me to get breakfast and start getting some things taken care of around here while I'm only responsible for myself. I miss my kids and they are such great helpers but having a little quiet and no responsibilities is kinda nice for the day.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Prayer List

July 27, 2015

Today was the last of the chemo treatments that include the taxotere which is the harsh chemo that I had to get for 4 weeks. I have to continue getting 2 other things for a total of a year and have them every 21 days but they probably won't cause much in the way of side effects.  So I did a bit of a happy dance today at not having to have that terrible stuff anymore.

Like I said before, surgery is scheduled for August 20th and I'll be spending some extra time closer to the hospital while I recover. We won't know if I need radiation to the axillary (armpit area) lymph nodes until after the surgery and the pathology comes back. So I am asking for prayer that those lymph nodes are completely healed and will not need radiation. That would mean that I would recover from the surgery and start radiation and from what I gather, it would be a trip to Iron Mountain 5 days a week for about a 15-20 min appointment and then drive back and that would last for about a month or so depending on what the doctors would suggest and we decide to do.

I have been having swelling in my right foot and we are having a bit of a hard time determining what is the cause. Right around the time of starting the chemo treatments, I stumbled, trying not to step on a toy, I think a lego, and I did something to my foot. It started hurting across the top soon after that. And then the night before treatment #3, so about 3 weeks ago, it swelled up. I iced and elevated it for the night, even sleeping on the couch to be sure to take good care of it and the swelling went down. It swelled a few times after that but not much and the swelling always came down. The pain went away and I thought it was all good. Then the nurse that was doing the education class for the surgery asked me about the swelling of that foot and asked if I had sprained it. I told her possibly and shared the story. She said they'd be concerned if it was a blood clot and my doctor had said we'd watch it. I was to alert him if the swelling went up my leg or I got any pain up my leg. Same thing today with the swelling. I think I aggravated it by walking too much on Wed. I over did it by testing to see how much I could walk and now the top of my foot hurts again and I have been icing it and praying that it isn't a blood clot. A blood clot is pretty serious, would require blood thinners and could affect the surgery date as well as possibly cause me to have to get another chemo treatment with the strong stuff. I am not in fear of this happening but I know it is not part of God's plan for me and I want to rebuke it. The devil thinks that he can stir up more stuff by trying to throw these curve-balls at me and create fear. Well God has not given me a spirit of fear. There is no where in the Bible where it says that is a fruit of the spirit so I don't accept it. But he has sure given me a spirit of love, a spirit of power, and a spirit of a sound mind. Those I accept!

And lastly I'm gonna share some personal stuff about this journey. I may have shared this first one but wanted to say that after talking with a lot of people, I must say that the mouth sores were bad and the digestion issues I've had are not a picnic but the worst of all of the stuff with the diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer was when I started chemo and had to lock Sadie out of the bathroom while taking a shower. It is advised that for 48 hours after receiving treatment that I am extra careful with any kind of body fluid because it would contain the nasty chemo. I mean, the nurses gown up when they come into the room to administer it through the iv. So since I was going to shower, and I didn't know if I would get sick and throw up without any warning, I chose to lock Sadie out of the bathroom. She was used to sneaking into the bathroom and getting her jammies off faster and quieter than I could ever imagine and she'd be opening the shower door and coming in without barely a warning. She desperately wanted to continue this usual morning routine but I could not jeopardize her safety the day after treatment. She knocked on the door, begged for me to open the door, stuck her adorable and sweet little fingers and hands under the door and cried while asking if I was done yet every 30 seconds. It was really hard. I went into super speedy mom mode so I could get out and scoop up my precious little girl that just simply didn't understand why she was being banned from the bathroom.

This wasn't the first thing like this that was hard for me to watch happen to my children since this dx (diagnosis), you may recall that I had to stop nursing her cold turkey and even though I was physically hurting from having to do that, my heart ached more. This little girl didn't deserve this, not one little bit, and there wasn't a whole lot I could do about it except pray and ask God to fill her with comfort and peace and that she wouldn't be negatively affected by these things.  Fast forward to a few days ago when I had to explain to my children what will be happening when I have the mastectomy surgery next month. Our oldest grasped onto it quite quickly and cried and cried. She also has a very vivid imagination so I knew I needed to discuss it with her in more detail to fill in the gaps that her imagination was possibly filling in for her. She stated that she didn't want me to be different physically because of the radical modified mastectomy. When the tumor had grown to a very large size while they were trying to get the hormones under control in the beginning, every time I hugged my children, especially my oldest, she noticed the difference in size and I think it scared her. She also noticed the difference as it shrunk and she'd comment about it. It's finally gotten to a point where it is pretty much non-existent (Praise God!) but now she doesn't want that normalcy to change. Who could blame her right? I had to show her some sketches of the drains that they will be putting in and that I'll have to have cleaned several times a day and drained. I showed her a sketch of what the area will look like once it is sewed back up and healing. They gave me a book with some information about the surgery and I shared a few of the sketches so she wouldn't imagine on her own. I thought hand drawn sketches would be better than real life internet photos that could really appear kinda scary.  And then it was #3's turn to have to learn what this meant because she didn't quite get it either. She was upset about the changes in my body but I reminded her and our oldest that my grandma had a double mastectomy and never had reconstruction at her age because they didn't have the plastic surgeon available the day she had the surgery and that they hugged her and never really knew a difference until we had talked about it recently and that helped them to understand that it may be a little different, especially at first but this is supposed to help. So they are working through this. I'm not quite sure how our boy is handling it. He didn't say much so I'll have to talk to him again. I've mostly talked to them individually when I quickly realized that they were at different stages of what they understood was going to happen and really they are at different stages of acceptance. I am thankful for God's wisdom in this situation and would like prayers for my husband and my children and of course myself in working our way through this with God's grace. We really appreciate your prayers.

Our prayer list looks like this:
1. Praising God for last nasty chemo treatment being done today!
2. Lymph nodes healed so no radiation needed
3. Surgery and recovery to go smoothly and quickly with no complications so I can get drains out quickly and return home sooner rather than later. Also No lymphodema infection either.
4. Stand in agreement that my right foot would be completely healed. That there would be no more swelling and that there isn't a blood clot.
5. That God would bring comfort and peace and grace for my family to walk through this part of the journey with all our trust in Him. That all fear would be removed with God's perfect love and that His truth would shine in our hearts, minds, and in our walk with Him and as examples to others.

I shared this very personal family information about what we're dealing with our children in this situation for a few reasons, I really think it needs to be bathed in prayer to help us have the strength to get through it and also because I am sure someone is going to read this and either have gone through something similar and be able to be helped, to help us or maybe someone reads this and in the near or even distant future, they may have a similar thing happen to them. I want them to know that they can trust God to carry them through any difficult situation because He is faithful and is always with us. We don't have to wait on God to show up, He is waiting on us to look to Him, to turn to Him, to call on Him. I truly believe this and my mission is to share His love with others, especially as we walk this journey. I want you to know that I am not more special to God than you are. He loves each of us the same and He wants us to know Him in a personal way and to be filled with faith and to walk our faith out, even when we are teased, when it is challenging, when it doesn't seem like anything is fair. That's when it speaks the loudest to our testament of trust in the One TRUE GOD!  Thank you for walking this journey with is and encouraging us, and lifting us up in prayer. God uses people that are willing to minister to others so needs are met and He is a God of never ending miracles!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

July 22, 2015

After talking with several people and getting the phrase, "oh, I didn't know that." I realized that I really was in dire need of updating the blog with the newest info. I'm hoping I can get it all typed and published tonight while I wait for Sadie to fall asleep. She took a nap so I might have a little while.

Last week Adam worked from 3:30am until about 3pm but on Friday, there was so much stuff going on at work that he didn't get home until almost 5pm I think. He then showered, packed, and we hopped into the van to travel to his Aunt & Uncle's house to stay a few nights. We arrived around 11pm. It was so late and I drove the whole way so Adam could try to sleep but that seemed near impossible with the amount of stops we needed to make for bathroom breaks for everyone.

We woke up a bit late and ate breakfast and then had the opportunity to check out Midland's hands on museum at their Center for the Arts. It was very cool! We all loved it. I especially thought that the computer that you could create fireworks on was neat and so was the periodic table that you could mix different elements together and get the product. such as making H2O for water and then it told a little about water. or making 2NaCl for table salt. Very neat! We did the dinosaur exhibit that had some neat things to learn too and some fun hands on things. I have pics of course but I may have to share those later in order to actually get this published tonight.

We hit up the splash pad, sooooooooooo very cool that I wish it was possible to put one in at say Royce Park in Escanaba. They had River Days in Midland that we got to watch lanterns and then fireworks for. They had live music and it kind reminded me a little of Rock the Dock in Escanaba.  We checked out their Community Center Pool area and had a lot of fun on their water slide, with their water mushroom falls, a huge water table and outdoor splash pad as well as basketball and I tried to teach the kids how to do somersaults and handstands in the water and how to not get water up your nose without plugging it while going under water. We were worn out from all that water fun but Adam & I had to head to Ann Arbor, the main reason we were downstate in the first place.

On Monday, I had to have a mammogram and ultrasound done. Then I met with the surgeon that is doing the mastectomy. She is very nice and skilled from what I can tell from when she did the biopsy back in May. We had lunch at AppleBees and then one more appointment for pre-op instructions for what to expect before surgery and how the care for after surgery. We didn't get done with the instructions until about 3:30 or 4pm and then we drove back to Midland. The kids had done a fun video of them dancing in the dark while wearing those glow in the dark necklaces and bracelets on Sunday night. It was actually quite fun looking because they each had them on differently. It was sort of hard to guess which of our kids was wearing what. There was a lot of giggling in the video which made me smile so much and laugh. Before we went back to where the kids were, we stopped at Michaels craft store and I got a new floor light to help me while cross-stitching. It should help me be able to work on my project while watching tv but not bothering everyone with overhead lights that are hard on the eyes while watching a movie. And we picked up a few things because while Morgan patches her eye, she has to work on things and I'm going to teach her how to cross-stitch. We're starting with a cute watermelon.

On Tuesday, with sad hearts, we headed back home. Our dear sweet and sensitive Morgan cried, dare I say bawled, when it was time to leave. We all enjoyed our time with Aunt & Uncle for the few days we were there and it was hard to say goodbye so instead we'll say see ya in a few weeks.

So here's the medical update of things. I go on Monday July 27th for the 4th and LAST chemo treatment. I will have a PET scan done in Green Bay, WI on August 6th and need to get the results to the surgeon in Ann Arbor, MI to be sure that it doesn't change our surgery plan.

The results from the mammogram and the u/s that was done show that the tumor in the breast has shrunk but looks like something has elongated. The Nurse Practitioner said that what they saw could have been necrosis (or the death of tissue) in the breast which can happen with chemo. They will know more when pathology comes back after surgery. They also said that no lymph nodes showed up as inflamed (I think that's what they referred to it as), which is good and shows that the chemo is working. They will have a better view of things with the PET scan in August.  Now remember that the 1st PET scan I ever had back in Nov of 2013 showed 1. the tumor in the breast, 2. the axillary lymph node AND about 20 other spots that lit up in the bones of my shoulders, spinal bones, hip bones, ribs, sternum, etc. The PET scan done in April 2015 showed only 3 spots and the rest of the bones didn't light up 1. The original tumor 2. the right axillary lymph node (probably how the cancer traveled (metastasized) to the bones 3. A new spot on the tailbone   Even though there was a new spot that we weren't pleased about, because that meant something had changed or that the meds had stopped working, we praise God that all those other spots were not lit up, they were clear, even though the doctor says it is good that they didn't light up but that we don't know what is there microscopically.  I know that God has healed those bones and that even though I am having this surgery, that God is directing my path and healing me.

The plan for the surgery is that we'll head down to drop the kids off and Aunt & Uncle's and then Adam & I will continue on to Ann Arbor and try to get a good night's sleep. I will shower and fast and then have a radial modified mastectomy with axillary lymph nodes checked out. It will be done as an outpatient and Adam & I agree that it is probably best that we sleep that night in Ann Arbor and then travel up to where the kids are the following day. We were given special care instructions for the drains that they will put in and when there is less than 30 ml of collection for 2 days in a row, we can call and go back to Ann Arbor to have the drains removed. They say it usually takes between 7 - 10 days to reach this point and I am believing that God will heal me quickly and there will be a smooth recovery. We are looking to stay within the area until the follow up appointment and then head back home in hopes that the several hour drive will be more doable for me and not cause blood clots or any other complications.

As much as this whole diagnosis and process sucks to have to deal with, we are so very thankful for how God is orchestrating the big and little things on this journey. We are blessed with so much wondering and helpful family members to make sure that all the details are taken care of, including our 4 precious cargo, I mean children. And we are also blessed with caring and loving friends who have helped feed us, watch the kids for the hours and hours that it takes for treatment, when we wanted to go on a few dates, cards and gifts of encouragement and practical things like new dish towels from all over the states, gas cards for the traveling expenses, etc. God is providing and we want to thank all who have headed his nudge to pray for us, to call, meet up with us, to help out in big and little ways. And honestly, nothing is really little. It all matters and means so much to us. So thank you all for helping us cope and keep going on this journey. You help me keep my faith strong and my eyes on God because of all the precious little things that He's taking care of and using you all to help with. Thank you!!!!!!!

I think I covered everything for this update but it is pretty late and I'm pretty tired because today I dropped my van off to have the oil changed and some work done to it and I walked back to the house. The kids and I walked to lunch and back. Then I biked with Morgan for her meeting about being baptized, and then I walked back to get my fixed van. I'm trying to get as much exercise and be as healthy as I can in this last few weeks before surgery because I won't be allowed to lift my arm above my head or lift more than 10 pounds for about 6-8 weeks. That's a long time to have to tell Sadie to climb onto my lap to get loves instead of lifting her up into my arms. Gonna be a change but we can do it.
As I was walking today and my foot was hurting and I knew I didn't have too much left to walk I did what I have been doing, I started speaking scripture out loud because it helps me remember to keep my eyes on Christ. I realized that I pushed the walking past my physical ability with my foot having issues but I did way more than I thought I could do. Trust God to help you with the BIG things and the little things. He will help things fall into place in the right way. He wants the best for you. He loves you deeply. Be open to Him and His ways. They are better than you could possibly imagine.

After Treatment #3 July 7th (published on July 22nd)

Thought it was time to give a more in depth update for everyone. I have been keeping busy with the kids and all this medical stuff this summer. And visiting with people stopping in to town for a quick visit and trying to get together with people in town for visits. The summer is in full speed but I wish I could put the breaks on and make it slow down a bit.

I had treatment #3 of 4 on Tuesday July 7th.  It went great. Felt fine during treatment and all that night. Got to visit with my dear friend when I picked the kids up after the treatment. They weren't eager to leave but a lovely lady was bringing us dinner which turned out to be like 4 meals in one. She made us so much food that we ate it twice just the way it was and then we were able to take parts of the meal and add a few things to make a completely different meal and I did that twice with my mom's help.

On Wednesday July 8th we had a busy day. We drove to Iron Mountain for a routine checkup for one of the kids and everything looks great! No shots needed for anything because I refuse to get that HPV one. I know many people have opinions on immunizations and in general, we've gotten everything that has been recommended up until this point. There is something inside of me that is not at peace with this immunization and we will not be allowing our children to receive this one.  Obviously I feel quite strongly about that.  Sorry to digress. We then drove to Felch to pick up my mom so she could help us out for a few days in case I wasn't feeling well.  We arrived in Escanaba and drove straight to the grocery store because we needed to get a cake mix and frosting to make Adam a German Chocolate cake to celebrate his 40th. I hadn't had much time to plan anything and I was not going to let his day go unnoticed if I could help it. The kids helped heat up leftovers for dinner and mix the cake so we could get it baked and frosted & sing to him. It was fluffy & moist & we took pics but they are stuck on my camera right now. lol

Thursday I woke up and felt pretty good for most of the day. I rested and fell asleep while Morgan had "Into the Woods" movie on. Glad I had seen it with the girls in the theater because it allowed me to doze off as I needed & get some rest.

Friday the 10th, it was beautiful outside and we finally had the chance to get the sunflower seeds planted after a neighbor had tilled the soil behind the garage and prepped it for us. I can't wait to see sunflowers popping up back there. Sunflowers are in my top 3 flowers and they're going to look beautiful. I sat in a camping chair with an umbrella perched above me for shade while the kids planted and watered. It was fun and I got to visit with a neighbor while out there.  I started to get a little tired so I rested a bit and since we've been going to the school for lunch, we did that but I had my mom drive. I also had my mom drive us to the library before closing time to turn in the kids' summer reading program stuff. They had completed all their points and we wanted to get everything entered before other things cropped up. I expect them to still continue reading but at least we aren't obligated to keep track of things. Friday was our 16th Anniversary too!  My dad came over to pick up my mom and they left after we had dinner. So very thankful for my mom to help us out. Please pray that her toe heals. She had surgery on it and has been dealing with some kind of infection and pain ever since. She's been on different meds but it hasn't cleared up yet and it can be quite painful but she did what most moms do and sucked it up and helped us anyway. Thanks mom, you're the BEST!!!!!!!!!

The kids received personal pan pizza certificates from the reading program so we decided to hit up Pizza Hut on Saturday to celebrate Adam's birthday and our 16th anniversary with some family.  After we ate, we drove over to the marina to take a look from a distance at the Nina & Pinta ships that were in the harbor. So crazy to think that people came over on those ships, they were quite small to be crossing such a vast and open water. In the afternoon, we also made a trip to Menards to purchase 2 Zero Gravity chairs for Adam & myself to enjoy in the house and the yard. Adam & I both really miss the reclining part of our couch and agree that we love the look of our current couch but oh to have the reclining position while watching movies and relaxing....that would be great!

So far, this has been the easiest treatment I've had. God has been taking good care of me. The heartburn was not near as bad this round. I did take some meds for it and had to drink one dose of apple cider vinegar to combat the burn but eating ice cream helped and the power of prayer is what did it. I didn't have near as much fatigue this time either and I was concerned that it might be worse since they build on each other. The digestion system troubles are far less this time too so I am very thankful and grateful for God's faithfulness.  And though my mouth and tongue are starting to have that rough feeling inside, I am confident that I won't have the mouth sores this time either. Chewing gum and rinsing my mouth helps but again, the answered prayers are key! I haven't had any acne either so that's nice because after the 1st time it was actually painful. I do however think that the chemo meds may be messing with my ability to process gluten and I am having to cut back on it. I may see if I can cut it out for a week and see how I feel. Anyone who has gluten issues....I really feel for you. I shaved my hair weeks ago when my head got far too itchy and I thought I was going to scratch it raw and bleeding but it never all went away. It seems as though the stuff I was losing was actually not coming from the root but breaking off from being so fragile and brittle. And though my hair is quite short and thin, it actually seems like it might be slowly growing again, kinda like my nails that I keep super short.

Next week I have a pre-op appointment in Ann Arbor. They plan on doing a mammogram as well and then will be discussing my case with a board of doctors and then they should be scheduling me for a mastectomy to happen in August. I am praying that God's hand be upon everything. When he orchestrates things to happen, they work out so melodiously that I don't want it any other way. The last round of treatment is scheduled for July 27th and then I'll have to get another PET scan done in Green Bay before surgery which should take place around August 20th.

Besides all the medical stuff going on since school ended, we attended a Girl Scout ceremony, graduation party, got my hair cut short, got my hair cut super short, shaved my hair with no guard, went to rummage sales and got great deals for clothes for the kids, found a saxophone to buy for Braly to start his 6th grade band experience, picked out a free wig, went on a date with my hubby & some friends, celebrated the adoption of my niece & had a party with family for it, celebrated father's day for an amazing daddy to my kids, 3 of my  kids were in a play that the production start to finish happened in a week, we had a Papa bear, Pixie, and Assistant Director that put in 32 hours, watched Rapunzel that the kids were in, ate nearly every day M-F at one of the schools for free, found what Sadie deems as the right wig (lighter red color and now she won't let me wear anything else), attended church at the park a few times on Wed nights, had my phone get used for all sorts of silly pics on more than one occasion (it's actually quite funny to scan through the pics sometimes), found a great game table for way less money than if we'd bought at a store and got it for Braly's birthday, found a great deal on a new bike for Morgan who has been content with a used bike for years, loved seeing her ride her new bike and be thankful for it, it has a speaker connector inside a pouch for an MP3 player, the kids have been doing activities pertaining to Heroes for the summer reading program, Morgan made a Lego Hero that is on display at the library, attended the Petting Zoo, met up with a former roommate from college, toured the Public Safety with some friends from church, kids tried on equipment and sat in fire truck, I held the belt of the officer to see how heavy it was, had cousins and Auntie visit for a few days, watched Inside Out at the theater, ate lots of popcorn and drank pop, had water balloon fights, went to the eye doctor for 4 appointments and then picking up new glasses,
cleaned up the weeds behind the garage in hopes of planting sunflowers, neighbor tilled behind garage and prepped it for planting, kids rode around in the kid truck we got for Braly's 5th birthday 6 years ago, visited Animal shelter with cousins & Aunt and played with 2 kittens and a puppy, then fed some of the bigger dogs some treats, visited the Sheriff office and received Frisbees, sheriff stickers, and the kids got to climb in the cars, turn on lights, the siren, and ask questions about all the buttons in the cars, the kids got to help try to name the wooden carved dogs at the lighthouse, celebrated Independence Day with breakfast in Felch and then parade where the kids received half a walmart bag of candy, then had dinner, pool fun and fireworks with family & friends, put a flag on Papa's grave to honor & remember his service, celebrated a 40th birthday, 16th anniversary, met up with another former college roommate, turned in all the points for 3 kids worth of summer reading program, received ice cream treat, personal pan pizza, and entries into drawing, Gabby won the Where is Buzz Lightyear hiding for last week, had Pizza Hut with family, saw the Nina & Pinta ships in Escanaba harbor, made it to the beach for a few hours, ran into old neighbors at the beach and stayed longer than we planned because we couldn't pass up a nice visit, made a sand castle, listened to Sadie say, "this is the BEST day EVER!" several times while at the beach and she asked on Monday if we thought it was the best day ever yesterday. Watched my son get excited and have fun cooking dinner for the family after I made him do it. Watched my son help his sister in the water at the beach. Watched my daughter help her sister get her Puddle Jumper life jacket tightened so they could play in the water. Watched my family work together to make a neat sandcastle and then not get upset when it was wrecked later. Watched my kids work together to make sure they got the dishes in the dishwasher. Watched several movies that the kids earned from getting A's in their classes. Heard my kids say, wow, this movie was way better than we thought, glad we finally gave it a try. Was told that I need to teach my kids how to cross-stitch this summer because they want to learn. Finally able to get into basement to go through junk that has piled up. Threw away 3 bags of papers (well recycled them). Threw away 3 -4 bags of trash that was stuff not worth keeping. Organized craft stuff so it isn't taking up so much real estate and downsized it. Organized school supplies and condensed so I know what we have and what we need, no more buying the wrong stuff. Went through some stuff in the playroom so I can figure out what things Sadie is interested in playing with and keep those things readily available. Went through kids clothes and took baskets of too small of stuff out so we can be on the lookout for what they have need of. Fixed air mattress (hopefully it holds). Did 4 days of PiYo with the kids. Need to keep it going. Ate another meal the kids made together. Took the kids grocery shopping and had them play "Bring Me" to get our list done quicker. Watched them work together to get all the groceries in the house and then put away together and quickly.  Looking forward to witnessing the baptism of our 3rd in a few weeks and celebrating another birthday and heading on a family road trip that will be more fun then the reason that we're actually taking the trip. I am truly a blessed woman. God has blessed me with a wonderful husband and amazing children to make a family but He has blessed me with saving grace, healing, and a different way to look at life. I'm thankful that I get to see how even the little things are filled with good, amazement, love, life, goodness. He helps me see things in a positive way. I am grateful and I am enjoying most moments of this summer and looking forward to adding more memories to our archives.

Edited July 22nd:  I wanted to add several pictures into this post but haven't had the chance to get them in here and I actually need to do another update so I'm just going to publish this as is. That's how it goes sometimes. ;)