Archive | December 2008

New Years Eve 2008

alcohol_hangover1Okay – day two following chemo went pretty well except I have had a fair amount of nausea and was really tired.  I’m not sure what made me more tired, the staying up too late after an 11 hour hospital day or the Phenergan pills for the nausea, but this photo pretty much depicts how I felt part of the day.  A sore throat set in the night before and continued most the day as well.  Cold water seems to help. I did tag along to the bowling alley where Tim and the boys had fun bowling for his birthday.  Then we came home to the most delicious meal brought by a friend from church – homemade beef briskett with all the country side dish fixin’s and home made ice cream and birthday cake!  Wow!  I enjoyed every bite since I am told I can expect my taste buds to go south in about a day or two, making NOTHING taste good.  Then we celebrated Tim’s birthday and he is happily enjoying all his new toys!  He  administered my shot  which I have to take following the 6 cycles off full chemo treatments to boost the whote blood cell count production and it stung (yeah – I was a baby about it) but maybe next time I’ll be better prepared for it.  He did it in the thigh which I thought was the best place considering it has the most fat there.  I laid down on the couch after dinner and that was the end of that – I just could barely keep my eyes open and kept falling asleep watching Everybody Loves Raymod episodes with Tim.  That was about 10 p.m. 

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good and am trying to follow some of the nurses suggestions to combat nausea – (it’s mild, kind of like mild pregnancy nausea in the first trimester as I recall)…like keeping solids and liquids separate by two hours and not laying down after eating, etc.  My next trip to the hospital is Monday where I have a 2 hour infusion of  Herceptin which is every week for a year.  Many friends have offered to drive me for these visits and I am so blessed and grateful I can count on so many people.  Tim can take me on the very long infusion days (5 more between now and late March)  which we expect to last 5 hours or so each time. 

Today is New Yers Eve and or daughter has a friend from New Mexico visiting us all week so we agreed to them having a New Years Eve party here.  This way her friends can gather all at one place, about 20 kids.  Thank goodness for that sound proof basement!

Wishing you and your a very Happy New Year filled with all the great things God has in store for you!

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First Chemo Therapy session Today

th_wecandoitposter-1 Our morning started real early, leaving the house at 6:20 a.m. for my 7:30 IV start for surgical port     installation.  That is a small incision on the underside of my arm where an access catheter/portal is placed under the skin so they won’t have to stick my veins for the next year!  The genetcist’s nurse came down and got my blood for the genetic testing to go forward, sice she wasn’t able to get blood out of my rolling veins Monday last week. The anesthesia for this morning’s surgery  didn’t work for some weird reason, so I was never sedated….awake , alert, talking about our kids, colleges, music, fully normal conversations for the whole surgery but only felt the lidocaine injections (like at a dentist) and no real surgical pain until that wore off a couple of hours later.  They gave me Mortrin for it and ot seems to cover the pain okay. . And by the way, the prayers worked!  IV started very first try and I cried tears of JOY! Hope I didn’t scare Roman, my big burly nurse-man.  He was the guy who was unable to get me sedated. He was very kind though.   Next Tim & I  walked up to the chemotherapy suite and I was given a bed, the only one in the room, all other patients were in chairs/recliners.  The infusions I have  consist of three bags and some nasty side effects . They prep me first with bags infused with anti-nausea drugs and oral meds for allergic reactions that could occur, steroids,  and they take double the time putting them into you to be sure you tolerate them well..one bag took 3 1/2 hours to drip in!  The others about 90 minutes each so we didn’t leave until 6:15 p.m. What a long day.  My nausea actually went away as asoon as Tim brought back Subway sandwiches and chips and a Snickers bar!  There were so many instructions given, videos to watch on various precautions and such (ease of developing infection as white cells drop in the next few days) as well as video on how to administer a shot I have top give myself tomorrow – I think I can really do this myself now!  I’d rather hurt myself than have someone else hurt me with a shot!  They sent me home with a boat load of drugs to take on certain days at certain times and I should probably keep a good log of all of it and have Tim check and double check me.  We learned that one of the drugs I have to get (Herceptin) is given weekly for 52 weeks.  One down today! Just 51 to go!  It is a 1 hour infusion in the chemo suite….This drug is the only FDA approved drug to treat the particular cancer onco-gene my tumor carried called “Her2Nu”.  That can be given along with the other 5 treatments of chemo I will have over the next 18 weeks as well.  SO much to learn! So many trip to walter Reed and many rides needed so anyone with free time on a Monday or Wed. for about 4 hours just let me know! The long day infusion days Tim will take me to.

I also learned today after further research in my family history, that of my father’s two aunts who died of breast cancer 50 years ago when they were under 40, one had two daughters (now in their 70’s) and BOTH had breast cancer a few years ago.  I am more anxious now than ever to get my genetic results back January 23rd!

Well it has been a long day but one better than I expected (and a delicious donated dinner and bottle of wine to come home to as well! Thank you Kathy!) and may prayers felt coming my way so I say Thank you ! More to come as side effects set in over these next few days. I’ve been warned!  So far just a sore throat. I expect a bit worse but who knows.


This entry was posted on December 30, 2008. 3 Comments

My Favorite Christmas Gift

My favorite gift this Christmas is this sterling silver bangle bracelet from my husband, Tim.  It says:   “”God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, COURAGE to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”  COURAGE – I’m asking God for an extra dose of that right now. Courage to change things I can means to me, making a difference in the lives of people.   SO many have done that for me.  When I want to lay down in pity, I need courage to stand strong.   When I feel like fear is closing in, I need to courage to know God will be by my side.  Courage to fight this fight with my head held high, and with acceptance, embrace the trial set before me knowing that God has a purpose in it.004

This entry was posted on December 27, 2008. 2 Comments

A Merry Christmas / New Year Message

 

Rick Warren (REMEMBER HE WROTE ‘PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE’) AND he has been chosen to give the invocation at Barack Obama’s swearing in ceremony this next month!  Candles in the Dark
You will enjoy the new insights that Rick Warren has, with his wife now having cancer and him having ‘wealth’ from the book sales. This is an absolutely incredible short interview with Rick Warren,

‘Purpose Driven Life ‘ author and pastor of Saddleback Church in California

In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, Rick said:

People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.

One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body– but not the end of me.

I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act – the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.

We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into an other one.

The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort.

God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.

We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.

I used to think that life was hills and valleys – you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that anymore.

Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.

And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problem s.

If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centeredness,’which is my problem, my issues, my pain.’ But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her.

It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.

Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy.

It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don’t think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease.

So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72

First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases.
Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church.

Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiativ e we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.

Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity?

Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God’s purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don’t get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn’t put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He’s more interested in what I am than what I do.
That’s why we’re called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.

God’s Blessings on you today.

 

This entry was posted on December 26, 2008. 1 Comment

My “Grown Up” Christmas List

My oncologist called me this morning to give me the directions on how we are to proceed with chemo this Monday.  I have to go to the lab the day after Christmas and get blood drawn to check my cell counts.  Then I have to pick up prescriptions I will take at home the night before my chemo therapy to reduce reactions I might have to the drugs.  It’s all becoming all too real now.  The day of chemo, (Monday), they will send me home with a shot which  Tim (or myself) can administer (yeah right!) We’ll see about that.  This is  to cause the white cell count to rise.  It goes directly to the bone marrow, causing bone pain.  “Treat it with Motrin” , he says.  That should be interesting!  He wished me a Merry Christmas and gave me his personal cell phone number to call if I needed anything.  Well, I’m trying not to think about all of that right now and want to share a particularly special Christmas song with you that I wrote down the lyrics to in our cards a few years ago….here it is in video below. I hope you listen to the words and know that I realize there are many more hurting people out there right now and it is helping me to focus on God touching THEIR lives and I hope He touches yours today too.

Click the arrow in the box below, or click HERE (Lyrics Below)  

 My heartfelt wishes to you for a very Merry Christmas with your families and those you love!

Do you remember me
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you
With childhood fantasies

Well, I’m all grown up now
And still need help somehow
I’m not a child
But my heart still can dream

So here’s my lifelong wish
My grown up christmas list
Not for myself
But for a world in need

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up christmas list

As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely
Wrapped beneath our tree

Well Heaven only knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul (only Jesus can do that! – I have learned this)

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up Christmas list

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth
Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth
(there’d be)

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, oh
This is my grown up Christmas list

This is my grown up Christmas list

 

 

This entry was posted on December 24, 2008. 1 Comment

Met with Genetic Counselor Today

il_430xn_37399457Today was a long day at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to meet with both my plastic surgeon and the genetic counselor.  Lucky me!  George W. Bush was visiting the troops today at the hospital so the whole place was crawling with secret service agents and guards at every turn.  Many elevators were closed and detour hallways were used to direct patients to their appointments.  I heard that he even got an MRI there – bet he’s glad I got that place cleaned up and in tip top shape a few weeeks ago!  Ha!  Tim came on the metro train to meet me for the session with the geneticist.  I found out that not every breast cancer patient there is automatically given the test for the genetic mutation (it is very expensive).  You must meet a series of given risk factor criteria  first.  Because my father is an only child (we don’t know if  he may have had a sister with it) , and because he had two aunts (both paternal and maternal) die of breast cancer in their late 30’s, and because I developed breast cancer at a young age, and two different types, both lobular and ductal, I meet the criteria.  He then took me into a blood draw room where two different nurses attempted to get my blood, but the veins kept rolling and they finally gave up.   Since I am having a port installed Monday morning before my chemo therapy begins, they said they will come there and retrieve the blood test from the port which has a two way valve.  I should get the results around the 3rd week of January.  The results, if possitive, indicate that I am at a 50% higher risk of developing breast cancer again, and a significant risk of developing ovarian cancer.  Most doctors recommend, at the very least, the removal of the ovaries.  Our children and immediate female relatives would be at risk as well, and would be recommended tested in their twenties.  These tests also help researchers learn how far back a family history carries.  My feeling is that information is power, and what we choose to do with that information once we have it gives us a sense of control.  Surprisingly, though, only 7% of the breast cancer population carries the genetic component.

This week we have  a house full of college students while we try and prepare for Christmas Day, they are planning for the funeral of a friend. We fed 8 of them dinner tonight and now have about 15 in our basement drinking hot chocolate <-here’s a photo of the mugs they brought up after I had gone to bed to let them soak – what great kids! ) and gathering together to comfort each other following the candlelight vigil, and trying to feel a sense of family.  It is a week of reflecting upon what matters most and being there for anyone who needs a shoulder to lean on, including the sister of the teenaged victim .  It is a good distraction for me facing chemo in just 7 days, a way to give and “care for” while I still can.

Artwork by Barking Bird Art at Etsy.com

This entry was posted on December 23, 2008. 2 Comments

Are you listening?

whyfor On three separate days this week, I have been out and about, doing Christmas shopping,running errands and such…like we all do…and on three different days I saw  license plates that have “spoken” to me.  Remember when I told you that back in September that I saw two bumper stickers two days after my biopsy, one that said “Do Not Fear” and another that said “God Will Provide All You Need”?    Well, it was that very day when I needed those words, and I was convinced God was trying to get through to me.  This week the messages were on cars (I wish I’d taken photos) as follows:

PRAYMOR

GR8FUL

B-HMBLE

Whoa!  It’s as if God can just reach down and come into our  busy Chrismassy – crazy lives and speak to us right where we are even if we aren’t making enough time for Him!  I know I fret more than I pray and He is telling me I need to stop the worrying and start asking Him for what I need (I worry about chemo starting on time so I can finish in time to get to my parent’s anniversary party in mid May and I worry about losing my hair and how that will make me feel).  I need to stop my pity party (much as I feel I’m entitled somedays) and start being thankful for everything He has done and is doing in my life, and to count all that I have as blessings from Him.  Then I need to remember that He is God, and of all He asks of us is quite simple :  Micah 6:8 in The Bible says it all –

“He has shown you, O man, what is good. 
And what does the LORD require of you?
       To act justly and to love mercy
       and to walk humbly with your God.”

These three messages were ones I needed to hear this week, and it just so happened I was looking and listening.   Look around you while you get through this final week before Christmas and see if God has a message for you too – are YOU listening?

This entry was posted on December 19, 2008. 1 Comment