Saturday, October 31, 2009

Anniversary celebration

Monday November 2 is our wedding anniversary, and next week is a daily "doctor/blood letting/chemo/chemical infusion" week; ( I guess chemotheraphy is kind of like childbirth--time erases the memory and how bad it really was)Now I am saying "well, I guess it won't be so bad, and maybe I won't really be so sick" and John is looking at me like I am feeble minded and saying things like "it was really horrible, don't you remember?" All this to say, we celebrated our anniversary today instead of Monday. John took me to a wonderful old hotel in town--the Hermitage, built in 1910, and restored in 2002 to beyond its' original glory...really a magnificent landmark here. We had a delicious brunch in the dining room and walked around the hotel, looking at old pictures, seeing the "rest rooms" which have won awards for the "best in the US".. then spent the rest of the day, shopping and just doing whatever came to mind...It has been a great anniversary day. I am really not feeble minded, just in denial, dreading the start of this round of chemo again. The first set, I said "never again", even had my port removed then when the cancer came back, the doctor said it would be sad to just sit back and die, so here we went again; so for the third chemo, here I am again. Sorry if I am being repetious; when you have cancer, the things you do to stay alive kind of become focused on your mind. I thought I had gotten through the crying spells after the surgery but today, I find myself almost "teary", not quite...I have to stay focused and positive, strong and full of faith. Somedays this is easier than others. I know I have an out-of-this-world husband and family, church and friends praying and being available for whatever needs I have. Deut. 31:6, taken out of context, yet the words are comforting (I have read that the Bible says more about "do not be afraid" than any things else!!) Anyway, this says "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or terrified--I will never leave you or forsake you." So, I will wipe away those tears, put on rose colored glasses, and gear up for the treatments on Monday... and look forward to next year's anniversary!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Whatever your hand finds to do---

Today has been an unusual day---stay at home!!!What a treat, to not leave the house, to "piddle", sew on a grandaughter's dress, listen to music, read a little...Friends call and ask if I am able to do things, and I am surprised that others think I cannot do for us/myself. At this point, I am still fully functional, doing housework, cooking, running errands, sewing and doing all the household things and I wonder, "do I look that sick?". Last night was the weekly art class I go to (oil painting) and this is one of the highpoints of my week. I really think most people hear the words "cancer" and "chemo" and assume I am in the bed, and by next week, I may be there!! But for now, life is nearly normal, except that food is not "good to the taste", has a metallic taste and I am sure this is due to the experimental chemical. It is difficult to plan meals if nothing sounds good, but John and I have not lost any weight so I think we are doing ok with food. I am being careful to not hug anyone at church, and hope to stay away from flu; after next week, my white cells count will probably go down, making me more vulnerable to germs. So what a nice day, which I will probably end up with some cross stitch, doing as Ecclesiates 9:10 says, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might."

Thursday, October 29, 2009


My older son calls me more often than he used to--something about worrying that "mama might not be here as long as I thought she would" or something like that...anyway, I am enjoying it thoroughly for whatever reason! He always has words of wisdom for me and I appreciate his knowledge and his encouragement. Today, he observed that the doctors would only give the experimental chemical to those they felt would benefit the most and those who would probably give the best "performance"...makes sense, because they certainly want the best outcome for their drugs!!That was encouraging to me, because I ,of course, want to be one of their success stories!!! The oncologist had told me earlier that the fact that I had been successful with two prior chemos meant that my body might be likely to respond to another chemo. We are counting on that, along with the many prayers that friends tell us every day they are offering to God on my behalf. I can tell that the chemicals are making a difference on my body--nothing really bad, just a feeling of malaise, just not my best , yet I don't sleep well at night. You would think when one feels a little "poorly" that sleep would come easily and last a long time--not so. I wake often during the night and have lots of intercessory prayer time for family and friends.So I am trying to persevere, as in James 1:2-4....."--Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything." So I am hanging on...........................

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Wait for the Lord"

Psalm 27:14 says "Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."...I think the repetition is an emphasis to which we need to pay attention. Today as I sat and waited for blood to be drawn, then waited for a shot to give some relief to side effects of the pre-chemo chemical, I watched many cancer patients, all coming with hope, and despair, on their faces. Tears came in my eyes as I saw the ones who visibly pushed themselves to be there, to receive a few drops of hope in the chemo , to live a few more days and months, my realizing the resiliency of the human spirit. I wonder if I will be one of those who push themselves to the utmost limit. I and my family and friends are praying for a miracle, as I am sure, many of those today are doing...We have to "wait for the Lord" and for His plan, for His purpose for each of our lives. Today was a good day, lots of things to be done, nearly a normal day. I am sure that will not always be true, so today was fun!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Long Day at Sarah Cannon Cancer Ctr.

We left home at 7 am and got back home after 4pm---long day....blood letting, chemical infusion (not to be confused with chemotheraphy) and two heart tests. Heart problems seems to be the major side effect of the experimental chemical. How blessed and fortunate I am to be able to have this chemical and this chemo...Just think how many thousands all over the world do not have this blessing. We (John and I) had a private "room" for the day, TV/VCR at our disposal, cold drinks and coffee whenever we want them, nurses who really care and do all they can to make me comfortable, and doctors/PAs available to talk to. We have wonderful health care that also takes care of our needs--expensive, but worth every penny! I may complain and talk about how tired I am, and how weary of treatments, but "let's face it", with this care and God's blessings, I have lived 5 1/2 years longer than nature would have dictated. So I am home and gloriously thankful for all this day has afforded. Tomorrow is another "lab" day--blood letting! So we will see how that goes. "And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

Monday, October 26, 2009

Waiting and feeling "poorly"

If you are "older" you can remember when people (usually older people) would say they felt "poorly"...I guess that is a good description of how you feel when nothing is really wrong, you just don't feel like you could do anything you want to do. So this is how I have felt today--slightly out of sorts. I have kept busy, and never am bored. I used to say (when I was teaching) that I could have a month of snow days and never run out of something to do. Alot of friends say they would not or could not do Facebook...I had such a nice surprise today-- a friend of my children's (from way back) found me on Facebook and wrote such a wonderful "letter" and this just made my day. What a fun way to find old friends and stay in touch with new friends...I have not seen this "child" in 40 what joy!!So my day ended up not so "poorly" and tomorrow comes soon and the anticipated second infusion will be given and we shall see how it reacts. I have had more sickly feelings than I was supposed to from this first one so I am ready to see how the second one reacts. then the anticipated chemo is to be started a week from tomorrow. A friend sent me a set of Bible verses in a holder--such a nice surprise and one of these verses is just for me today: "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are numbered. Don't be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:7

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Autumn Day in the Country

"The Lord is near, to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth." Psalm 145:18... What a glorious day in the country---trees of gold, red, russets, with green pines interspersed, cool, but sun shining...and family together, all ages, enjoying each other and God's creation. Children getting to touch cattle, to see a new born baby calf and rub his back, and then all of us enjoying a meal together. Just think of the small graces and gifts from God we take for granted, the miracles of daily living we toss aside as normal days and never think of what gifts they are! Maybe when life may be limited by illness the occasion comes to really, really appreciate the mundane, to look at what we daily do and see these tasks as special, the ability to do this work as true gifts from God. As I feel the experimental chemicals doing their work in my body and feel not as well, I am even more "frantic" and that is not good, as God tells us to "not be anxious"...but there is so much I need to do and wonder when, if, how, why, and all these things-- that would mar this wondrous autumn day.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I sold my loom!

Today was traumatic!!I had learned to weave when I was working on my MS and weaving became the emphasis of my Masters degree. I immediately purchased a Loom (machine on which to weave) and I have enjoyed doing this for a long time--about 27 years. I have made rag rugs, overshot weavings for table runners, and even a bedspread. It is very sad to think I will never do this again, to know that this phase of my life is over. There was always a plan to make more rugs, even do another spread, like the coverlets seen in antique shops, more baby shawls...but life moves on and plans do not always work out. John and I need to "downsize" more and move into smaller quarters, enabling life to be simpler no matter whether I live or not. So this is part of the down sizing..the loom is gone to a very good family (that helps me not be as sad) and they will enjoy using it as much as I have.. "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Friday, October 23, 2009

Date Day

Today was just an ordinary day (in the life of a cancer patient) and we went for my morning blood-letting.....then we forgot that anything was wrong and had our pretty usual Friday "date day". When we retired and quit working (outside the home), we realized after a few months that life has a way of just consuming each of us. You can get so busy doing "things", good things, worthy things, necessary things....and lose each other in this chaos of doing. We realized that the first priority for us is each other (after the first priority of God in our lives, of course). We set aside Friday to be our day for each other, even if we do nothing but work in the yard. We usually eat lunch out, we used to go to movies but find hardly any good ones anymore. Sometimes we go to small towns around middle Tennessee, look for antiques, small collectibles, go to state parks, just anything to be together and shut out the world for that day. We do our best "planning ahead"---even if we never carry out some plans--it is fun to sit and make lists of what we dream of doing, places we dream of going to, ideas for projects at home or for family. We have several small trips --2-3 day trips that involve playhouses and only a few hours drive from here, and those are always fun. We love driving to see family, although that involves more time and planning. So for most of today, we forgot that next week will get here and more "stuff" to endure (which I do in order to hope and pray it will work and kill this cancer). I don't mean to be negative, but I do need to "vent" occasionally--I hate the cancer but I love life and family and if this is what it takes to be with family longer then I am willing to do whatever it takes!! This is John's favorite verse: "This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It is easy to Forget I have cancer!

Except for going and having blood drawn every day, it is easy to forget there is cancer lurking inside my body! I am sure (remembering how bad the chemo has been in the past) that in two weeks, I will be VERY aware. For now, though, staying busy, doing the ordinary things, I feel very normal and very healthy. Maybe the scans were wrong!!Maybe the surgery was a mistake, a bad dream!! No, that is not again, my mind is wandering. John and I were talking about our parents, grandparents and how we always remember things they used to say, and wonder if anyone will say about us, "remember when Grandma used to say-----?" or "remember how Pops used to ---"? We will never know. John's Dad used to say "if you have a roof over your head and food to eat, you are blessed", or "if you have time, I have a five-minute job for you" (of course, the job often took five HOURS..) He was an interesting and dear person. He was one of six children from Alabama, left the farm life at age 17 and went to telegrapher's school. Then World War I started and he went in the Navy. He used to tell us how their ship went thru the Panama Canal in 1917, when it was fairly new. He wanted to be a lawyer and we still have his law books, but the depression "happened" and he went to work for the L&N Railroad and worked there until he was 79 years old---longer than anyone ever had worked there. He was such a fine christian man. One of his favorite recommendations for raising boys was to have them move a pile of rocks then move it back...keep them busy!!!This must have worked for he raised two fine sons. So this tribute is to "the Judge" as everyone called much loved father-in-law. So today, we "Praise ye the Lord--Blessed is the man that fears the Lord, that delighteth greatly in His commandments." Psalm 112:1

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Rough Day

Today was not so long as yesterday, nor did I receive the pre-chemo chemical, but today was a "draw-the-blood day" and it started off wrong, and circumstances which I hope do not repeat themselves, caused the nurse to draw blood 3 times an hour apart, from more than three "Sticks"....I was in tears, and do not want this day repeated!!I feel sometimes, that I have had more pain in the last five years particularly, than I ever want again!!Then I see a child with cancer, and feel, I can do anything! The next two days involve only one blood sample each day, so, not so bad. The next week is another story.
So, this is an emotional week and when I get emotional, I tend to think more of Johny and his life. He was about ten years old when we finally had a diagnosis for his problems and his future hopes. We had tried public schools kindergarten, which did not work out, private day care, which was expensive, finally was able to get him in public school; there was only one then, just for EMR (educable mentally retarded) in downtown Nashville. It amounted to mostly just day care--he learned very little. Johny had been diagnosed as "brain-damaged" which meant that at some point, before or right after birth, part of his brain was somehow compromised, leaving him perfectly normal partly and ,in his case, unable to read or write or comprehend numbers--reasoning ability.
We found a wonderful school in Chattanooga--Orange Grove--which was a private/residential/assisted workshop/which taught him to be as self supporting as was possible in his case. He went there at age 12 and lived there until he died at age 29. To "put a child out of his home" is probably the most traumatic happening in a parent's life, except the death of a child. The first year we brought him home one weekend a month and took him back that Sunday night and left him crying, and me crying as we drove away. Gradually he learned to ride the Greyhound bus home and grew attached to the boys in the school/home there and really was acclimated to being there. He had integrity, was honest, was very social, happy, and he "grew" in every way to the utmost of his ability. He loved all and we loved him so much---everything I have done, and am, is due to him and his influence on me. I think all the family feels the same way, as to his influences on us. Because of him, I went to college at age 34, receiving a BS and MS degrees, taught school for 14 years, quitting after his sudden death. I suffered much guilt for the decisions we had to make for our home, for Johny and for our other children. Gradually I realized we really had done the best we could for him. Every child deserves the chance to be as self sufficient as possible.
Through all these happenings in our life, John and I feel God has been with us and is guiding us. We were reading John 11:4 today and read where Jesus said "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God" Of course He was referring to Lazarus. However the commentary written by J. Vernon McGee about the book of John in the Bible,said "nothing will come into our lives without His (God's) permission and if He permits it, it will be for His Glory."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Good day

This was a very long day, from 8 am until after 5 pm...with a bag of chemicals given through my "port" and 12 vials of blood drawn at various times during the day, from an access in my arm. This blood drawing was done every 5 minutes, then 15 minutes, then 30 minutes, then 1 hour, etc. to see how my body used the chemical. This was a long day, because of the waiting. Also, at 1:00, I had another heart echo cardiogram to see if any damage had been done so far. There were also two EKG's. And again I had to sign my life away, reading all the side effects that COULD occur. There will be several long 10 and 12 hour days in the weeks to follow, then slow down to just one or two days a week.It is very complicated but I am sure it will become routine. So far, today there were no side effects for which I am very thankful! We are so blessed to have a fabulous cancer treatment center in our city--The Sarah Cannon Cancer Center, a gift donated by our own Minnie Pearl.
Tomorrow will be a shorter day, more of the same, just not so much "blood-letting". Reading the protocol given to me, the consent paper says "this is the first time that "AZD7762" has been given to human subjects....that is me..a human subject!!Is that exciting? when the "Irinotecan" is added to this first drug, there is much hope for ridding the body of cancer!! I have to have this hope! Reading "The Messenger" again today, in Psalm 86, I read "But you, O God, are both tender and kind, not easily angered, immense in love, and you never, never quit. So look me in the eye and show kindness, give your servant the strength to go on, save your dear, dear child!---As you, God, gently and powerfully put me back on my feet."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Finally got here!

From Psalm 130 in "The Messenger": "I pray to God-my life a prayer-and wait for what He'll say and do. My life's on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning." So today finally got here, nearly two months from the CT that said the cancer was back with a vengeance! I have been through the surgery that changed my life forever with an ileostomy, and been through the two aborted attempts to stop the cancer, so now begins the third attempt. The CT was last week and I had to wait these three days to hear the results (unusual because my oncologist usually reads it that same day and gives the results, but this was a hurry up and work in the CT. I started today with an echo heart cardiogram, which turned out to be very good, then two EKG's which also were very good. Then the CT told us that the cancer has not grown any extra in the lower pelvis, only the small growths in my liver, which we knew about. Two of these had grown some, but that did not seem to be too bad . This is wonderful news since the cancer grew so fast from April to August. I feel God is watching over me and has His hand on me, I cannot attribute this news to anything but answer to prayer. I have not finished my "whatever I have to do" on earth yet. The Doctor told me, that as long as there is optimism, I will do very well...when there is no hope, death comes very quickly. God and I are very determined to stop (at least for a while) this cancer and He will receive the Glory forever, Amen! Tomorrow I will have the experimental chemical run in my veins, then blood tests every two hours to see how my body is accepting it. I pray for a good day, little or no nausea and the ability to take this and maybe help someone else in the long run. I am trying to be very honest in this blog, so that anyone who reads it--who has cancer can identify with me, if a family member has it, you can better understand their emotions... no matter how strong my faith wants to be, I cry very easily, and get very emotional easily. I think it has to do with seeing how fragile life is and how we take so much for granted...I hope someone is along with me on this journey..

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Family Time at another church

Today, my sister and I attended the church where one of our nephews attends and sings in the choir there. What a joy and absolute blessing to hear them sing "You Raise Me Up" (by Rolf Lovland and Brendan Graham) and the soul-stirring words, "When I am down and oh my soul's so weary----you raise me up"--- Our nephew had a solo part and his voice just brought us to our other sister would have been thrilled to be there also. As you realize, I adore my family and want more than anything to be able to live on this earth a long time just to be with all of them. When Sister and I are together we try and remember things about parents and grandparents , each telling something the other has forgotten or did not know. We remembered how Grandma would say, "If you can sit up and take nourishment, you are blessed"...when those words sink in you realize how true, not being sick in bed, and having an appetite (which sometimes we don't think is a blessing if it is too good!). So we ate lunch together, laughed about all the antics the seven nephews and one niece managed to get into and came away thankful for times together and for family ties and love; above all,thankful for the love of God for us, His children. As Psalms 95: 1-2 says: "Come let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song." And when I am weary I know He will "raise me up".

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"The Two will become one flesh"

Tonight one of our grandaughters married her love , her intended, the one who asked her dad if he could be her husband. What a beautiful ceremony; the groom was nearly overcome with emotion, realizing the enormity of the covenant he was making. How beautiful to see Matthew 19:5-6 in the flesh: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." Of course most women (romantics at heart) will remember their own ceremony and think , if it has been a long time, how much lies in these words and how we really, really don't understand the enormity of the vow we are taking. As I prepare for another chemotherapy, and think how my husband loves me, bald, scrawny, hurting, nauseous, and know the thought of such illness never, never entered our minds when we vowed to love forever. I am so honored and blessed to have such a husband who loves me no matter what. This is the strength to carry me through. So, Monday, here I come!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Waiting for Monday and thinking back ---again

Today was the CT scan day, getting ready for the chemo to start on Monday. So again, the waiting game---waiting to see what the scan shows and "has the cancer spread more?", or "What will the doctor tell me on Monday?"...And the nurse just called and told me the heart dangers with this experimental chemo will have me doing heart echo tests about twice a I want cancer or heart failure??let me think??so while I wait, I think back over my life. It seems I do alot of that lately. I grew up in the best of times---kind of like Timmy and Lassie (I even had a big Collie/chow dog who looked like Lassie, named Sandy). We lived kind of in the country, had lots of woods behind us and Sandy and I roamed these woods...I don't guess this life style is possible today. I grew up with loving parents and became a christian at an early age. I developed the habit of Bible reading every day then and it still is part of my life today. In those early years, I never dreamed how much this "habit" would mean to me or how it would sustain me!
We married soon as I got out of high school and our first son was born nine months later. When he was two we decided I would be a stay-at-home mom and we had a second son. He was very small, almost a full term "preemie". He had viral pneumonia at six weeks, strep throat at three months, and developed nephritis, a chronic kidney disorder for the next two years. During this time, he could not eat from a spoon because of a sensitive gag reflex and all food had to be pureed and given thru a bottle. He had to take growth hormone and daily penicillin for these two years. During this time, we began to realize he was not developing normally , either mentally or in developmental skills.
In the next seven years, I had a miscarriage, my husband lost his job (and got another one), both boys had tonsils out, we had a baby girl, and were going from agency to agency, doctor to doctor, trying to get a definitive answer for what was wrong with our son, Johny. There were lots of money problems, Johny had three surgeries, we really could not afford to keep our first home, and moved into my in-laws home. They moved out and boarded somewhere for us to live there!What a gift that was!
At this point in life, I was so bowed down with guilt, which remained part of my life for many years. What had I done wrong?Why had God let these things happen in our lives when we tried to do the right things? Johny had gotten the viral pneumonia in the church nursery! So our home life deteriorated, our children had few friends over, they fought constantly, especially when Johny realized his younger sister was advancing ahead of him in every way. Going to church was pretty disastrous---I lived in the "cry room". Johny was like a two year old for about 8 years. Family outings were nearly impossible, then we discovered camping. This was our mecca, our salvation for family togetherness. We and several other couples - good friends- camped for 30 years...This was where the chidren could be turned loose and they roamed the woods, building our family togetherness and their love of nature.As I wait for the "fun to begin" ...I can go on with my life as I remember it--for now, Phil. 4:6 says" Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God"...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Time Together

My sister and I spend as much time together as possible---always have, and the three of us did when our other sister was alive. About 20 years ago my daughter started a small home business, sewing, decorating, designing for homes, she was partially educated for this and learned the rest through experience. When I quit teaching about that time, I started working with her and we worked in basements, attics, spare rooms, you name it---today, she finally has a SHOP and we are so proud of her accomplishments. I am also gratified and happy over the years we have spent together building this business. Now my sister is working with us also, and this completes the feeling of family working together. Sister and I have "worked" doing crafty things over the years (lots can be done with styrofoam, straw and pine cones) and now we are working with my daughter in this business. The main joy in life is being together with family, taking time to talk and remember..I remember things my sister does not by being older..I had an advantage of being the only grandchild for nine years--lots of fun--so I had time with parents and grandparents listening to their talk (people used to sit on porches in the evening and just talk) and I learned so much about family listening to them and just being together with them . As I grew up, Saturday was not date night but family night and our family spent lots of time together, picnicing, swimming, hiking, having friends over for dinner. So now I spend time with my sister and she feels afraid for me, for our time together, for what the future holds. I start part of my preparation for the chemo tomorrow--a CT scan, and then on Monday a heart Echo Cardiogram, blood work then start the "good stuff" on Tuesday. Any time with family is precious, is a time to "hold onto", to file away in your memory and think, "will I remember the sight, sensations of this day?" I found a favorite verse for today..."Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness" Lamentations 3:22-23. Time with family, time with our Lord, time to enjoy each day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Waiting and Thinking

Sometimes thinking is dangerous---the kind where you wake up and your mind won't shut off and you hear the clock strike several times, and so on and so on---When I was younger my mother in law would talk about "things she thought about in the middle of the night"...I thought that was so funny. With three young ones I NEVER woke up to think about anything unless a child was sick, just hit the bed and "die" until the alarm went off. Well, let me tell you, the thinking in the middle of the night must be an "older thing" and I am definitely in that category now. Especially with thinking about treatment coming up and how I will feel, and does my wig still look good and will I lose weight/gain weight?...the important stuff...I guess trying to not worry about will it work and will it kill the cancer cells. My mother used to talk aboaut how our family had lots of ancestors who were so strong, and that we were strong and could get through anything. She especially liked to tell about great grandmother Eliza (my great-great grandmother) and her experiences during the Civil War. You who are from north of the Mason Dixon Line, may observe we southerners still like to "reminisce" about this time---can't help it, it is in our blood! Anyway, grandmother Eliza looked out the door of her Kentucky farmhouse and saw a group of Yankee soldiers coming up the walk. She immediately invited them in, went out and killed some chickens, fried it with all the good things that go with fried chicken and fed them well. Needless to say, they were appreciative and left her with many thanks and did not raid her farm. So Mama always said we have that same backbone of strength. I hope so. I also claim the strength of Jesus as Romans 15:13 says: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit"...This is where my trust is.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Going to Plan C

Today was Oncology day...and the doctor decided the cancer is advancing rapidly and we should not wait the 6-8 weeks involved in the liver chemo and go ahead with the "full-body chemo". This is the third of plans proposed for treating this cancer ---this growing entity within my body that is NOT supposed to be here!! Part of this treatment is experimental and part of it is already approved. There are some serious side effects as with all chemo treatments...and yes, I will lose my hair again. The first time I cried--very traumatic--then the second time, I just wanted to get the buzzcut and get rid of the falling out hair...I guess that will be my reaction this time, so the wig comes out of the closet and here we go again. As we prayed fervently for God to guide the doctors and for the perfect chemo to be found, this one has less side effects than some of them. I will have low blood counts, digestive problems and they will watch for heart problems...but no neuropathy, and that is good. So life will pretty much be consumed with going for chemo, blood work, ekg's, and praying I will not have too much weakness and can function at a near-normal pace. So we have to be ready to switch plans at a moment's notice and be ready to do what it takes to stay alive. Life is exciting and the ministry that this blog is helping promote, starts tomorrow night 5:30-6:20 in the Comfort Zone House behind our church. It is for cancer survivors, families and those who are suffering. "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever"..Ephesians 3:20-21

Monday, October 12, 2009

Looking Through Treasures

Zephaniah 3:17 Says, "The Lord your God is with you---he will quiet you with His love, he will rejoice over you with singing"... This verse really has no relationship to what I decided to write about today except that it is one of my favorite verses, indeed one of my "treasures". With this cancer recurrance, and being a little more unsure about the future (which none of us know anyway), we are trying to sell our home and move in with one of our children, to make it easier for them to provide care for either or both of us. As we sift through our treasures and try to decide what to keep and what to get rid of, lots of remembrances come to light. I discovered some "ration books" from the 1940's. For those of you who are much younger than 70+, this means little. During World War II, many products were rationed and to buy these items, each family had ration books--pages of stamps which were torn out when a particular item was bought. You could not buy that item again until the next period of new ration books. These items included shoes, gasoline, certain canned foods, dry cleaning service, sugar, tires, cigarettes, and so on. Even the colored dye on the cigarette packages were removed and plain packaging replaced the colors. Children "balled up" the foil from chewing gum sticks and made big balls of this "metal" for the war effort. I can remember my grandfather obtaining an extra 5 pounds of sugar on the "black market" and how excited we were for this and Christmas baking. We hid the sugar until we got to use it! During this time period my dad was in Europe for two years and we moved in with my grandparents...I can also remember cereal boxes with all the US aircraft on the boxes so we children could identify all our country's airplanes. Lots of memories and many more treasures to go through and pass on to the next few generations.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Back to Sunday School

I had missed four Sundays from church..I attend a ladies' Sunday school class, all ages, so very supportive, prayer warriors all! The have kept me lifted up with wonderful cards, calls, food, prayers and the knowledge that they all believe "our God is able" and that healing is within His realm. This is the difficult part. I mentioned earlier that my middle sister died of cancer seven years ago. We (and all our family, her church family, friends ) had prayed so fervently for her healing. This was not to be.I totally believe in God's timing and plans for our lives, purposes and His will. I believe this more so than before her death. I believe this in regard to my life. It is impossible to pray so hard and then OUR wants not be met to then not believe that God's will is the important will and that He sometimes says "no" to our desires. This is where we have to stand firm in our inner beliefs and KNOW that even when God says "no" to our earthly desires, He knows best for our futures. I am struggling with being who he wants me to be and not being afraid and being ready for whatever His will is in my life.
"Oh, Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?" Psalm 139:1-7

Saturday, October 10, 2009

OK Back to reality

I have ignored the "gorilla in the room long enough...I am reading back in the small journal I kept during the first set of chemo treatments..the red cell shots, the white cell shots (sorry about the unscientific labels), the going back to the hospital for bags of blood and bags of platelets, the arthritis beginnings in all my joints, losing part of my hearing....this is the price of being alive. I am so glad I did it although at the time, I wondered if I would make it. The second set of chemo 3 years later was a different type, and different side effects, not quite as debilitating, but tough nevertheless. So here I am facing a third and fourth types of chemo, dreading and wondering if it will work...wondering what it is like to have it fail and how does one die...just fade away?? Well, I cannot go there, that would be to admit defeat and I am not a defeatist. My radiologist doctor called yesterday and we now have a plan since the first idea for the liver chemo did not work. I will go to the hospital in about 2 weeks from now and have an arteriogram type tubing deliver chemo directly into half my liver. It is called chemo embolization. I will stay there 3 days, so it must be fairly painful. Then 3 weeks later, a repeat for the other half of my liver. This is supposed to kill any tumors and stray cells in my liver. I am sure this will be followed by a scan and if any cancer cells remain, there will be a repeat. Then the oncologist will start a chemo for the other cancer remaining in my abdomen. Sounds like it will be a "fun" winter!! I keep reminding myself to "Do not let your faith rest on man's wisdom but on God's power", I Cor. 2:5....and I am so blessed to have God send these wonderful, knowledgeable doctors to treat and heal.

Friday, October 9, 2009

My other Grandmother

My Dad's mother was a teacher, as was Daddy's father...and that side of the family has been for 5-6 generations, through Daddy for a while, both his brothers, myself, and now our oldest son. I guess it must be in the blood, or a gene that insists on pushing itself to the front of all us various family members. This grandmother, Mama B, was widowed at a young age and finished raising her three boys to be wonderful men. I remember them telling how they would pick blackberries and Mama B would make Cobbler in a large metal dishpan! Can you imagine how those boys must have eaten!!She was a woman ahead of her time. During the great depression, she started a school/boarding house for young women in part of Appalachia, teaching them to make handicraft items to sell, making them of local "found" products. One was a necklace made of walnut "slices", varnished and strung on a leather thong. Another was similar using dry shelled corn. Nylon had just been invented and they used narrow strips of nylon and wove squares of this and sewed purses, lined, with a zipper, handles, etc. I still have one of these. I treasure Mama B's industriousness, ingeniuity and her ability to make her way in a very difficult time.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Remembering Grandma

My sister and I were talking today about how God gives us strength for each road in this journey of life. Her husband has recently passed away and she is the youngest of us "girls". We decided, that even with our wonderful parents that Grandma was one of the deciding factors in the strength of our life fabric. We were raised next door to one set of grandparents. Our Dad's parents died quite young and we never knew Papa B, and I knew Mama B until I was 9 and she also died and my youngest sister never knew her. So we grew up close to these other grandparents who were tremendous influences on our lives.
Grandma never drove a car. She was contented in whatsoever state of life she was in and lived to be 98. At age 90 she still lived as a widow in her own home, took in boarders and asked the roofer (on installing a new roof) "is there a 20 year guarantee on this roof?"
She gardened, taught Sunday school, sewed, mowed her grass with a PUSH mower, kept chickens and sold the eggs, and sang hymns as she did her work. I never heard her talk about anyone in a negative way. I know I am painting a picture of someone who could not possibly be that "good"...and I don't think I am remembering from a "rose-tinted glasses" viewpoint. She lost a baby when he was 18 months , another son at age 55, her husband when she was 73, and she kept her home by doing all the things necessary (boarders, chickens, etc). Through all our childhood, running across the bridge to see them, living partly in her home, drawing courage watching her handle life, we were learning life skills by observing and seeing the perfect example of a christian woman. When she finally had to go to a nursing home, I would visit and we would sit on the side of her bed, swinging our feet and she would say, "God has kept me alive, just so I can pray for our family". So I remember her and know that my ability to have strength, trust in God for all needs and enjoy each day of life comes from my "9 year old body standing between her and the chicken she had killed and was cutting up"...guess who knew how to cut up chickens when she got married! Thanks, Grandma, for many life lessons. Phillipians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Different Today

Well, yesterday at this time, I thought I would be in the hospital today, my how plans can be changed! I was admitted, IV's started, dye in the veins, put to sleep, breathing tube and all, went under the CT machine (did not know this part) and the radiologist doctor found two more tumors that had not shown up on the last CT...and they are in "dangerous" positions in my body (in other words, not where the being burnt up would be too good). So they woke me up, and we talked about the alternative. The radiologist feels a chemo delivered directly into the liver via an arteriogram is the best alternative, done in four stages to parts of the liver each time. This will take about two months to do, and meanwhile the other cancer in my abdomen which was not removeable needs chemo so I may be on two kinds at once. This is not something I would have chosen to do! After the first chemo 5 years ago I said "never again"...I even had that first port removed, I was so confident to never repeat the chemo. Then when the cancer came back the second time, I really did not want to just sit and die, so here we went again. As I was lying there today feeling teary, blue, "what am I going to do", the sweetest nurse came and held my hand and told me that God was taking care of me and that I would glorify Him thru this cancer. Wow, was that a heaven-sent moment or what? So I am home, kind of dopey from the anesthesia, glad to be alive on this lovely autumn day with what my grandmother used to call "October's bright blue weather"...the skies are so blue, it nearly hurts to look at them.My grandmother was my role model for my life...therein lies another day.."Praise the Lord oh my soul".

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dreading tomorrow

well, I have thought all day about what to write today--I have been reminiscing over the past 5 years, but now need to tell about my tomorrow...I am to have Radio Frequency Ablation, involving big needles!This ablation will be done to my liver to kill the 4 tumors there. Thankfully I will be very asleep, but going back to the hospital only 8 days after leaving it is a dreadful thing, even though I am so thankful for the technology, the doctor's wisdom and the ability to have hope. As Jeremiah says in Chapter 30:17, "For I will restore health unto thee and I will heal thee---saith the Lord". When the cancer came back this time and had spread from the "usual" 3-4 tumors in my abdomen and is now in my liver, I cried and told the oncologist, "Oh, this is the beginning of the end" and he replied, "No, the beginning of the end was 5 1/2 years ago and look how prayer has kept you alive this long"..He is so right and I am so thankful for a believing doctor...and for friends and family who pray so dilligently for me. If anyone is interested in seeing how this Ablation is done, look up and this will lead you to several sites that have lots of information.So as usual life is exciting..we have prayed for a perfect chemo to rid the rest of my body of the cancer and my oncologist says he has THREE experimental chemos to chose from, so there you go---God sends not one but three!!I will be back after the RFA with this "star wars" type of medicine!!have a blessed day!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thinking back about sisters

There were three of us "girls" ..I am the oldest, and when our middle sister died of breast cancer seven years ago, we felt as though our world had ended.....True, life will never be the same, because a piece of us has been cut away, but my youngest sister and I are very close and still feel the presence of our other with us as we do our "three-way-hug". All this to say, that my having cancer is so hard on that sister. She fears my losing the battle but we cannot go thru life fearing what might happen..just enjoying each day and appreciating what God has planned for us that day. So, back to the first time: It was the first of the four surgeries I have had so far........I cried- alot, feared- alot,and prepared for the chemo to follow..At that time, the encologists still gave cisplatin (the same chemo that saved Lance Armstrong's life)...that along with isfofosmide were the chemicals I received. To say chemotheraphy is difficult is the understatement of the year. However the three rounds of chemo pushed the cancer away for over two years, and I was cancer free for that time, living a normal life, growing hair again, doing what I had always done. Each and every day we have is a gift, and even after all that, I guess I still took each of these days for granted. Psalm 103:2 says, "Praise the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all His benefits.. who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases..." .I have based my life, literally, on these biblical promises , especially these past 5 years, and try to daily remember and apply these promises to my life. As long as I am alive, I am here for a purpose..and God is preserving my life for a reason...Exciting, isn't it!!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Well, good morning....I am not a "writer" as grandaughter is a very prolific blogger ("Hyperactive Lu") and I have always longed to be a journaler, carrying around a pretty little book with flowers on the cover and writing down profound thoughts each day---not me!So, to do this blog is very un'like me. But I feel very "led" to share all these cancerous thoughts and happenings. A few weeks ago one of our ministers asked me if I would help get involved in some sort of cancer ministry at our church and I said well, in fact, I had thought of starting a alot is happening and will somehow come together. I sit in church and count 15-20 cancer patients-survivors without turning my head!...What is this epidemic?..I always thought my self very healthy, eating right, exercising, the usual to stay in shape. In fact, we camped for years, climbed bluffs, biked, and hiked. So, it is not always anything we do or have control over that determines the cancer --the cell gone wild!
After the first surgery, I was told that this "Mixed Mullerian" tumor would be classified as an ovarian can this be??I had a total hysterectomy 25 years ovaries! I learned that even one tiny cell from the hysterectomy, or even a cell from MY time as a fetus, can remain and somehow mutate and start this cancerous growth. The Mixed Mullerian can contain fibrous, ovarian and uterine tissue, and these cells can lie dormant in the mullerian cavity (lower abdomen) for all your life then something triggers these cells to grow into a cancerous mass. This blog is not to scare or "turn you off" but to be informative and I feel, the more knowledge we have the better we can be proactive about our health. So began this journey also of knowledge! I began each day to read my favorite Psalm 139: more about this later...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How it all began

In June of 2004, life was good, (still is) but less complicated then!! We mortals tend to just "bebop" our way thru the days, taking life itself for granted, enjoying the wonderful day after day, rarely thinking, REALLY thinking what a gift each day is. This was actually May 31 of that year, Memorial Day, fun with family at cook out and swim party, when that night a horrific backache took me to the Emergency Room....within several days the diagnosis was made, surgery was performed and the words, "It is cancer" forever changed my life, my husband's and all our extended family. The type of cancer was (and is) a very rare, Mixed Mullerian tumor, and so begins this journey to find a cure, and achieve a life of normalcy, with the very tiny voice back in my head, saying "is it back?". So, I will attempt to share what has occured these 5 1/2 years. I hope you will follow me and I hope Jeremiah 29:11-13 will give you the hope and promise it gives me.