From Fighter to Survivor

January 15, 2015 at 1:58 pm (My ramblings) (, )

I’ve been in bed sick with a cold for the last 2 days and I had horrible flashbacks of the days after chemo. I forced myself to get up today and as I was getting into the shower, I looked at myself in the mirror. It’s strange, because it’s not like this was the first time I looked at my mastectomy scars. It just hit me that with these ugly scars, I went from being a fighter to a survivor. I cried my eyes out and realized for the first time just how much I have been through in the last 7 months since being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. When you are in the fight of your life, you just go through the motions and try not to think about what’s going on. It took all my strength to wake up every day and be positive and choose to trust the Lord to get me though this. I think if I would’ve stopped and thought about what was happening to me, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to go on and that’s where you come in.

cancer boxI have a “cancer box” and I have saved all the cards and balloons and even flower petals in it. As I added another card to it today, the tears just came over me again. There are no words that could ever express my gratitude to everyone who prayed for me, brought me meals, sent me flowers, texted and emailed me, called me and even sent me video prayers all the way from my beloved Swaziland, Africa. My husband took such incredible care of me that my only concern during treatment was to focus on myself because he took care of everything else. My mom was there for me emotionally in ways that I never could have imagined. My relationship with God and all of you are why I am able to be here and write about this today. I’ve had to actually walk out my faith, not with words but with actions. I’ve always felt like I had a strong faith in God but until you walk through something that requires you act on that faith, you never know just how strong it is. From the depths of my soul I can say that God is real and He is good. All the time.

As my journey continues from fighter to survivor, I now face the reconstruction process and the rebuilding of my life back. Please continue to pray for me as it will be several more months and another surgery until the reconstruction is done. It’s painful and uncomfortable and I will spare you the details and at least the hardest part (chemo) is finished. I had a follow up with my specialist a few days ago and she told me all the pathology came back and I am CANCER FREE! Those words just hit me today and I realized that I am now a survivor.

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The Ugly Side of Chemo

September 23, 2014 at 11:01 am (My ramblings) (, )

Sept 2014 2Chemo is the most horrendous thing I’ve ever been through in my life and I’ve been through a lot. There aren’t adequate words to describe the way it makes you feel. I’ve never seen anyone go through it and the only thing I ever knew about it was what I saw on TV. I thought it was just going bald and throwing up a lot and I wished that’s all it was. You may not want to read this post because I have decided to be brutally honest. Don’t get me wrong, I still know that God is on the throne and that He is working out everything for my good but that doesn’t mean I have to feel good about it.

I had my 4th infusion last Wednesday and I still feel very weak and fatigued. It’s a different kind of fatigue then just being tired. It’s a deep down in your bone tired where it takes all your energy just to walk up a flight of stairs. Since I’m bald now, my showers take about 5 minutes and by the time I’m done, I have to lay down and rest. I can barely walk through a grocery store without having to stop to rest. I thought having Fibromyalgia was bad but that’s a cakewalk compared to chemo. I constantly feel like I’ve run a 100 mile marathon and my legs are very shaky and weak. I’ve been anemic so I’m sure that’s not helping and unfortunately chemo anemia can’t be cured by taking iron. The only way to get my red blood cells up is to have a transfusion, which I will have to have soon.

For some reason, yesterday and today have been the hardest days for me emotionally. I get out of the shower and look in the mirror and I see myself with no hair and my pale pallor and I can’t help crying. I only starting my breast cancer journey 3 months ago and to see the changes in such a short time saddens me. I’m not talking about vanity here but the reality of cancer and the devastating effects of chemo. I keep telling myself that chemo is not the enemy, it’s the solution but my body feels differently. I’m just praying that it will not be for nothing and it will kill all the cancer cells.

I’m grateful that I only have 2 more treatments then I’ll be done with the hardest part. I will still have to have an infusion of one of the medicines every 3 weeks for a year but those side effects are manageable. I have to meet with the specialist and the plastic surgeon next month to determine the type of surgery I will need. I’m almost certain that I will be having a bilateral mastectomy and the thought of having several more surgeries for that is more than I can handle right now. I’ve had 9 surgeries in the last 12 years and I’m just not looking forward to more.

I can say that I know how David felt when he penned Psalm 13,

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God.

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall. 

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.

I know this is a season that will pass. I know that my great God will carry me through. I know that in the end, I’ve already won because I know how the story will end so I will sing the Lord’s praise. He has been and will continue to be good to me because He loves me with an everlasting love. He knows when I am weak and He knows my every need and thought and He delights in me. This is the reason that I can be so discouraged in my body but so strong in my spirit. I can have a meltdown like this morning but as I open my Bible and focus on God’s plan for my life, I can’t help but be encouraged. God knew that when He created me I would face this battle. He knew that I would need an amazing husband by my side. He knew that my husband, who lost his first wife to cancer, would know exactly how to love and support me and his kids through this. He knew that I would be reconciled to my family because I would need them. He knew that my mom would eventually become my best friend. He knew that I would need my faithful puppy, Kiku, to never leave my side, to lay with me for hours on end and to just love me unconditionally. He knew that ultimately I would need a personal relationship with Him and I am most grateful that He never gave up on me, even during times when I grievously sinned against Him. I made the decision to trust and follow Christ 13 years ago and my life has never been the same. I know without a doubt that I would not have been able to go through this without Him.

I need your prayers like never before because I am feeling overwhelmed and weary. I am reminded of Moses when Joshua and the Israelites were fighting against the Amalekites. When Moses had his arms raised, the Israelites were winning but when he became tired and lowered them, the Amalekites were winning. Aaron and Hur stood at his side and propped up his arms so that Joshua was able to defeat the Amalekites. This is exactly what I need right now. I need my friends and family to prop up my arms because I am getting tired. I have a long way to go to defeat this cancer and I know without a doubt, that all things are possible for him who believes and I do believe.

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Oncologist Meeting

July 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm (Breast Cancer, Faith, My ramblings) (, )

I just back from meeting with the oncologist and I’m feeling very overwhelmed. I really wanted to wait until I got back from my family vacation In August to start chemo but the oncologist wants me to start asap. The tumor grew 1 cm in 2 weeks so she is afraid that if I wait, it could spread into my lymph nodes. Although my lymph nodes came back clear, one of them is “chunky.”
I will be having a port put in to my chest on Monday, then a chemo education class on Tuesday, chemo on Wednesday and then on Thursday I go in for an injection that will boost my white blood cells. I will have 6 rounds of chemo, once every 3 weeks. Halfway though treatments, I’ll have an MRI or ultrasound to see if it shrunk then discuss surgery options and radiation.
I have HER2+ breast cancer, which means I test positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), which promotes the growth of cancer cells. HER2-positive breast cancers tend to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer. The chemo combination is called TCHP or Taxotere, Carboplatin, Herceptin and Perjeta.
Please continue to pray for me and Ken as the reality is really setting in. It’s hard to think that I have this horrible disease growing inside of me because I don’t look or feel sick. I’m trying to keep a positive attitude and know without a doubt that the Lord will get us through this. I’m sure it will hit me the most when my hair starts to fall out and I think that’s when it will be the hardest for me.
Again, I am so grateful that we have such a strong support group and godly people in our lives and it’s your prayers that are carrying us through this season.

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I have Breast Cancer

July 3, 2014 at 5:37 am (My ramblings, Prayers) ()

The doctor finally called me yesterday with the news, “you have invasive ductal cancer”. Those 5 words will change my life from this day forward. I’m trying to process it all with the little bit of information I have. I have to admit that my knowledge of breast cancer is very limited. I started doing a little research yesterday and I’ve learned that my treatment will be largely based on whether or not it’s in any of my lymph nodes. I’m having an MRI and ultrasound on Monday to determine if it has spread to any of them. On Wednesday I go back to the breast specialist to discuss the results then to an oncologist. My doctor also told me that I will need to do chemo to shrink the lump before they remove it.

I’m still a little numb and am trying to process everything. I’m so grateful for the Lord and my husband walking through this with me. I don’t know how anyone can go through something like this without faith. Just knowing that so many people are praying for me brings me great comfort. I have received so many texts, phone calls and emails with verses and I am so grateful that I have God’s word to comfort me.

One of the verses that I have been clinging to is Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you.” I have had an incredible peace since I started this journey 3 weeks ago. I’m sure their will be times when I’m not so peaceful and scared, but for now, God’s grace is sufficient for me.

I know the Lord is opening up a great opportunity for me to share my faith and my prayer is that I will bring God glory and give other women, who are going through this, the hope that I have in Christ.

God is using worship music to minister to my heart and soul and I absolutely love the words to Hillsong’s Oceans, Where feet may fail

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