Round Two

John 3:16  For God so loved he world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

It has been almost two weeks since my second round of chemo. The events leading up to second treatment were a little more chaotic than the first. I began feeling some uncomfortableness in my right arm where the Picc line had been placed.  So, on Tuesday, September 25th I went to the blood/infection doctor here in the Quad Cities. They determined I indeed had a blood clot in my arm, so they removed the line immediately and sent me to the hospital to have an ultra sound done around the area to see if there was more than one. They also decided to schedule two more blood cultures to ensure my infection was completely gone. Honestly, I was completely discouraged with more testing and possible complications. My chemo infusion was scheduled for the next day and I was concerned that something would happen, and it would be pushed back again. I cried on the way to the hospital, just stressed and overwhelmed with all the extra stuff that was going on! Tim was unable to be with me that day because at the same time two of our younger children had been congested and running temperatures. So, he had been running them around to the doctors that day and keeping them out of the house, so we could keep the house as germ free as possible. To say the least we were really stressed! We were able to take a moment to pray together on the phone before I went into the hospital which helped calmed my nerves. In these hard moments when I do not understand all that is going on or why it is happening, and I am afraid, I am so thankful for prayer and faith!  After the tests were complete I was sent home. Thankfully there was only one blood clot and it was superficial (meaning it is not in a deep vein and should resolve on its own), so no blood thinners would be necessary, and chemo could stay on track woohoo! We also found out one of our little girls had and ear infection and the other had a viral infection. Also, no bacteria grew in the blood cultures, so I was cleared of any infection!!!  Though we did find out one of our little girls had an ear infection and the other had a viral infection, so we had to divide the kiddos between the grandparents for the next few days to ensure our home could continue to be safe for me throughout treatment week. This family division and inconsistency has been tough on our littles. They are struggling, because they want to be home with us and do not understand why when they are sick they cannot be around their mommy. We are all being stretched in different ways during this season of life that’s for sure!!!!!

Wednesday morning the 26th, we headed up to Iowa City to meet with my oncologist. I had not seen him since my hospitalization, so we had quite a bit to catch up on. When I first arrive at the office I have bloodwork done. With all the poke and prods I had in the last two weeks this tended to be a problem. They could barely draw any blood and had to dig around it was very painful, and they were only able to get the minim needed. Afterwards we met with Dr. L we discussed all the complications that had happened in the last four weeks. He assured me that most complications occur in the first and last round so he was optimistic that we would continue without a hitch. He explained we would try a new approach though to help keep my white blood cell count from dipping that low again. There are medicines available to help boost WBC after chemo, but they are very expensive and Insurance companies do not approve them for younger cancer patients unless there has been a problem. Since my first experience brought on an infection and hospital stay I was now eligible for these treatments. I guess making the hospital stay a blessing in disguise. I would have a little contraption attached to my arm that would release the medicine into my body 27 hours following each chemo treatment from here on out. Interesting enough I still hated the idea of foreign objects on me it seriously creeps me out but compared to another hospital stay was the easy choice! Well we had a plan of action; my blood work was looking good, so we headed down to infusion. Well we got settled and they were ready to start an IV and the nurse asked, “Um wait a minute did you say you had blood cultures done yesterday? What time?’ I told him 3 o’clock. He replied, ‘Well we cannot do chemo then, because standard practice is unless drawn from the hand (my blood cultures were not) you cannot have infusion within 24 hours of that draw! (Can you see Tim and I shaking our head thinking what’s next). I am telling you it isn’t easy to arrange his day off and five kiddos where they need to be so having to re do this another day was beyond frustrating. Well, all of the infusion staff was so wonderful and understanding one of the nurses who closed said she’d allow us to stay and start infusion after 3 (Which they usually do not do because then it runs past closing) and another gave us a certificate to the cafeteria so we could go have lunch and hangout for the next 3 hours while waiting! We were so grateful for these small acts of kindness and the ability to not have to reschedule. We also called home and had some close friends cover for us in picking the kiddos up from school and keeping them until we got back in town which was much later than we were anticipating. Again, a small blessing that was so meaningful to us knowing our children were in good hands even while we couldn’t be present. Well 3 pm comes, take two, we were in our chair ready to begin and believe it or not we run into a second problem. My veins will not cooperate by this time I have been poked over 30 times in my arms in the last few weeks, I have a portion of my right arm that still contains the superficial blood clot which makes that area ineligible, so we are limited in spaces to try. After several attempts my vein moves or will not take and begins bruising making that vein unusable. This is very painful and discouraging they call in the highest infusion nurse and the other nurse calls Dr. L because they want to let him know there will be one last attempt and if it fails we will have to leave without infusion and must return the next day. Tim and I were both praying over the nurse and the last attempt. She DID it YES, I never been so happy over a poke in my life. You see I hate chemo, but I am ready to get another notch in my belt to get this moving. The next few hours went as smooth as butter. We completed round two this time I did begin feeling very nauseous before leaving the hospital, but it was manageable, and I was with two 1/3rd of the way there!!! Even though chemo makes you feel terrible, I feel very excited to keep plugging away one step closer to finish! As we prepared to leave a nurse put the little contraption unto my arm that would release the medicine in 27 hours to help stimulate the white blood cell count this time around to prevent any further hospital stays. After the drugs released I would be able to take it off my arm. As we left I was warned they will be calling about the next infusion date. Due to all the issues we had I should prepare myself to have a port put in. This was something I had refused in beginning and absolutely did not want. Previously stated foreign objects in my body is my least favorite thing ever. I get paranoid over infection other side effects and it just grosses me out!

The next few days followed a similar pattern to the first round. Days 1-3 very fatigued. Days 4 more improvement and by day 5 I felt more like myself. I was able to go and enjoy one of Kaden’s football games on day 5 (Monday October 1st) It was a beautiful night and I am so grateful for in that moment it was almost normal life again. All the kids were home we were able to all be together cheering on Bubba. Lately, our life has been so chaotic we haven’t had the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life!! As the week continued we really focused on the kids and trying to establish some sort of normal for them. It was overall a good week. Fatigue comes on quick and I was thankful for family members who would come out during the day and help allowing me to rest and reenergize when needed.

My goal in this blog is to be as transparent as possible to bring encouragement to others. But also, to be real and let’s be honest life is messy, hard and just plain sucks sometimes. Nothing could have prepared me for cancer. When I was first given my diagnosis, I was very optimistic. I serve a big God, I am not worried about dying, and I am surrounded by an army of support. My only comparison is I guess when you are about to have your first baby you know labor is hard, but woman have been doing it forever so really you know you’ll make it through just be tough and grit through it. That was my approach when I began treatment. But it has been harder than I could imagined. Getting sick and having to stay in the hospital was very traumatic for me to the point I am very paranoid about going out in public and being exposed to anyone or anything that could get me sick. Our family dynamic has been completely thrown off we have five beautiful children that are at critical stages in life that need mommy and consistency and are struggling with all that has drastically changed their lives. Cancer is hard on a marriage especially when young children come into play and one person is having to hold down the role of both parent’s 70/80 percent of the time. Emotionally, feeling like you are bringing everyone down around you or are responsible for making everyone’s life harder is a big pill to swallow and brings me to tears just writing about. Honestly, these are the struggles that I am sure many people face when they have cancer and for me it has been depressing. Even with the good days there is that lingering diagnosis and all the horrendous things that come with it and over the last few weeks I have let it get to me! This last weekend it all came to a head. Not just all the health issues, but a few of our children are dealing with circumstances beyond our control and then Tim and I were fighting about stupid stuff (which is NOT normal for us) just the stress of it all overwhelmed me and I was angry. I was angry at God I was mad with everything we were facing I felt it was unfair, that one thing after the other just keeps coming up when we are barely treading water as it is. Do not get me wrong I love Jesus and believe I know all the scriptures and why what I was feeling was wrong, but I didn’t care. I cried myself to sleep Friday night telling God I need to feel you I need to know your here, because I am at my breaking point. When I awoke Saturday, nothing had changed I was not a happy camper. I just felt abandoned and isolated from the life I have been accustomed to before cancer. But before 10 am I received a phone call from a prayer warrior from our church. God had showed her some very inciteful words about me to her that morning. This astounded me. Long story short God showed her the woman in the bible who was mourning her dead son and as Jesus walked up to her. The bible says, He had compassion on her.’ That this is what Jesus was saying to me today. He sees you he has compassion on you and all that is going on. He’s holding you when you cannot put one foot in front of the other He will carry you!’ I don’t know about you all. But if you ask God for some kinda sign that He is there, and someone calls and tells you that the next day and it doesn’t turn your frown upside down something is missing!!!! And then later that very same day I met a woman whom I had tried to connect over the last week but was not able to until Saturday morning who has walked the road I am on right now. A fellow believer who had the same type of cancer, same doctor, and was in a worse position health wise than I am in and I was able to physically see someone on the other side smiling and praising Jesus. She encouraged me so much and just being able to ask questions about someone who knew exactly what I was going through was amazing! Words cannot express to the joy I felt after these encounters. Even in the darkest moments in this season when I allow my flesh to take over and fear and ager to arise within me. He proves himself in such big ways. I am so humbled that He would take the time to validate my request when I am just one mere human. But that is who He is. He cares about and loves each and every one of us so much! I wanted to share my most raw moment with all of you because I know I am not the only one that allows myself to get overwhelmed with circumstances and situations that come in this lifetime! And I know he wants to prove himself to you all you have to do is ask!

John 3:16  For God so loved he world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

One thought on “Round Two

  1. Hi Rachel, I had gone to a Women’s Conference about a week ago. And it was all about who we are in Christ and our purpose.
    The speaker goes on to tell us that we are created to know God and to make him known.
    And as you’re going through this very difficult time. I can’t help but think about how you are doing just that! Through your trial through your circumstances through your blog you are making Christ known!
    Your testimony is and will impact people for His kingdom. Always praying for you.


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