Good Bye Cancer

Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

Before I sat down to write this blog, I took a moment to reflect on the last few months of my life. I read over the very first blog I posted. Emotions poured through me as I thought back to the moment I heard the word Cancer. In the beginning we were not told what kind or given any indication of what the next few months of our lives would hold. My heart ached that first night not knowing if I would see my children grow up. Tears poured for hours as I contemplated the news and what the future  on this earth looked like for me. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude as I think back to all the wonderful people, too many to name, who rallied around us. From financial support, ongoing prayers, care givers that came to my house to help ease the burden of taking care of my five children and all that it entails, dinners galore and there is so much more that would take days to write! But to sum it up, we were taken care of during this season beyond any expectation we had!

In the beginning of this journey I cried out to the Lord Why? Why me? Why now? I had just given birth to my fifth child and was already feeling like my life was consumed with so much responsibility already. It was still so surreal I didn’t feel any different besides the lump. Like many people I am sure I felt like I was a good person and did not deserve this type of news. I felt like I was being punished like a bad dream. I had dedicated my life to Christ five years prior to this and though far from perfect I since then had been trying to do my best to grow and serve him on a daily basis. I was angry I felt like I was in bible terms ‘Reaping something I hadn’t sown.’ It was during this heart wrenching moment God clearly spoke many words of comfort to me! Along with this blog I kept a personal journal of this experience. I wrote in there the promises I was given and knew one day I would share. They were substantial to me in the heat of this battle. I used them to remind of God’s goodness. When I doubted I went back to them.  You see when my lump first appeared before we knew anything I was praying and asking God what it was and please just take care of it. He told clear as day “My child it is going to get very scary, but I will be with you, and you will be safe.” I honestly did not understand this word especially after the original diagnosis was hyperthyroidism. Little did I know I was being prepared as well as encouraged for the future and how much this promise meant to me for months! He told me that I would come through this before I even knew cancer was on the table! Once we found out the diagnosis the first few days were rough and it was in those very first days I was crying out and describing my thought process that I spoke of earlier fear, anger, doubt  he told me again very clearly ‘You will be healed and that this was happening for His glory. I would get to share my testimony to many people through this trial’  This was not just a one time thing, this promise he spoke many times to me in the first few weeks before any fear or doubt could creep in he constantly said ‘You will be healed, you will be healed, you will be healed.’ After the initial fear and after this promise was spoken (several days after diagnosis) I had such a peace I did not fear that this was the end for me I knew be healed. I was apprehensive of the process that I was going to go through. Because he also told me at this point to prepare myself, because for Him to receive the most glory from my journey that it would have to be the full deal. I am going to share the entry from my journal after this was given to me.

August 27, 2018 (Day before I began Chemo)

I am called according to HIS purpose to walk through this season of life to glorify his name and I am overwhelmed by the honor the Lord has bestowed on me. He is my redeemer. He is my fortress. He is my source of peace. I will do the real deal (hair loss and everything) Whatever is necessary for His Glory to be shown the most!

I am now sitting on the other end of this season. I am sure by know many of you know I was told December 19, 2018 That I was in remission. That there was no cancer anywhere in my body that the chances of it coming back was 90/95% (Though I know it is 100%) God was and is faithful. He is not a liar and though there were dark and discouraging times. I am here today loving and living life!

I am so thankful for my personal relationship with Christ he is real and if anyone ever asked me how I can believe in an invisible God the answer is so clear to me. He speaks to me and those things happen. I cannot make them up. The peace and comfort I received on this journey was too real to be anything I could’ve accomplished or created on my own. If you followed my blog you know I had ups and downs. But every time I was at my lowest something would always happen a phone call, someone sending me a message, or a song that pertained to exactly what I was dealing with. I am not a survivor without HIM I would not have made it without the direction and care of my Father. Being in his hands is the only thing that got me through.

Romans 8:2 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called to his purpose.

This was the verse of my first blog. Though I knew it was not going to be fun I trusted God would work out the details to get me to his promise. He was faithful every single moment he spoke many things to me and was best friend my go to for all my issues. And in the few moments I allowed doubt to come over me immediately he direct me right back to him! I told the Lord in the beginning that if but one person could be saved through my experience it would be worth it! I still believe that and would walk it again for the same outcome!

I know all of us face difficulties in this life. Many seem to take so much energy from us it impossible to find complete joy or happiness in living. Overwhelmed with responsibility, raising a family, bad work enviroment, depression, divorce, hurt from others that you cannot seem to get over, debt, disease, etc. Some of you probably are probably facing more than one of these things. I want to encourage you to not face it! You don’t have too!

John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. IN THIS WORLD YOU WILL HAVE TROUBLE. but take heart! I have overcome the world.

I wish I had time to share with you the day I called out asking him if he was real, and if he was…. to show up. But that story will have to be for another day. Just know the second I called genuinelyasking him to reveal himself, because what I was facing I knew I could not on my own. He did in such a big a way, I have never questioned his existence since. And my life was forever changed. I am confident if you are hurting, in crisis, or just lost at this point in your life. All you need to do is stop right now cry out to him! Ask him to show himself to you! Ask him if he’s real and if he is let you know! And he will!
I promise he will carry you through anything that you are facing and you will know for yourself!

I would love to connect with any of you, and would love to hear how God is encouraging you in your life! Again I want to thank everyone who has stood by us during these last few months! You were the army God provided to battle alongside us and for that I am forever grateful!

 

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Isaiah 40:31

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

It has been so long since my last blog that I had to go back and reread my last entry to remind myself what I had last written. I am so sorry for this! November was a tough month. Starting off Kenzie and Kyla each celebrated a birthday, Tim went through major work transitions, Thanksgiving, prepping for Christmas and it was the month has two rounds of chemo all of this really took a tole on me mentally and physically! The fifth one knocking me out for almost two weeks! So much has happened and some of the changes have been difficult and though there have been very deep lows. I can honestly say God has continued to be a constant comfort to me! Even when I question his goodness and his plan, he has supplied the grace when I am weak to be an overcomer in this battle.

The beginning of November started out rough. Tim’s company was bought out, we literally were given a few days’ notice. The employees were given very little information. They were informed they would all have to interview for new positions. And then on top of it pay, salary, benefits would not be disclosed until after interviews were all complete. This sent us into panic mode for a moment. Our insurance was of most concern to us for obvious reasons. We were notified that we would be covered until the end of December, but after that only if Tim got hired on to the new company. Well we really decided to not worry or focus on the what ifs. That week we prayed gave it all to God trusting if this was time for a job change, he would direct us and if not, Tim would be given a position that would still be able to support our family….. And as I am sure you have already guessed, He came through better than we had hoped for (Are you surprised?!?! Probably not if you’ve been keeping up with this blog! He seriously never disappoints.)  Tim was offered a management position. It is hard to describe the feeling when the Lord just pours out such a blessing. And though our job status and finances have been secured there are still some major changes to our insurance which will greatly impact us in the New Year, but we continue to trust God and know that we are safe relying on him! The second transition that came at the beginning of November was Tim officially came back on staff at our church as a music pastor. The timing may have seemed odd to us and stressful to add one more thing to our already crazy little world, but we both felt peace about moving forward and having him accept the position. I had actually been praying daily for God to give Tim some sort of outlet during this time. As the head of the household he is not only working to provide for our family, but he comes home and takes on much more household responsibility that I cannot physically handle during this season and eventually I was worried he would burn out. So, when we sat down to talk one evening and he approached the subject of coming back on staff part time to lead worship. God told me very clearly in that moment, ‘It seems like strange timing, but this will be good, and this is what he needs right now.’ And then I was super excited, because I may be biased but my husband is AWESOME at leading worship!  Needless to say, these two job situations have led to Tim being gone quite a bit more which has caused some extra stress and tension on the household/5 children schedule front. Hence the super busy month not keeping up with the blog!

On to the medical side of things I continued with my fourth round of chemo November 7th. I was nervous because it would be the first one Tim wasn’t able to be with me. He had to be at work for all the new company training. Thankfully, my friend Lindsey was able to come with me. She was great being a nurse she helped me remember all the questions I had for the doctor, she kept me calm when I was getting infusion, and I was worried about it being a new nurse pushing the chemo through my port. We actually got to sit and chat for a while without any kiddos. So really ended up being a great time (as great as a time you can have in chemo I guess). My fourth round went well without a hitch. My doctor prescribed me some anti-anxiety medicine to help counter some of the side effects I was having when I take prednisone for the five days following chemo and it seemed to help! I did notice it took me almost a week to fully recover and feel like myself again. Fatigue and nausea just lingered longer than it had in the past!   Following this fourth round I was informed it was time for a pet scan to check the status on the cancer and to determine if I was going to be done with treatment or continue into next year. My pet scan was scheduled for Monday, November 26. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I received a call from Iowa City informing me that my pets can for the following Monday was going to be canceled due to insurance denial. It was hard not to allow frustration and fear to get the best of me at this point. I called my insurance company and was on the phone for over an hour really with no explanation except that my doctor would need to call and appeal the case. My doctor’s office was of course willing to do this but with it being a holiday weekend would not be able to until Monday. And…..we were at a sit and wait point again. I swear with all we have been through in the last few years I should be a champion at patience, but I am sorry to say situations like this remind me how human I am. I want to stomp around maybe say some choice words to insurance companies lol in the end it will do no good, so I humbly once again learn more and more patience. There will be a day when I master this, but I tell you this was not that day!

Well the week progressed we enjoyed Thanksgiving with our families being two weeks out from chemo I felt great and was so thankful I was able to enjoy this holiday! Monday came we did not hear anything, but my fifth round was scheduled for that Wednesday and we assumed we would be given an update then. Well Wednesday came we and headed to Iowa City.  We went a little early to get labs drawn and then during our down time before chemo we had the pleasure of visiting the pediatric ward. A family friends’ nephew had recently been diagnosed with leukemia and had been admitted indefinitely for treatment. We were able to bless him and his mother with some gifts we had collected from our loving church family and then pray with them! My heart hurts for anyone going through this, but to see child completely wrecks me! I hope and pray we will continue to support them during this time!

After this we went down to meet my doctor. We were told that he was able to get the pets can approved that I would have its December 14th and we would plan on round 6 of chemo on December 19th and at that appointment we would have pets can results and know what the future looks like from there! He was very optimistic being that we have seen the physical evidence in my neck. The large lump that first appeared is no longer present. The one area of concern is the tumors that were in my chest. I guess maybe with everything going on in the beginning neither Tim nor I picked up on the extent of them. Dr. L’s actual description was ‘Oh your neck was just the tip of the iceberg, so it will be interesting to see your results.’ Tim told me after this he started praying for me immediately in his head because he was worried, I was about to freak out…. But I didn’t (Freak out I mean) I was actually just so excited about the pet scan and being so close to the finish line nothing was going to upset me! I have often wondered about the reason my scan was pushed back I may never know or maybe I just needed a little bit more time to heal I am secure in the fact that really it comes down to his timing not mine!

After leaving Iowa City and finishing my fifth round the next few days were okay the anti-anxiety meds really seem to keep the prednisone at bay, which I really appreciate! Though once Sunday came, I was hit with some major stomach issues. I was doubled over in pain and with what I can only relate to labor contractions. It was horrible I couldn’t get up off the floor. It would come in waves and after each strong pain I felt like I was going to pass out. It had been going on for about two hours. Tim was very worried he told me even during childbirth I did not act like that. One of the strong prayer warriors at the church called me during this time. I sat on the phone with her at times not even being able to talk because of how much pain I was in. She just sat there and prayed with me through it. Tim was on the phone with the doctor who was going to have me try some prescriptions and if that didn’t work, we were going to have to go in. After about twenty minutes being on the phone with Mary. The pain naturally resolved itself. I did not have to take any prescriptions! I am still a little in shock over all of it the pain was so great and to just be done! Even after it naturally subsided my body was physically drained though, I could only lay in bed exhausted. And it impacted my stomach greatly. Since then I have not had that extreme of pain, but my stomach is incredibly sensitive, and I have been sticking to a very light diet. That was four days ago. This week has been hard. Even as I sit here writing this, I still have not fully recovered from this fifth round! Yesterday I did not get out of bed at all, I am extremely fatigued, and the lingering effects of chemo seem to come and go at random. I am so grateful for my mother and mother in law whom have almost completely taken over my household duties and helped take care of my family! I am so blessed by all that they have done and continue to do to ensure we are all taken care of!

I hold on to the verse I used for this blog. Even in times like now where I feel weak. I only need to put my hope in the Lord. This trial is almost over! And though it has been the toughest season I have encountered in this lifetime. I know that He will renew my strength, because my trust and hope untimely are with him and Him alone!

It Could Be Worse

Matthew 6:25-27 That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life-whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothing to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly father feeds them. And aren’t you more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

In America studies have shown that stress and anxiety consume our society. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 40 million American adults roughly 18 percent of the population have an anxiety disorder. Yet we are one of the richest nations in the world. Even the poorest in our nation compared to other countries would be considered well off!  We have access to the some of the best healthcare, housing and food choice. Yet, we are the most stressed and anxious people on the planet. Why is this?

Lately, especially in this season worry and anxiety threatens to consume my daily life! It seems each week brings a new problem with my health or treatment, family life keeping everything together in our home with our younger children’s basic needs being met, the constant drama of having a teenager in and out of the home spiking an array of completely new challenges,  to the latest a job situation that is threatening not only our income but our health insurance (Which obviously we need more than we have ever needed before!) I wake up every morning with my head filled with about 20 different situations I must mentally prepare for and most of the time I have no control over half of them. It can be so easy to let my mind go to the mentality that life sucks and mope through it! I feel God has really been challenging me lately with a new perspective. It could be worse!

Last year if you would’ve asked me how life was going I would have more in likely responded very quickly with ‘Hard.’ Four kids pregnant with a fifth, living with my parents while we flipped a house that presented new obstacles every day, driving the kids almost three hours a day for 3 months to commute to school while we remodeled. I HAD NO IDEA!!! If I could I would go back to ‘That hard’  in a second.  I could list about 50 different things in five minutes about how cancer has not only turned our world upside down but made life 200 percent harder than it’s ever been! I have a new-found respect for those that have walked this road I am on! BUT…….

I am alive!

I have all five senses!

I have full use of all my limbs!

My husband is alive and right beside me (Keeping me laughing) on this adventure called life!

My children minus a few minor illnesses are healthy!

We do not worry about feeding our family!

We do not worry about clothing our family!

We go to bed safe in our beds every night in a home that is amazing!

Though I am not fond of cancer there is no denying the fact that my doctors care and treatment are top of the line and I have the medicine I need readily available to me. And so far, our insurance has been amazing and has covered the majority of my care without any issues.

The army of help that has covered us in this time and has provided, spiritual, physical, emotional, and financial support during this time is astounding!

These were ten things that I am so grateful for and that I take for granted daily (I know I did this with my health in the past as well.)  When reflecting this last week, I realized it could be worse! If any one of these things were taken from me I believe my quality of life would seriously be affected. I think if we were honest with ourselves and took only a few minutes a day to mull over all you have and then consider all that you could possibly have taken from you all of us would realize it could be worse.

The last few weeks I have had so many more good days than bad. And even when I am struggling I am trying to put things into perspective by reminding myself of all the amazing blessings I have been given and not allowing myself to mull over what I do not have. And it has completely transformed my my attitude.

Since my last update I have completed my third round of chemo. Before this treatment I went up the day before and had a port placed in. As many of you know I was very distressed about this procedure and the idea of having a permanent object fixated in my body indefinitely. I also have an extreme hate of anything that causes pain. So overall not a happy camper. My experience ended up being pretty good despite the circumstances. While I was being prepped for surgery my comedic  husband continually kept the nurses and I laughing even to the point he was trying to convince them that his name had a silent T and to refer to him as ‘im’. Thankfully this helped keep my calm leading up to the procedure. When they finally took me to the operating room I had come to terms with what was happening and was ready to just get er done! I was able to converse with the team of four people who would be a part of the procedure. They allowed me to choose the music to be played while they were working. I of course choose my staple Kari Jobe worship station which brought a very peaceful atmosphere to the room. Before they sedated me I asked to be able to pray over all of them and they were very open to this. I felt a little weird lying on a table leading a prayer over a team of doctors and nurses that were about to cut me open but hey if there is ever a time to pray over people I feel this is definitely the time and place!!!! The next thing I remember was being in recovery with Tim. I was very sore, and the rest of the day was pretty foggy. We met with my oncologist a few hours later discussed blood work and port placement and went over blood work approving the third round of chemo the following day. We stayed in Iowa City overnight and checked into infusion the next morning. I was told accessing my port the day after surgery would be painful, but my oncologist prescribed me some painkillers and honestly, I didn’t feel a thing!! Super happy and grateful for that! Third round went off without a hitch. The days following chemo feel very much the same I am getting used to reading my body and what is happening or what I need. My biggest struggle is the side effects of prednisone that I take for five days after each infusion. I have not thrown up and though my stomach is very sensitive I praise God how manageable it has become since the first time. The port took me a short time to get used to. The first week was a difficult adjustment I was unable to do much I was even restricted from lifting Kendrick, so I had to rely heavily on others. After the second week I began feeling a lot more comfortable and now I barely even know it’s there. Sometimes its still strange having it there inside me, but I know it will make things so much easier for the next few months.

As I continue on my journey I always want to come back to the title of this blog ‘It Could Be Worse.’ In the next few weeks we have some major issues that can be game changers in our lives and current situation. Tim is facing job transitions as well as we are preparing for testing after round four to determine how chemotherapy has impacted the cancer, whether or not I am in remission and how we will move forward with care. I am learning to take every step day by day to focus on the good and not the bad. And how I would be completely lost throughout all of this without my Lord and Saviour there is no denying I can get out of bed every morning and cast all my cares upon Him and have complete peace knowing He is in control of it all!

 

 

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.

9/24/18

 

 

 

Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Isaiah 41:13 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.

I have struggled to get started with this this blog entry. This last week has been a very busy one! On top of all the cancer stuff that has us constantly on our toes, it was also homecoming week for my son’s high school. Which has kept me so wrapped up in day to day activities. I haven’t sat down and fully processed all that has happened in the last 7 days. Sitting down to write and update everyone is also helping me to reflect and process some of the big changes we have made.

After being released from the hospital last Sunday I had a visiting nurse start coming to the house on Monday. She went over how to administer antibiotics once a day for two weeks through a picc line that has been placed in my right arm. Then she will be out every few days to check my blood and clean the line. This picc line has been a source of anxiety and stress throughout the week. I am naturally squeamish when it comes to medical stuff. Needles, blood, IV’s, etc.  those things gross me out! So, having something sticking out of my arm on top of having to learn how to give myself my medications through this line was a growing experience to say the least. Then of course all the risk factors involved with a picc line such as infection or blood clots filled me with fear. I was put on a 20 lb. weight limit which was very difficult to maintain with young children! Thankfully I will go in to see the blood/infection doctor this week and hopefully I will get the picc line will be removed. Which I will be overjoyed for that to happen not gonna lie! I am so thankful for those that have prayed for this area when fear raised its nasty head throughout this ordeal! And for the close family and friends that stayed with me through the day to help with all the activities I could not do myself!  An amazing moment during this time was when someone who was praying over me specifically over the Picc gave me the verse Isaiah 41:13 over the phone. She did not know it was in my right arm or the impact of this verse would have on me. I find it such a God thing that this verse would talk about my ‘right hand’ reminding me so lovingly not to fear and that He is right there helping me! It is in these moments that I fall more in love with my Lord Jesus. He has been such a staple in this journey and all the challenges it has brought.

Another large milestone that was hit this week was the hair. At the beginning of this journey I discussed with my doctor, knew what was coming, became almost in denial, and then when it began happening I dreaded the moment I would have to shave my head. It seems almost trivial when you compare to a life or death situation and after last weekend it did not seem like that big of a deal. But if I am being honest when it came down to the moment it was very difficult. While I was in the hospital I started losing hair it came out on my pillow when I was in the shower or brushing it. When I was released I immediately contacted my hairstylist to make an appointment Saturday to have it shaved. Unfortunately, by Wednesday morning it was falling out at an alarming rate a large chunk had matted in the night and fell leaving a gaping spot in the back of my head. I called Tim at work and let him know it would have to be shaved tonight when he got home. My stomach was in knots the whole day as I anticipated what was to come. In my mind I completely understand… yes hair grows back, yes, it is better to be getting healthy than having your hair. And yes, I also understand that my hair isn’t what makes me who I am. But in all honestly, I am sure most woman can identify with the thought of shaving your head being traumatic. Thankfully, I have an amazing supportive husband. He came home with flowers and a note lovingly describing his adoration for me has nothing to do with my hair. We prepared everything put on some soothing worship music, prayed together cried and then shaved my head. It was a surreal experience. I cried the entire time. When I reached up to touch my head I began shaking and cried even harder. Just feeling my bald head made everything real. Not that it was just my hair, but a constant reminder that I am indeed a cancer patient and no matter where I go everyone will know. Tim held me for a long time. We washed my head to get all the remnant hair off. I could not look at myself in the mirror for the first half hour. Even though this was a tough moment it ended up being a very intimate moment with my husband. Seeing and feeling the love and support from my spouse was one of the biggest blessings I have had through this journey. I honestly did not want him to be the one to shave my head but in the end, it ended up being a moment I will always cherish! Then with another step towards showing me support Tim decided to shave his head so we could be baldies together. I actually made it very clear that he didn’t have to do this, but Friday afternoon he called me into the kitchen and just as I walked in I caught our 8-year-old with the clippers. She took a huge chunk out the back of his head before I could stop her!!! I was dying laughing and stated’ Well there’s no going back now.’ Even though I did not expect Tim to do this I felt better having a bald-headed partner I even included a picture we took together. It is the first picture I took without a hat. I know I am fearfully and wonderfully made hair or no hair (Though my preference is hair and praying this time around it comes in thicker 😊.)

Reflecting on these moments though this hasn’t always been a fun or easy situation. I thank the Lord for all the joy and closeness he has brought our family through this! I am overwhelmed on a daily basis of the people in my small-town community, my church family, my friends that go out of their way to make these hard moments easier! I know my trust in the Lord has grown more each and every day. And as I gear up for round two of chemo later this week I know no matter what circumstances may arise. I expect only good things, because ultimately, He is my healer and I am safe in His hands!

Miracle

9/15/16

Psalm 118:17 You shall not die, but live and declare my work.

James 5:14-15 Are any of you sick? You should call the elders of the church to come pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well.

I am going to apologize for two things in advance before I start this blog! First, I am doing this from my phone so I am sorry if there if my grammar or punctuation is off it is hard to edit from this small of a screen. Second, I intend to use some of the medical terminology as possible, but I’m still learning everything and I have had a lot thrown at me in the last few days!

So here we go! Last Wednesday I started getting very sore in my mouth and throat (This can be common with chemo treatments) but then I started running fevers! Hating the hospitals and all the pokes that come with those visits I tried to just rest and treat at home on Thursday afternoon my fever went to 101. Which is the first sign of infection in your body. So I waited until Tim got home we decided to spend an hour in praise and worship. Then we checked my temperature and it was still present so we packed up and headed to the ER in Rock Island. We were hoping it would be a route be in out maybe some oral antibiotics.  Once we were admitted we found out our admitting nurse lived on our street! Seriously, can you say divine appointment. We live in a small town 40 minutes from RI and then to live on same street! To crazy of a coincidence! Love that we made that connection! Anyways surprisingly I didn’t have a fever once we were admitted, but as a chemo patient they have to take any kind of fever in the last 24 hours serious. So they called for all kinds of tests to see where there was possibly an infection. As you all already know this was my favorite part! You would think these experiences would help me overcome my hate of needles, but so far no! Well test results came back (There was a lot not going to name them all) normal. Except again like Monday my white blood cell count was extremely low still! We still needed to wait 24 hours for blood cultures and they wanted to admit me for night to start a basic antibiotic. While we waited! As I was leaving  the ER to move to a room the ER doctor was so wonderful she told me my attitude over all of this was a joy to be around. I explained well I’m a believer and have a big God. She shared that she was a believer as well! I love how God puts people in places for reasons. (I prelude the next portion of my blog for a reason, because you will see how quickly Satan tried to come into this situation and steal my joy)

After moving into my room for the night I quickly got comfortable they got my antibiotics going. I fell in and out sleep Thursday night because many times nurses were coming in for different reasons and overall didn’t get my much sleep. They hung a sign on my door stating Nuertrpenic. You I’m the medical field understand it’s a warning to anyone coming in contact with me that I have a highly compromised immune system. That sign really made me feel uncomfortable! I knew things were getting serious. Then around 8am a nurse came to do blood cultures (these are not fun they have to be taken from two different areas) And my veins have already been poked for this. So I did what I thought best protect the veins! I told they already did this in the ER so she was wrong I didn’t need it again! So she went to go check with my floor nurse who then came in and told me. I am sorry the blood cultures did have growth which means you are positive for a blood infection. We have to do more blood cultures to make sure we are correct. Not very happy, but I let her poke me two more times. I started to get a little worried about hearing the word blood infection I asked questions, but was given very vague answers. Later Dr. B arrived he is a blood infectious doctor. He explained that there was bacteria in my blood stream classified as a blood infection. Some of you may understand the word septis (sp?). This can  be dangerous in general and I also had a very compromised immune system. So they wanted to start me on a strong antibiotic immediately and I absolutely wouldn’t be released for a few days. At the very least I was discouraged I couldn’t talk to him without crying! I was so scared they found something and devastated that I would be going home to my family. He informed this was serious with my low blood count. He would follow up soon! I continued crying I missed my kiddos and Kaden was playing varsity football that night and Kenzie and Kayleigh were cheering at the game. Then Kaden’s 16th Birthday was on Sunday and his party was Saturday night.  I knew I would miss the game now and we would have to cancel Kaden’s party. I just couldn’t pull myself together! I cried and cried. I couldn’t talk to nurses when they came in to do vitals I was too emotional! Then my fevers started returning  and my body was wearing down. I was tired discouraged. All of a sudden I felt my head starting to feel pokes everywhere, itching started my face and chest turned red and started swelling I called my nurse immediately they stopped the antibiotics and gave me Benadryl. Now we knew I wouldn’t be able to take the strong antibiotics another disappointing discovery they would now need more tests to see what other antibiotic could fight this bacteria. As the day wore on I met with an oncologist here in RI. He was recommending I start shots in my stomach that would hopefully help raise the blood counts. I had when then and would need to continue them for the duration of my hospital stay and most likely a few days following my release! But where my body was and what my reports were saying I was in a very bad position. Pretty much I needed a miracle! Physically and emotionally I was tired I was angry this was happening! I  began to let my thoughts go to very dark places! I texted Tim asking him to send out prayer requests to anyone and everyone. A friend who was checking on me asked how I was coping mentally and I mentioned I’m just tired. I had some family visitors and the mood in the room was very depressing they understood the seriousness of the situation and it was just depressing! At this time we were in contact with my oncologist on Ia City who was monitoring my reports. He decided to cancel Chemo next week and meet with me in a few weeks to discuss where I was and if I could start chemo again.  Well they left the room to give me sometime I remember I went to the restroom thinking is this it? Is this the way I’m going to die? And I clearly heard the Lord say! “You will be healed this is your promise praise me!”  I mustered my last strength got back in my hospital put on Kari Jobe pulled out a list of scriptures I have been given and started worshiping. A family member came back in and joined me. We warefare for awhile and I received a call from a prayer warrior from our church. She informed me my close friend had contacted her filled her in and she could not come up due to her being around sick people that day but was going to pray over the phone with me. A few minutes later another strong prayer warrior from our church showed up in my room. The atmosphere completely changed my peace returned as we lifted up prayers. As I learned later many more people were doing this at this time as well!!!! I received another phone call from another family friend she has a prophetic gift and just spoke over me. My attitude did a 180. I knew God’s promises. He reminding I am his child he has me and this situation. You see when my lump first appeared I was a little concerned icing it praying before I even knew they thought was a thyroid issu. God clearly said to me “Rachel it’s going to get scary, I am with you you will be safe.” I wrote that promise in a personal journal I keep and I’ve held into that word daily. Yesterday, I let it go I let Satan steal my joy! I allowed mans prognosis to dictate my hope! But only for a moment. My army rose up those that came to the hospital, those that responded to Tim’s prayer requests, those that called and spoke God’s word over me. My close friend who read into I’m tired and started calling people immediately. He knew I needed to be held up because I am weak! I cannot explain the peace after this praise and worship time. Only that God is FAITHFUL he is real and I was going to trust him for the miracle that I knew was coming! That night I went to bed with a rising fever I was physically drained, but expectant of what was to come! I rested in my Savior’s arms last night in complete peace! In the middle of the night I awoke covered in sweat! I knew my fever broke! This morning the oncologist came in and told me my white blood cell counts were in the normal range and so high he was discontinuing any further shots!!!!!!! My white blood cell count went from 2.82 to a 7!!!!!! Seriously the change in one day was nothing short miraculous. Today has been amazing we did meet with blood infection doctor again today the second blood Cultures came back with bacteria but not the streptococcus a skin bacteria ( which is better I believe!) Anyways since streptococcus showed up on the original they wanted to treat as if I had it for precaution! I will have a picc put in tomorrow. I will be released and have a home visit nurse come to my house next few weeks to give antibiotics. About 5 hours they tried another round of stronger antibiotics with a slower drip and Benadryl before hand and I had no reaction ( We specifically prayed for no more reactions to drugs!) Also, I haven’t taken any Tylenol today and have had no fevers!!!

Words cannot explain the difference from yesterday to today! I was given my miracle and I am so blessed and thankful for all the Lord has done. I wish I could share all of the verses that brought me encouragement in the last 24 hours that turned my mourning into dancing! There are too many but I want to share a few before posting this blog! I hope it can bring as much encouragement to some of you reading this that are discouraged that Satan has lied too. Because I do not believe I have ever been closer to death and in the moment when I let fear and doubt in it was scary! But the moment I praised him trusted him let him fight for me that’s when everything changed! I know some of you need to be reminded like I did!

1. You are a child of the Most High

2. He loves you! You don’t have to do or know it all!

3. Rest in his arms and let him battle for you.

4. Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t feel your deserving. Several people spoke truth to me saying Satan was lying telling me I wasn’t praying enough or having enough faith. You are enough! He gives grace He is a loving daddy not a critical ruler!

1 Cronicles 5:20b They cried out to God during the battle, and he answered their prayer because they trusted in him.

Ecclesiastes 11:5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in it’s mother womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God,who does all things.

Psalm 40:1-3 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing and a hymn of praise to our  God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.

I love all of you! Thank you for supporting my family and I! I know God has placed many of you in our lives at this point to hold us up!  I truly value all of the prayers and support!

Roller Coaster Ride

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

Absolutely! Hands down two of my most favorite verses in the bible! These were two of the first scriptures I memorized when I came back to the Lord five years ago! The promises of God’s goodness found in both these verses and the reminders that His ways are higher his plans are far more reaching than we could ever fathom are so comforting!

If you would’ve asked me six months ago what I thought I would be doing around fall 2018 my answer would’ve included many things. Getting Kiddos back to school and getting back into routine (One of my favorite things routines 😊.) Starting to run again hopefully working a 5k into the schedule before it gets too cold. Counting down the months until Tim and I planned to spend Valentines week in Mexico.  What was NOT on my mind was getting sick, planning our lives around chemo schedules, and really our whole world turned upside down! It is in circumstances like these that Jeremiah 29:11 and Proverbs 19:21 remind and encourage me that even though this would not be what I would plan for myself or my family that his plans are much larger in scale than I could even imagine! And even though at this moment it hurts and can be confusing at times my future is in His Hands and his word clearly promises prosperity and hope in that future!!!

It has taken me a minute to get back on the blogging train. The last week has held quite a few ups and downs. Last Sunday was a really good day and the last time I updated everyone! The next few days I was unable to sleep due to steroids they had me take for 5 days following chemotherapy. By day two (Tuesday) I was feeling very strung out and anxious due to lack of sleep. I called my doctors office and they prescribed me a sleep aid. So, then I took that and slept that third night and pretty much all of Wednesday. Can see from one extreme to the other took quite a toll on my body! During this time, I am completely thankful that my family once again rallied around Tim and I. Taking care of our home and our 5 children. Which believe me is not an easy task. My mom and mother in law spent many nights here taking the baby at night, making sure the older kids got to where they needed during the day, did laundry, cleaned the house, and really took care of me as well! (When I think of the sacrifice everyone is making to ensure our home runs as smoothly as possible during this time I am overwhelmed with gratitude of such amazing people God has placed in my life! I look forward to the day I can show the same support for others found in my position.) Once Thursday came I began feeling more like myself. By the weekend I felt good and decided to take on some major projects around the house, went to church Sunday and was so happy to be out and about! Then Monday came, and I felt terrible! I had a horrible migraine and (sorry for the honesty trying to keep my blog as real as real can get I guess) had a few horrible bowel movements that contained blood and was a very questionable color. After talking to my Oncologist, we decided best if I be seen in the ER in Iowa City. So, I called in the troops my mothers came out to help hold down the fort. A good family friend picked me up and drove me into Moline where I met Tim and we proceeded to the hospital. I underwent a CT scan and MRI for the Migraine, bloodwork and swabs of unmentionable places to ensure no infections. Overall, not one of the most fun days in my books. But thankfully most everything checked out okay, so it could’ve been a lot worse! My bloodwork was the only thing they found alarming which is common in chemo patients. So, they cautioned about going out in public and masking it up when I do (So if any of you see me with a mask you know why 😊.)  And told me I really need to lay low and rest not to taking on so much when I feel good! Or I will end up back there.  I am beginning to understand the importance of having to take these precautions, because so many odd things are going on in my body right now! Though it is very humbling for me to put such limitations on myself.  As a mother, wife, daughter, woman I take some pride in taking care of my family and home. It is heartbreaking to me to feel as though I am dropping the ball and relying on others for almost everything. I think this will be one of the biggest challenges I face throughout this journey. Balancing what I was capable of and what I am capable of in this short season of life!

Though this would not be anywhere near the plan I would make for myself. I will continue to hold on to the promises that His ways are not my ways and His plans are not my plans. Trusting and believing that good will overcome all these obstacles. That my vision is very short sighted compared to what he sees and does throughout all our circumstances! And that my future will be AWESOME!!!!

The Good the bad and the better!

9/3/18

Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, BUT we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Funny how this particular passage of scripture brings me back to a conversation back in college at a time when I was far from living any sort of faith and at that time really questioning all that I had been taught concerning Christ or anything really affiliated with the ‘Church.’ If I remember correctly it was in the study of psychology and we were discussing people’s reactions to uncontrolled circumstances. One the main topics brought into this discussion was something I dwelled for years. You see this young man made a statement claiming all Christians are fake he backed up his argument with case and point discussion. He claimed if Christians saw a car accident on social media (Please keep in mind this was when only Facebook and My Space were social outlets of the time LOL) and no one was hurt many of the responses would be ‘Thank-the Lord no one was hurt or injured’ praise God all are safe, ETC;  but if by chance someone was hurt badly or even killed you would only see those same Christians posting things more like ‘so sorry’ ‘Praying for you.’ The student concluded if they really believed in the God they should’ve been mad at God for letting something happen. Why should he be thanked when things go right and only to pray when things went wrong? I would be lying to say I didn’t ponder this discussion for many years because I did! Because I felt he had made a valid point. Did his theory point out the flaws in Christianity and reasonably question its authenticity?

I think about this young man and wish I could have this discussion again with him. On the surface maybe, he was right in a situation or circumstance it might be proper to ‘Thank the Lord when someone or something was saved and at the same time in our society it would be proper to give condolences to those who may be suffering a loss. But if if he would’ve had the opportunity to interact with a true believer I think that he would’ve been able to see that his points were invalid on so many levels.

You see as Christians we can boast about our faith!!! Me personally, I am excited to say with great confidence that through this experience I am not afraid of death or where I will spend eternity. I can boast in HIM… But here on this earth Paul further instructs us that we must also give God glory in our sufferings because suffering produces, perseverance, perseverance, character, and character hope! God does not say we will not suffer here on earth, but when we suffer it will grow and strengthen us into whom God has called us to be. Not to blame the Almighty, but to except his plan and purpose is far more reaching than any of us could ever imagine!

I preluded my journey update with this little reflection more for myself than any one else. You see this update could have turned very depressing quickly! The days following Chemo were very rough Days 2 and 3 in particular. Waking up and being hit by the physical and emotional walls seemed inconceivable! I have never felt my body so fatigued that I could not tend to my family’s needs as well as even my own was more than humbling than I could take! I began to let fear take over angry asking God the why, my newborn, the rest of my family why why why were we all being made to go through this?  working myself up to telling Tim I was refusing to go back to chemotherapy to be poked and prodded to only feel like I was an elderly woman in a young woman’s body. Still waiting for the dreaded moment my hair begins falling I wouldn’t even brush my hair, so I wouldn’t see any come out! And this was just scratching the surface to my hissy fit! I felt awful on so many levels!!!

This is humbling to even write! I do feel most of the time I am upbeat person with a lot to be positive about, but these two days I STRUGGLED!!!! But I am so thankful I serve a faithful God full of Grace and Mercy He knew I would have rough days, angry days, blaming days, complaining days, and many more days to come 😊 I was not even sure how I would honestly be able to blog about these days!

Thank goodness His mercies are new vey morning! Today I awoke and had slowly gained some of my strength back, the tummy aches have receded and overall had a decent restful day. Tim and I were watching a podcast from home since I didn’t quite feel up to leaving house just yet, but the pastor spoke on 1 Peter 5:8-10 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while the God of all Grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

You see we are all going to suffer maybe not the same ways, but clearly in this life we are; and; or will suffer. God is not a condemning God, but an encouraging one. That even when we have the bad days He is there, and he holds us through them. But we cannot blame him for the bad situations or circumstances that doesn’t make us fake. We believe him THROUGH the situations and circumstances.

C-DAY

8/28/18

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Well the last two weeks have flown by. I almost feel like I have a due date without that nesting energy. Knowing that chemotherapy would be starting August 29th I felt I had a lot to do prepare. I had several close friends come to visit with me for the first few days after being diagnosed. This was such a blessing  really keeping my mind off the future and what was to come! Then as the days progressed I began to get focused and what I felt I would need to get done to organize my home and prepare my family incase Mommy went down for the count for several months. My family troop really chipped in and made this happen. My mom, mother in law, Tim’s Aunt all came out one day. One watched the kiddos. Another cleaned the house.  And finally, to make it easier on Daddy or the Grandmas that are helping with laundry we rearranged, put away, clothing and labeled all the girls’ dressers and prepped for season change. Seriously, a girl could get used to this!!!!

Midweek on August 22nd we headed back down to Iowa City for some more testing. First, I was scheduled to have an Echo ultrasound to ensure my heart was in position to handle chemo. Then I had a PET scan to determine what stage of lymphoma I had. All these things are so foreign to me, so I am learning as I am going. Staging has to do with where else and how much more cancer found in your body through this test. We were told the doctor would call us with the results on Friday. So, we went home to wait again. I was slightly anxious as I was getting used to be given bad news by the doctor and expected to have a high stage. Every ache or soreness I felt in my body made me question is there cancer there too? Where else are they going to find it? But once again I felt that small still voice reminding me that stage does not matter. My hope is in the Lord! and so here I go again back to waiting and trusting game (Which by the way I am getting very good at 😉.)

Thursday I was able to have dinner with a friend who has gone through a similar situation. God is so amazing the way he places people in your life in different seasons. I was so grateful to have someone to ask questions and relate too!

Friday we again had the family troop out. Man you can get so much done when you do not have to stop and tend to a child every five minutes! We were able to prep the rest of the house and yard the way we planned before C-Day. Our entire family has rallied together and just blessed the socks off us! Words cannot express the emotional, physical, spiritual support both Tim and my family has been through this time!!! Well later that afternoon we received the call from our doctor. He told us that the cancer is spreading from my neck upwards and downwards in my chest. My lungs, bone marrow, liver groin lymph nodes all looked good! He would stage me at a 2 and we would proceed with starting chemotherapy on the following Wednesday. He was thinking more like 6-8 rounds since it has begun spreading. And no radiation. I thanked him and told him, I feel really good about this and you have made my day!’ His reply,  ‘Well I will not feel good about this until I clear you in five years.’ My response, Well I am a Christian and I believe all things work together for Good to those who love the Lord, so DR. L I believe good will come from this!’ He paused and said, Well I am glad I can be apart of it’…in his best trying not to talk to her like she’s a crazy person voice. But that’s okay I am confident God has a purpose in this! As we hung up the phone Tim, my family troop and I rejoiced together with the news of me being a stage 2! Oh, my heart is great and good to go, but I was really worried about that one.

So here we are the night before I begin chemotherapy the weekend went well! I kept busy making schedules, rule and chores lists, rewards and consequences charts, (so the littles know they cannot bamboozle people helping take care of them) spending time with Mommy boxes (So if I do not feel well I will not have to put much thought or effort into ways to spend time together they are already there ready to go.) I feel like a teacher again going on extended leave making sub plans! Hoping and praying that I have done enough to ensure my home will not fall apart and run smoothly with me not functioning at capacity.

Then today I began to reflect. The verse I referenced at the beginning of the blog was one someone shared with me this week. I really began to think. I absolutely trust in the Lord and have put my faith in him for the long haul of this journey, but the last week and half as I have been major prepping I realized I had rushed around so much thinking I had to get everything done and ready, but really, I was allowing my control freak nature to take over. This is how I could control my situation if I kept myself busy not thinking about what’s to come I am not scared I have too much to do to allow myself to be anxious. I do not need to pray about I am too busy to allow myself to think about it! And as I sit here about to go to bed to rise tomorrow to face the unknown to begin what many have said will be the most difficult days of my life, fear is knocking at my door! I am so humbled by what God has shown me though prepping, planning keeping busy is not a bad thing, BUT it will truly not keep out the fear and anxiety. Only by prayer and petitioning with thanksgiving and presenting my requests to the Lord will I be filled with a peace that is indescribable that will guard my heart and mind. So as C-Day has finally arrived with nothing left to prep or plan. I can rest assured that when fear, doubt, anxiety tries to creep in my Savior is whom I need and WILL rely on!

Incase I am unable to blog for a few days or more I really want to thank everyone who has connected with me one way or another! I truly believe the outpouring and support I received through this has helped me stay so positive! Your prayers have kept the enemy from getting into my head telling me lies or bringing on doubt from what God has promised me! God did not supply me with one troop for this battle he prepared an army for me and each one of you that has kept my family in your prayers, thoughts and offered help I feel is part of this army and for that I am so thankful for each one of you!!!!

 

 

 

Three in One

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your path.

8/14/18

I am beginning to lose my faith in doctors! Our experience has been so wishy washy it has had a profound impact on us and our families. Yesterday we checked into Iowa City had my first biopsy a little scary, but the staff was amazing! They calmed me down I was able to have a quick procedure completed. You know me, and needles are NOT friends. One if the doctor started up a conversation that was quite interesting he explained he had 7 children with an eighth on the way all seven were boys! We instantly bonded as parents of big families. This kept me pretty occupied while they worked on my neck! After that we were sent to the cancer ward to wait to speak to a doctor about our results. This too went very smoothly. He went over what they were looking for the past results that brought us here. Then he mentioned the fact he really believed we had been brought in early and that the biopsy I had just done was as a precaution. We instructed to wait in town until the next morning to be sure. So, we reserved a hotel room went to lunch and enjoyed a night without children napping and watching movies all in all I felt a pretty good trade for being stuck in the neck six more times! This morning we woke to a phone call from the doctor’s assistant saying the preliminary labs had come in and NO cancer we could go home and follow up in six weeks to monitor my thyroid which was being diagnosed as thyritis and would be treated with sythriod once a day until then! Our doctor would call this afternoon to confirm when the final pathology report was completed! We were thrilled!!! We did a little celebrating if you can imagine what parents of five kids alone in a hotel room might do to celebrate 😉 Then we called our parents to share the news. We choose to hold off telling everyone else until final report was confirmed. Well we returned home picked up the kiddos and got home in time to prepare for backpack night. About an hour before heading out the door to meet and greet the kids teachers for this year the doctor called….. I knew instantly it was not good I put him on speaker for Tim and I to both hear whatever news was coming. I think you can probably guess where this is going. He apologized profusely in the final pathology reports they looked at the cells differently and more in depth and in these samples the did indeed find lymphoma. He was sorry because the last call was such better news and he was not happy having to relay this information. We were informed we would need to come back to the hospital they had a meeting with the best lymphoma doctor at the university at 8am. This time the devastation hit like a five-ton boulder had crushed me! The freedom we had felt, the joy, like a second chance to look at life through new eyes by narrowing escaping that dreaded word. I despised the idea of once again calling family to change what we had already told them!  This time I was completely numb the shock of being cleared to you need to come in to start your cancer treatment was a lot to take in in one day. Tonight, as I go to bed I am holding on to the verse ‘Trust in the Lord with all thine heart!’ That is all I have at this moment. I do not understand the why and may never, but that is okay I don’t have too! I only have to trust in him and I can do that!

 

 

 

Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

8/15/18

Today started off the hardest of all days so far. Reality of the situation sunk in as Tim and I entered the Lymphoma Cancer Center. It took everything inside of me to hold back tears as I checked in at the front desk. As soon as we sat down, I looked around it was very apparent that I was the youngest patient being seen at this time. I saw women with no hair and everyone was wearing masks to protect themselves after the toll chemo has taken on them and their immune systems. I began to feel very sick, I knew I would burst any moment. I bolted to bathroom practically hyperventilating, tears streaming down my face. Crumbling to the floor sobbing I let it all sink in. This is real its happening and there is nothing I can do to stop what the immediate future holds. As I grasp this truth I pulled myself together I gripped the sink looked in the bathroom mirror and said Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Over and over again as I gained peace back over my circumstance. Though I was not completely calm I ended my pep talk with Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Now I was ready to go out and face what was ahead of me knowing even though it may be an emotional time, God has still got this, and I am NOT alone nor without hope! Soon after we were called back to meet with the Lymphoma doctor. It was a very somber mood that settled in the room. Discussing the inevitable; cancer, and my age, having a new born with four other children at home brought sadness to the table. The doctor apologized for the raw deal but was very direct in everything and I felt good talking to him. With the ups and downs we have faced last week and half I feel we need a doctor who is upfront and not sugar coating anything. We talked about treatment. This was all new to me. I was taken aback with the news that chemo will usually take your hair after first treatment. I naively thought maybe if I only had a few treatments that wouldn’t happen. We talked about different stages and that the pet scan would determine if there were cancer cells anywhere else in my body the amount and locations would ultimately determine what stage I am in! I would be scheduled to do this in one week. Then after the doctor reviewed these he would decide how many chemotherapy treatments I will have. He expressed three at the minimum and six at the maximum with possible radiation to my neck. I would begin these August 29 and have one every three weeks until I finished the amount deemed necessary. I left the office feeling very down! Tim and did not speak much on the way home we just held hands listening to worship music each of us once again processing in our own ways. I began contacting close friends and family that did not already know what was going on to ensure they heard the news from me personally. It was very difficult conversations to keep having, and so this afternoon I was so emotionally drained I took a long nap while Tim went to get the kids. We have decided to hold off telling them for a bit just, so we can process everything a little more ourselves.

As the evening continued with a normal routine not much had seemed to change besides the lingering memory that plagued my mind of earlier that today. After the older kids went to bed I decided I desperately needed some quiet time with the Lord. I turned on Kari Jobe Pandora and sat on the floor next to Kendrick in the living room. I began worshiping My Savior and Creator knowing this situation did not surprise him. That He is walking beside me. I am 100 percent positive I am going to see him work in mighty ways throughout this new season of life. As my head was bowed I felt my amazing loving husband coming to sit down beside me and join with me in praise. One by one each girl came out and joined us (I am sure some of it may have had to do with getting out of bedtime) but was still very sweet. At this point Kaden had already gone to bed upstairs and could not hear us. As we were praising I had a request ‘Lord if you would only bring Kaden down here it would mean so much to me?’ Not even kidding less than 5 minutes later a light came on upstairs. Kaden poked his head down the stairs to ask what we were doing. He came down and laid beside me without even asking (If you have ever raised a teenager you know how asking for family quality time is normally a knock out full on fight sometimes not even worth the trouble.) But here he was right next to me and I was so grateful God answered such a small prayer request. Gazing at my beautiful family all curled up on the floor together praising God. I realized how truly blessed I am and how happy and thankful I was to just be in the moment with all them! And so, with that one of the hardest days I have experienced so far ended so preciously.

 

Psalm 136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.

8/20/18

In my current situation I have been reflecting much more than I have in the past. Realizing how truly blessed I am and have been throughout my life. First and foremost, God has given me the most caring supportive spouse on this planet. Our connection was instantaneous. I love being around him, the way he loves Jesus, me, our family, and the humor he can bring to almost any situation. I know that God has teamed us together for many reasons and right now he has been my rock. My beautiful children. Honestly, there have been times I have struggled with the idea of having five children. That was not the original plan I had for my life, but as look at each of them I love them so much and see God’s plan and purpose blooming in these little people I get to call mine!!!! More recently I have been surrounded with love by our close family and friends. It is an amazing feeling to know you have been given a strong support system. Even the timing of this cancer appearing a few days before delivery. Most likely if it would’ve come at a different time it would’ve taken me awhile to get into a doctor (because we all know as mommas we just don’t have time to take for ourselves) And this process would be occurring much later and could be a lot worse. Knowing the impact chemotherapy can have on your ability to have children it was another blessing knowing we had already decided our family was complete! Finally, one of the greatest blessing I have had on this journey so far is my Savior. The closeness and oneness I have felt with him in times of desperation are almost indescribable. The sweetness of his voice when he whispers encouragement and reminders of his promises at times of hopelessness. I know that his love most certainly endures forever, and I am so blessed to be in His hands!