Monthly Archives: April 2008

Comfort

I have a TON of cards that I keep in a basket for safe-keeping. In fact, my mom and I went through them a bit last night. Every day I get cards and they remind me that people are praying and how much they care. A friend from church sent a card today. Here is the verse she included:

2 Corinthians 1:3-5: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

So Jeremy has been out of town since Sunday and my mom came to stay with me. She left this afternoon and I cried. She only lives 10 minutes away, but I cried! This chemo really gets me blue for about a week. She promised to come back later that night if I needed her but I tried to be brave. She left and I went about doing the usual things…..and you know what…..HE DID GIVE ME COMFORT! I thought I’d be crying all evening and she’d be back by bedtime, but I did just fine. The kids kept me busy and the nausea seemed to subside a bit and we did OK. They’re tucked in bed now and I’m half watching American Idol while I type.

I am comforted daily by the people God has blessed me with and the simple reminders that I CAN DO THIS!

Good News First

I’m going to give you some good news first. I AM NOT BRCA 1 or 2 GENE POSITIVE! This is very good news and a relief. I don’t have to wonder for the next 20 years if my children carry the gene or if my sister has it. Whew….I am relieved. I guess my cancer is environmental of some sort…..water, virus, who knows. I doubt I’ll ever know.

The bad news is I’m not a very good rebel. I skipped my neulasta shot and now I have a urinary tract infection. They might not be connected…..but I feel pretty yucky so I’m regretting it. Tomorrow I go get my labs done so we’ll see…..they may still make me get the shot anyway.

I’ve felt yucky….but not nearly as sick….so the neulasta is it….but I guess if it makes me healthy and fights infection I should grin and bear it.

Today’s Rantings

Why does the weather turn cold every time I have chemo? It’s crazy. It’s supposed to be in the 50’s here all week and maybe even a bit of snow on monday! Yikes. I guess it goes with the cloud that suddenly appears about two days after I have chemo and doesn’t leave for a good week. Then suddenly it dissapears and I am OK again. It must be the chemo drugs and brain chemistry or something.

Here’s something I did. I’m not sure if I was brave or stupid. We’ll have to wait and see. I basically skipped my neulasta shot yesterday. I just couldn’t do it. I swear it makes me sicker than chemo and I just couldn’t go get it. It’s supposed to kick in my white blood cells to fight infection and well…..I thought I’d just see if I could go without it. I’m also seeing which makes me sicker…..the chemo or the shot. Let’s hope this little expiriment doesn’t land me in the hospital with an infection. I’m also doing some herbal suppliments of my own that are supposed to improve white blood cell counts so….we’ll see if it works well enough. I just saved my insurance company like $3500…..no kidding….the shot is SO expensive.

My nurse left me a message that we’d let it go for now but they could lower the amount of my neulasta shot……LOWER THE AMOUNT! You mean I could have less of that stuff that makes me dog sick! I think they’re going to coax me to come in on monday. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll just ask for a blood test to see what my levels are.

Jeremy leaves tomorrow and my mom will come stay with me for a few days. This could be adding to my blue-ness. He’ll be gone till Thursday. I already miss him.

“Fear Not”

My dad always said that high school friends fade, but college friends are friends for life. That is true for me. I have some really great college friends. (We met at Greenville College in Southern Illinois) We get together at least once a year and more often if possible. When I found out I had breast cancer, my dear friend Karin sent me a package (one of many cards and other things she did for me….and by the way….they live in Nashville and her husband Matt is a music producer and he recently published his first book called “Illuminated,” so check it out…..it was a great read!). In the package was a hat she knitted herself that I wear every evening and morning when I am cold and a wonderful little ring that is engraved with this inscription: “Fear Not.”

The biggest challenge in the cancer battle is not really one of health. It’s not even really the little day to day things like feeling sick, losing your hair or being tired. The biggest challenge is fear. The first few weeks after a cancer diagnosis is a daze. I remember my first meeting with my family physician (who we absolutely adore and who has been so helpful with complimentary medicine). I remember he said…..”you can’t be afraid Jen…..don’t let fear take over you.” He also wanted me to stay away from jumping on any “sure thing” bandwagons. He wanted me to eat healthy, do some complimentary medicine as well as chemo, but not get caught up in following every possible cure. This causes more stress….and anymore stress right now is not good.

Fear causes us to do many desperate things. We are overcome by it at times. But I’ve learned a few things about fear over the past few weeks. It’s a daily battle. And it is a battle. I’m not battling cancer as much as I am battling fear. But fear isn’t from God. ! John 4:18 says, “there is no love in fear. Perfect love drives out fear.” Right before that in the middle of verse 16 it says “God is love.” GOD IS LOVE! (I’m repeating myself to make sure I get it:)) I don’t need to fear, God doesn’t want me to fear and fear is definately not from Him. We could refrase verse 18 as “there is no God in fear!” He sets up camp in our hearts with love, and….I love this…..He drives out the fear. He doesn’t want it around me or you. I’m envisioning my God running after my fear with a big stick…..saying get out…..you don’t belong!

So I battle with Satan for my sanity and my stress level. I’ve decided he really doesn’t deserve my time….not with God and a big stick. But those questions creep in late at night….like “will they get it all.” “What will I do when they take off the bandages after the mastectomy,” “How bad will radiation hurt,” and then the big ones….”what if it comes back or Metastasize,” and if so, will I get to see my kids grow up?” Lots of what-if’s…..which we all live with daily….we just think about alot more with a serious condition like cancer.

Then in church last week the passage was in Jeremiah17:7-8 which says this:

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord. Whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when the heat comes, its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

So I’m sending out roots, and even when the heat comes I’m trying to stay green with my God of love…not fear:)

Oh…And I love the ring that reminds me “Fear Not” everyday.

High Enough

I had chemo today. I had to convince the nurse and doctor on call that the platelets were high enough for me at 85,000. Whew….it was a close call. They don’t like to do it under 100,000 but will if it’s close. I must have just squeeked by:) Thank goodness I didn’t have to come back! We arrived at 12:45 and didn’t start chemo till 3:00 pm. It was a busy day at the Cancer Center.

I’m off to bed…..not looking forward to the next week. It will be a tough week since Jeremy is off on a work related trip….he’s leaving Sunday and will be gone till Thursday night…..yikes! Thanks for praying!

Waiting

Low platelets again. We’re waiting till Thursday. My doctor had thought about changing one of the drugs but feels that even though these are hard on my platelets its the best combo of meds for my type of cancer, so we’ll just wait a few days till they recover. Although from here on out we’re going to request to change my chemo day to Wednesday or Thursday so I always have a full 3 weeks to recover. They always reschedule me for Mondays and I think I just don’t recover in 2 1/2 weeks when we’ve had to postpone.

Hey….at least I get to enjoy this gorgeous day:)

Round #4

Chemo round number 4 is scheduled for tomorrow. If you think about it…..pray that my platelets are high enough…..I hate having to go in just to have it postponed:(

Thanks!

Hope Has a Way….

Michigan has finally emerged from its winter slumber. The past three days I’ve been wandering around my yard looking for peeks of my perenials starting to emerge. There’s something about those perenials….the way they keep coming back year after year, winter after winter, and they spread and grow and thrive. I love spring. I love the reminder of new life, of things to come, of hope after a long cold winter. I’ve been hooked on singer Sara Groves since my good friend Shelli introduced me to her. Here’s a song that keeps me wandering around looking for glimpses of hope.

Hope Has a Way….
You do your work the best that you can
you put one foot in front of the other
life comes in waves and makes it’s demands
you hold on as well as your able

You’ve been here for a long long time

Hope has a way of turning it’s face to you
just when you least expect it
you walk in a room
you look out a window
and something there leaves you breathless
you say to yourself
it’s been a while since I felt this
but it feels like it might be hope

It’s hard to recall what blew out the flame
it’s been dark since you can remember
you talk it all through to find it a name
as days go on by without number

You’ve been here for a long long time

Hope has a way of turning it’s face to you
just when you least expect it
you walk in a room
you look out a window
and something there leaves you breathless
you say to yourself
it’s been a while since I felt this
but it feels like it might be hope

Here’s another glimpse of hope. Click on Toddler Planet under links. A fellow IBC survivor finished her treatment and was just told she was NED (no evidence of disease). Yay!

PBS Wednesday Night

PBS is airing a special tomorrow night called “The Truth About Cancer.” Most of us are trying to avoid, stay away from or get rid of cancer so it might be a good show to watch.

As for me I FEEL GREAT! It seems when I recover I recover quite well! It seems like I stay sick a bit longer each time, but as long as I have a good week in between I feel like I can do this! I couldn’t do this without your prayers. This clergygirl is learning the power of prayer in a whole new way. Thanks-you! And thanks for your encouraging words, verses, meals, help with children. I am so blessed!

If you think about it….would you pray for a friend of mine who has been battling breast cancer for almost 10 years now. She is on a new chemo schedule and I ran in to her at the Cancer Center yesterday and I can tell she’s not doing to well. Her name is Martha.

Exposed

I exposed myself yesterday. OK….not really…but sort of….lol! We took the family swimming and I had a dilemma. I began to think about it ahead of time. Would I, or would I not go without anything on my bald head. I’ve not gone public with my white shiner….and I wasn’t sure I was ready to be that brave. I already get many sympathetic stares with my scarves.

I decided to ask Charis and Meleah. How would they feel about mommy going swimming in the buff (naked head I mean). We had a nice discussion over lunch. Meleah thought going buff would be just fine. Charis got the giggles and thought people might laugh. She voted I wear a swim cap.

When we got to the YMCA the girls and I changed into our suits. There I was, bald head for everyone in the locker room to see. So far so good….no major stares…..but then again most people try NOT to stare in locker rooms! I looked at Charis and I said “seriously Charis….do you think its OK for mommy to go swimming like this.” I don’t know if she was just so anxious to get swimming or what….but she said…”mom, I think its OK.”

So with everyone in agreement I made a major step. I went bald. And you know, no one really stared. I actually don’t mind if they do. Some people try not to look. They purposely won’t look your way or divert their eyes. I know if I saw a bald woman with a one year old in her arms, I would take a second glance. It’s not that we mean to stare, it’s just we feel for people who have struggles in their lives. I actually find it comforting that people care enought to look a bit longer. Some even come up and say something….. like “hang in there.” One person even gave me a little hug. Now that I know what I know….I will probably say a quick prayer for them.

Matthew 6:25-33 is all about not worrying. Summing it up it says don’t worry about your clothes (or hair), your body, what you will eat or drink. If God provides for the animals, even the little birds, won’t he provide for you.”

So I learn to be strong and couragious. I am learning not to care so much about my looks. I’ve always been a bit self-consious maybe vain even, a little bit too focused on me. We ladies have a way of doing that don’t we. I’ve never been one to wear lots of make-up….a little mascara for my very few eye lashes. People would always ask me “are you sick” when I didn’t wear mascara…lol! However…..they are becoming so few now….that I’m not sure I’ll even be able to wear mascara much longer. (This too will pass since I only have 7 more weeks of chemo!)

So here I am learning to dig deeper. Wanting to be inward focused rather than outward focused. Stressing less about the little things, knowing God cares for me and even has plans for my bald head…..even if it is just learning to be bold.