Monthly Archives: December 2008

Eyelash Drug Approved

Throw out your fake ones!  Now there’s hope for eyelashes after chemo!  For me, everything else has grown back (not that you want to know that…..but not my eyelashes.  Oh, I have a few.  Very few. 

Check out this new drug discovered when treating glaucoma…..a side effect was long eyelashes! 

I’ll give it a few more months since I’m a little worried about things I put in my body now….but I just might have to give it a try! Woohoo….I’ve never had long eyelashes in my life!

Olive Oil Fights Breast Cancer

Since I’m Her2 positive this interests me.  On one hand I think….wow I should eat more olive oil.  On the other hand I am a bit angry because I think…..”I do eat a lot of olive oil.”  I cook probably 90% of my food with olive oil!  Oh well.  I’ve thinkcooking it makes it rancid so maybe the trick is to eat it uncooked (per the article on it being cold pressed).  Maybe I’ll need to go to a spoonful of plain olive oil a day…..lol! 

Here’s a bit of the article:

“Researchers from the University of Granada in Spain wondered why a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil appeared to lower breast cancer risk in some studies but not in others. They theorized that the answer could depend on the type of cancer. Their research found that two chemicals in olive oil—lignans and secoiridoids—block the HER2 protein that causes breast cancer tumors to grow more rapidly than other forms of the disease.”

You can read the rest here at Newsmax.

Blog Book Tour

My life has been so richly blessed by those I’ve met along this journey.  It has certainly been the light in my darkness.  A few weeks ago a man emailed me asking if I would host a day during his book tour.  His wife died a few years ago from a very similar breast cancer and the book is a memoir of their life together.  He has sent me a book and it’s such a beautiful way to celebrate and honor her life (I’m having a hard time putting it down…..but I do need to sleep!).    I’ve never hosted a book tour but I’m excited to give it a try.  Here’s a link to Chad’s blog site “The Moutray Chronicles”  Here’s a link to the book tour in case you’d like to check out some other blogs along the way.  I will be hosting on January 22nd.  You can also buy the book at Lulu.com

Post-Mastectomy Pain

The good news is that there is nothing of concern going on in my chest.  The bad news is that I’m in a lot of pain on my left side.  It looks like I just strained or pulled a muscle. 

I had an appointment with my onclologist yesterday and she reassured me that everything looks great.   She prescribed me something to rub on the painful area….I think it’s probably similar to biofreeze or something to that effect.  I’m also going back to physical therapy.  I’m going to try a new place called Advantage Physical Therapy that a friend recommended.  I guess they really work her over with massage and I’m feeling like some good massage would help me.  So I’ll look forward to starting that up again.

I’m anxious to get back to exercising but I’m also anxious for this to heal so I’m going to take it easy till I am sure everything is healed up.

The last bit of good news today is Ithat I don’t need to have anymore herceptin.  My port is coming out and I don’t need to go to my last treatment.  We’re taking the port out just in case that’s what is causing the pain.  I’m so glad to be officially done with treatment!  The herceptin worked!

Our Family Christmas Letter

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Where do we start!  What a year it has been.  “Challenging” might be the best word to describe it!  Most of you know that Jen was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer on February 3rd.   So most of last year has been focusing on life with cancer and getting her better.  Her treatment entailed 6 rounds of chemo, a double mastectomy and 6 weeks of radiation.  We are happy to say that the pathology report came back completely clean after surgery, which indicates the chemo worked and the cancer is completely gone from the lymph nodes and everywhere else!  She will be going through reconstruction surgery sometime this spring.  They don’t say she’s cured till the cancer has been gone for 5 years, but we are thankful it seems to be gone and are prayerful and hopeful it will not return.  Jen also blogs about her experience at www.clergygirl.wordpress.com

  Jeremy started his second year at Parker Hannifin in Kalamazoo this fall as a quality manager and continues to enjoy it.  This year he’s had a lot to juggle with a sick wife and a new job.  He had to put a lot of his life on hold.  Jen and the kids think he might qualify for “super dad” after this year. 

  Charis is 7 and started second grade.  She loves everything to do with creativity.  She loves to write and draw and comes up with all kinds of stories and creations. 

  Meleah is 4 and enjoys preschool and ballet.  She loves everything girlie.dresses, make-up, cutting her own hair, princesses and anything pink. 

  Elijah has been such a joy this past year to Jen as she has struggled with her health issues.  He is an extra cuddly little boy and spends a lot of time hugging, kissing and sitting on her lap.  He also adores trains, trucks and balls and has an impressive throw for a one year old.  His sisters are often the recipients of his tosses (even when they aren’t ready!).

  We are especially thankful for our family and friends who helped us immensely this year.  We are grateful for your love and support.

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace

as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope

by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Roman 15:13

When Times are Good

I’ve been slowly reading through 1 Kings and I thought by now something would have jumped out at me.  I usually read till something stands out and then I research it or write about it or simply ponder and pray.  But lately nothing has jumped out at me….and well….instead I’ve pondered that.   In 1 Kings Solomon becomes King of Israel and a lot of good things are happening.  He builds a glorious temple, there’s relative peace and prosperity in the land, there’s no famine.  It’s all in all a pretty good time for Israel.  So I’ve been thinking about when times are good.

Times have been pretty good lately.  Life is getting back to normal.  Besides my rather painful pulled muscle I’m healthy and my family is healthy. 

It’s these times I have the tendency to pull away from God.  Life gets busy with the good things in life.  Christmas Shopping, school activities, and even church activities fill our time and communing with God becomes secondary and sometime obsolete. 

It’s when I’m really hurting that I sit at the feet of my Father.  I can sense his comfort.  His loving arms.

When I read about Solomon I sense his desire for closeness to God even in a time of prosperity.   Here’s a sample of Solomon’s gratitude in 1 Kings 8:22-24.

“Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven and said:
       “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.”

It reminds me of my kids when they’re given candy or a gift.  They get so excited to “have” something and they become so engrossed in their joy they forget to be thankful.  Their attention has shifted to the “gift” rather than the “giver.”

I recently watched the movie called “Facing the Giants.”   I can’t say it was my favorite movie.  It had the making of a “health, wealth and prosperity” gospel….but there was a theme that wove through it that stood out to me.  Basically, through everything good or bad, they decided they would praise God.  In defeat, they would give him praise, and in victory they would give him praise.

I have come to realize that it’s in the good time that I establish my relationship with God.  So that on nights like last Friday, when I become stricken with fear that the cancer has come back…..I can hear a resounding “trust me” from somewhere in the darkness.  It comes through clear as day.  It is a “blatant” calm to my storm. 

It is my great desire to keep covenant with God through times of prosperity, as well as times of turmoil.  To give him praise always.  To read his love story to us constantly even when it doesn’t move my heart.

Here’s my prayer, borrowed with liberties from Solomon in 1 Kings 8:57-61

“May the LORD my God abide with me as he has for generations before me; may he never leave me nor forsake me.  May he turn my heart to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commands, decrees and regulations because they are safe and comforting.  And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people according to each day’s need,  so that all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.  My desire is for my heart to be wildly committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, right now and always. (Amen)”

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Another day in the life of cancer….

I hate that I have to have “cancer” in the back of my mind now every time I have aches or pains.  I hate that when my chest area hurts the first person I need to call is my “way to busy” oncologist…..like she needs me to whine about something else.  

Yesterday I emailed her because my chest area has become increasingly painful.  I think it’s the area that is considered my oblique muscles.  They’ve been hurting since post-surgery so I’ve come to expect it.  But last week it started hurting more.  I, of course, want to wave it off to lifting weights and exercising…..but of course there’s always that “what if….”

By 5:00 pm today (everything bad happens at 5 pm on Fridays…..don’t doctors come to expect it….lol) I was having difficulty breathing.  So this time I called my dear doctor.  She told me I needed to go to ER and rambled off some big long medical terms.   She told me she would call so they would expect me.

I’m still not panicky…..just sad I’m in so much pain.  I called my mom who came to watch the kids and Jeremy and I went off for an evening in the ER…..hoping and praying that would be it and nothing more.

They were waiting for me when I got there (and so was my dear oncologist…she is truly amazing) and I immediately had all kinds of tests.  And of course…..they tell you they are ruling out the worst case scenarios first.  Which of course taps into my worst fear…..metastatic cancer of the lungs. 

My mind is dancing around with…..”how will I do this?”  “How will I react to the news,” “Will I be able to emotionally handle another go at cancer?”  “What will my kids do.”  All those crazy “what if’s”

So we turned off the “cancer thoughts” and turned on the TV.

I kept praying…..”God, please let it not be cancer again.”

Jeremy kept trying to reassure me. 

Dang it….I was sure it was muscular when I arrived at this hospital……why do sterile white walls and doctors put me in a PANIC!  Arghhh!

Thankfully, after what seemed like eternity, the doctor came back to say that the blood work was fine, the x-rays were fine and the Cat Scan of my lungs showed nothing major, but maybe residual pneumonia spots (sound familiar Kristin….lol)

It is most likely muscular.  Gee…..after cutting through my muscles for a mastectomy, radiating the heck out of my chest wall, and now trying to exercise to ward off any big C return…..do you think my poor pectoral and oblique muscles are a bit sore. 

Sigh….can you tell they put me on loopy pain meds again?  I’m going to bed.

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Top 10 Breast Cancer Stories of 2008

I’m amazed at several things about this year of 2008 with breast cancer.  First, from the time I was diagnosed to now, the rate of breast cancer in women in the US went from 1 in 7 to 1 in 6….at least in print from my observation.  Secondly, it would appear that we are making significant ground on treating breast cancer which is rather hopeful.  Now if we could just figure out how to NOT get it!

Here’s looking back on breast cancer in 2008.

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Constant Reminders

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My oncologist told me that I can start looking into reconstruction.  I’m planning to travel to Northwestern in Chicago for the DIEP flap.

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