Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Three Years

Well, once again it's been a while since I've written a post. I couldn't let this day go by without reflecting on the past three years. I know some would say why even acknowledge what could very easily be deemed as the worst day of my life. However, if I've learned anything over this time it is to be thankful for every single moment. With this mind set, how could I not recognize the path that God has led my life starting with that very day three years ago. I think back to that dreary, rainy, dreadful day and it brings such emotion. Emotion that I hope I don't ever have to feel again. I can't explain how vulnerable and discouraged you feel when you are told that your chances of living for another 5 years are very, very slim. Especially when your sweet baby girls are just 4, 2 and 7 months old. I am very certain that I cried myself to sleep that night.

Today was a completely different kind of day. All day today, even before my feet touched the floor this morning, I thanked God for every experience I got to have. Every giggle, every hug, every time Mylee got up to bat at her softball game this evening.....not a single moment was taken for granted. I'm so very thankful to still be here to enjoy these sweet blessings. So here's to another 60 years of sweet blessings! Thank you God for healing me!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Unimaginable relief!

Shew! That doesn't even come close to explaning the relief that I felt as Dr. Stephens let me know that my scan looked great! The last few days have been mentally exhausting to say the least. With cancer there is a lot of physical hurt and pain, but that doesn't even compare to the mental challenges that come along with it. I think my nerves forced my mind to talk my body into literally having physical pains this past week which is why I was so scared to hear the results. Deep down I know that God has healed me, but I can't help but give in to a little bit of that doubt that creeps into my mind in the weeks leading up to a scan.
We pulled into the parking lot, Josh turned off the car and I said I think I am going to throw up. My nerves had gotten the best of my stomach . We walked in, let them know we were there and took our seats as we waited for them to call my name. It was my turn, so I went in to the nurses area to have my vitals taken. The nurse got ready to take my blood pressure and in walks Dr. Stephens, with this serious look on his face. My heart hit the floor and I thought surely he isn't going to give me the bad news right here. He knelt down and told the nurse not to take my blood pressure yet, he looked at me and said your scan was clean, he smiled and then he jokingly told the nurse to go ahead and take my BP. Oh my gosh! I was so thankful! I started to tear up and then they called Josh back and I got to share the news with him.

I'm not exactly sure why I was so nervous about this scan, other than the fact that I thought I did have some tenderness around my liver, but I think it was more than that. I think it was possibly a little reminder of how sweet and precious life is and how vulnerable we all actually are to losing it. It definitely reminded me to soak up every moment and enjoy the time that we are given because we never know what tomorrow will bring. For now I am just going to bask in the excitement of still being CANCER FREE! Thank you again for all of the love and support and most importantly for the prayers....they were answered!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Let me just start by saying that scan weeks are not my favorite weeks. I am usually fine until about a week or so before hand and then I start to feel my anxiety rise and my confidence level go down. I try to just pray through those times until I feel peaceful about it. I have a scan tomorrow and I can tell you that this time has been no different. Actually, I am more nervous about this one than any that I have had in the past year. I'm not exactly sure why.....which really makes me nervous. I hope and pray that I'm not being prepped for what I fear the most. It's so difficult going in for the results, waiting in the waiting room, knowing that your life can completely change in an instant. So if you have a few extra minutes, please pray that I will have a clean scan and that I will have peace while we wait for the results.Thank you so much!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

What a year!

It's been a long time...okay a really, really long time since I've blogged, but there was no way I was going to let this year get away without taking a few minutes to reflect on it.

Right after my last treatment in January, Josh said that this was going to be a great year for us. He was right! This is the first year since 2008 that I can honestly say I'm a little sad to say good-bye to. It's no secret that 2009 and 2010 were the most challenging years of my life (with no other year even coming close :o)). I now know what it is like to have what seems like the worst year of your life to the next being absolutely wonderful. Sometimes it's hard when we are going through tough times to see the "light at the end of the tunnel" that things can get better, but believe me...they can!

This year has been a great year for so many reasons, but mostly just because I got to enjoy it. I wasn't sick or tired from chemo or surgery, I celebrated my first anniversary of being cancer free, we got to go on vacation, I haven't had to miss one single party or leader day at the girls school, God blessed Josh with a new job completely out of the blue. I could go on and on. We have seen blessing after blessing this year and not a single one has gone unnoticed.

I was asked the other day what the highlight of Christmas was for me. My answer was simply just being here. I soaked up every single moment of the day. From the second the girls woke up and their faces lit up when they saw the presents under the tree to the very last second of the night. I didn't let a moment go by without being thankful just for being there in that moment with the people I love.

So as I said I am a little sad to say good bye to 2011, mostly for the fear of the unknown, however I am really excited about what 2012 holds for us. I think it is going to be another really great year and I hope yours is as well! Happy New Year!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Just. So. Thankful.

I was driving yesterday by myself, I had just left Mylee's school where I was helping her teacher with some things, Addy was with her great grandma and I was on my way to pick Ava up at preschool so we could go to lunch.....just the two of us. As I was driving, I just started thinking about how thankful I am for what may seem like such little things to some people. Last year at this time I was getting ready to start my first round of chemo since the recurrence (actually it was my 13th round if you count the previous chemo). I didn't realize how awful it was going to make me feel. I was sick for 9 days straight. I barely got out of bed, so helping out at Mylee's school or picking Ava up from school and certainly going to lunch was completely impossible! As I thought about what a great day I was having, I just couldn't help, but thank God for every single moment. I am truly blessed!

A couple of people have asked me if I've heard Martina McBride's new song, "I'm Gonna Love You Through It". It's a wonderful song. It totally reminds me of Josh and I and everything we have been through the past couple of years. It reminds me of how thankful I am for Josh and how he stood right by my side the entire time. When I was weak, he was strong. When I cried, he was there to dry my eyes. When I didn't want to go in for another round of chemo, he would hold my hand and make me go in. So thankful for him! (Here is a link if you want to listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=WxIt70j_SPk).

We are in a series at church about prayer and a couple of weeks ago it was about how God answers BIG prayers. I just have to say that I am SO thankful He answers big prayers!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

For those of you who haven't heard, it is with great relief that I get to tell you that I had a CT scan yesterday morning and found out that there is still no evidence of cancer in my body. So, so thankful! The days leading up to a scan are always a little stressful. I usually start to feel my anxiety level rise a little about a week or two before hand. This time was different. It really didn't start weighing on me until Thursday. I felt very confident that the scan was going to be clean, but there is just always that small amount of doubt. I know too well what it's like to have your life completely change in an instant. I usually just pray myself through those times. I don't have another scan scheduled until January. This means that I get to have a Christmas without the thought of it possibly being my last hanging over my head. So excited about that!

Our church is having a special worship night "Because" tonight at the Victory.  I am so excited to get to worship Him because he loves me no matter what! He gave me the gift of life, not once but twice! I can't wait...it's going to be an awesome night!

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. I am one blessed woman!!!

Friday, September 2, 2011

My story....in a nutshell!

I've been asked a few times here lately about my story and realized although lots of people "know" my story, they don't all know the details. I love getting to share my journey with others and give hope to those who may be going through the same journey or a similar one. My "cancerversary" is coming up next weekend and in celebration, I thought I would share what God has done. So here goes....

First of all, I just want to say how thankful I am to be alive. On May 8, of 2009 at the age of 29 I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer that had metastasized to my liver. The tumor was found when my gynecologist felt a mass during my annual pelvic exam. I have three little girls, Mylee, Ava & Adalyn and at the time they were 4, 2 ½ , & 7 months old. My very first thought when I heard the words “you have cancer” was “o’ my gosh, I’m going to die and my little girls are going to grow up without a mother”.My hopes and dreams went from wanting to see them graduate high school, go to college, get married and become mothers themselves to asking God to please at least let me see them go to kindergarten. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I had virtually no symptoms and the few that I did have, I chalked up to the c-section that I had had seven months earlier and stress from our 2 year old who was having health issues of her own. In fact, she had a biopsy just two days before I actually had mine. Thankfully, her results came back differently than mine did.
I couldn’t get the thought of having to leave my husband and three little girls behind out of my head that day. I will never forget that day the rest of my life. I woke up the next morning with a completely different attitude. I wasn’t going to let this disease take away my life that I had worked so hard to make for myself. I wasn’t going to let it take my little girls mommy away from them, even if I was given only a 50% chance of living for another five years…with treatment. I was going to fight with everything in me. So that’s what I did over the next 8 months. I fought hard and I prayed hard. I had to rely on my faith to give me the strength to get through this journey. It gave me hope in what seemed to be a hopeless situation.
The first step in my treatment was to see how bad my tumor was, so I had a colonoscopy 4 days after my diagnosis. My colon surgeon let us know that the tumor was very large, 9 cm to be exact and it was very advanced. He was afraid if it wasn’t removed immediately that it was going to obstruct my colon, so surgery (a colon resection) was going to have to come before any kind of chemotherapy. One week after I was diagnosed, I checked into the hospital and had a foot of my colon removed along with the softball size tumor. I recovered from that very well and three weeks later I started chemotherapy (FolFox). I had twelve rounds, one every other week for six months. Before each round I would pray that the medicine would do it’s job and that it wouldn’t get me down. My prayers were answered because it worked tremendously well and I had little to no side effects. For the most part I was able to still be the mommy and wife that I love being. We were blessed with so much support during this time, including friends and family who would cook for us on my “on” weeks so that I didn’t have to worry about it. The chemotherapy worked unbelievably well. After just 3 rounds it shrunk the tumors on my liver 80%. I was told that that was above average results and I was so happy to hear that. After the last round it had shrunk the tumors a total of about 95%.
At this point my oncologist thought I was ready for a liver resection so he referred me to a local liver surgeon. I had to go through extensive tests, blood tests and scans to determine whether my body was ready for the surgery. When we met with the surgeon he explained that this procedure was 10 times more serious than open heart surgery and that they would have to remove 75% of my liver. Thank God the liver is one of only two organs that actually regenerates. He explained that the recovery would be about a six month process and we really wouldn’t know for sure if I would have enough liver left to live until after the surgery. I was again filled with all of the emotions that I felt at the beginning of my cancer journey. My 3 beautiful little girl’s faces flashed in front of me again and I worried that they would have to grow up without me once more. I remember wondering if I should write them letters that they could read when they got older just in case I wasn’t around to tell them all the things that I wanted to say to them. When I would start to think those thoughts a little voice would tell me to stop and I would have a peaceful feeling come over me. I knew I was going to be okay. I had to be. We scheduled the Liver resection for January 7, 2010. I went in that morning more nervous than I think I have ever been. I remember lying down on the operating table, not knowing what the next few hours, weeks or months would hold for me and the next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery room and heard my sister say “does she know they were able to get it all out?”. I was very loopy, but I caught that.

I stayed cancer free for about 8 months. I went in for my second routine scan in August of 2010 and a small 1.6 cm spot showed up on my liver again. Hearing this news was like being hit by a truck once more. It really wasn’t a surprise, as we knew there was a good possibility the cancer would show up again. However, it’s not any easier hearing the news for the second time. I again had to go through additional scans and tests to make sure this was the only spot of cancer in my body. After the scans, there was a questionable spot on my thyroid. I had a biopsy a few days later and it was determined that that spot was not cancer, thankfully. At this point we scheduled another liver resection to remove the spot. I had that surgery on September 10, 2010. I recovered for three weeks and started chemotherapy (Fol Furi) again. We had a plan to complete 8 rounds of a different type of chemo than I received before. I went in for the first round, expecting it to be similar as before. My body reacted to this chemo very differently than the previous mixture. I got very ill almost immediately. I was sick for 9 days straight. It was one of the most difficult times of my life. I would lay in bed and could hear the rest of my family getting on with life in the other room. It was very hard to lay there and not be able to play with my girls or take care of them the way I wanted to. Thankfully, we added additional nausea medicine and the other rounds were much better. I completed my last round of chemo on January 24, 2011. My last scan was on June 27, 2011 and all was clear. I am now in remission once more. I pray that this is the end of my journey with cancer. It has forever changed my life and those around me, but I honestly don’t think I would change a thing.
Throughout my cancer journey, I have learned a lot about myself and about life in general. I learned how strong I can be and how precious every moment is that we are given. The little things that used to bother me, aren’t a big deal anymore. It’s okay if my girls leave the house without a bow in their hair. I thank God every morning before I get out of bed for blessing me with yet another day to spend with, those that I love.
I’ve been referred to as a “miracle”, which by definition is a wonder; marvel. I feel like a walking miracle. I am so happy to be alive. I live everyday as if there is no tomorrow. I tell people how I feel, I give my girls hugs every chance I get and tell them that I love them. I could not have gotten through this time without such an awesome support system, my wonderful husband who stood right by my side the entire time, and other family and friends that rallied behind me and were there from the very first step and still continue to be there. Life is a gift and I plan to treat it as if it were the best gift I have ever received…..because it is!