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:

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'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 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!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Why me?

This is a question that we all can't help, but ask sometimes. When things go wrong, we wonder why is this happening to me? During the first part of my cancer journey, that thought never crossed my mind. I never felt the urge to ask God why is this was happening to me, why my family was having to go through this, why my little babies were having to watch their mommy be sick and not take care of them the way I should. From the day of my diagnosis I decided to trust that God had a bigger, better plan that I did. I had to convince myself to let go and believe without a shadow of a doubt that He was in control. There was absolutely nothing on this earth that I could do to make this go away. All I could do was pray for comfort and peace. He answered my prayers and for the most part I was at peace with what was going on.

However, I'm going to be honest. When I first found out about the recurrence last summer, my first emotion was anger. I felt that I had already put in my time to this disease, that I had beat it once and it wasn't fair that I was going to have to go through it again. Why? This was honestly the first time I felt the urge to ask "Why me?" If God loved me, why was I having to go through this AGAIN! Once more I found peace in knowing that I wasn't in control.

I'm so thankful that God chose to heal me. He literally performed a miracle in my body. Multiple doctors have said that my healing was a miracle. Along the way, I have met many young colon cancer survivors in person and through the internet. I have been following one strory since last December. It is of a young girl named Leah, I believe she is 19. Her diagnosis was also Stage IV Colon Cancer. (You can find her story at this link. Leah has tried every conventional treatment that's out there for Colon Cancer and unfortunately, the cancer has continued to grow. They have told her parents to just make her comfortable. My heart literally breaks for this family. This young girl had her whole life before her and now it's been taken right out from under her. Her family is still trusting that God loves her and they are finding comfort in knowing that. I read her latest update this afternoon where her mother wrote that she doesn't wake up anymore. I couldn't help it and before I gave it a second thought I (although obviously very thankful for my healing) thought why me? Why did God choose to heal me? I don't know. I truly don't know the answer to that, but I'm so, so thankful!!! I will continue to share my story and encourge people to never give up! Trust that God has a plan for each of us and take comfort in knowing that He is in control!

Tuesday, August 16 -- I just found out that Leah passed away this morning. She is no longer suffering or in pain. Please pray for her family.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Birthdays and First Grade

August is our month for celebrating! We have multiple family members with August birthdays. Mine was actually on the 10th. This was the first one that I've celebrated cancer free since I turned 29 in 2008. It felt so great to feel secure with my future. Although nothing in life is certain, I didn't question wether or not this would be the last birthday that I would get to celebrate! Last year I had found out about my recurrence the day before my birthday. What an awful present! I remember crying all day on my birthday, wondering if I would still be alive to celebrate another one a year later. Thankfully, I am here and I did get to celebrate another one and most importantly.....I celebrated it being CANCER FREE!!! Thank God! I have always tried to make the girls feel special on their birthday, but I especially do now. Ava's birthday is on Tuesday and I am putting together her "candyland" bash for next Saturday! I can't wait to celebrate my sweet little Ava! What a gift she is in our lives!

So, this year on my birthday I have to admit I did get a little teary eyed a time or two. Nothing to do with the cancer, but because I sent my oldest baby girl to first grade. She is going to Scott School this year. She insisted on riding the bus, which I must admit I wasn't too thrilled about at first. I did go ahead and let her ride it, but I followed it on the first day. I was so proud of her. She was such a big, confident girl. She was a little nervous, but she hopped right on that bus. She had a great day and her only complaints were that you don't get to play very much in first grade and that it is long. A little different than half day kindergarten. I have no doubt that she will adjust quickly and love it before long!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Life is Wonderful!

Hello! Just realized I haven't blogged for a while. I certainly was thinking that I had since my scan and I haven't! Well, if you haven't heard I got GREAT results from the doctor after my scan. It was clean and my liver looked B-E-A-utiful!!! Praise the lord! We (Josh and I) weren't nearly as nervous this time, but there is always that voice in the back of your head that tries to create doubt. I can't even explain the relief that I feel when Dr. Stephens comes in and immediately lets us know that everything is fine. Thank you all for your prayers. They were heard and answered!

The plan from here is to have two more scans in 2011 before we start stretching them out. So I will have one in September and then one again at the end of the year. Dr. Stephens just wants to get through this year before we change things up, which I am totally comfortable with. I am ready to be to the point of only having  a few each year, but at the same time I like having the reassurance that everything is okay every three months.

Life is so good right now. We are enjoying the rest of the summer before school starts. The girls and I went to Chicago with Josh again last week. He had to go for work so we tagged along. This week the girls are at Art Smarts camp at Crossroads and they are loving it! I have to admit that I am enjoying the one on one time that it allows me to have with Addy. She is my little firecracker! We just laugh the whole time. Although, I'm not so sure she enjoys it as much as I do. She usually tells me she misses her sisters before we even leave the parking lot. Little stinker!

I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the week!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Prayers Please and Thank You!

Hello! I am writing tonight for multiple reasons. First and foremost to ask for your prayers. I have a scan tomorrow morning to make sure the cancer is still gone. I love these days and hate these days all at the same time. I love it when the news is good and I am reassured once more that God has healed me. I hate it for obvious reasons. I have been praying a lot in the last few weeks about tomorrow and I feel at peace with the outcome. It's hard not to let your mind wonder to places that it shouldn't, but I just keep telling myself that whatever happens God is still in control.

The same scripture has come up today a couple of different times and I can't help but think God really wants me to get this message today. It's in James chapter 1:2-4 and it says "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

I also want to thank everyone who came out yesterday morning for the Colon Screening for Life to support us. I don't know why I am continuously amazed at the love and support we have. Every now and then I find myself thinking that people have moved on with their lives and haven't necessarily forgotten about what we've been through, but may not feel like we need as much support as we once did. The truth is that we don't need the physical support like we did, but we are still mentally and emotionally going through it. Having people who still think of us and show their love and support means so much more than I can put into words. So to everyone who made the effort to get up early on a Saturday morning (some of whom drove a good distance) just to show us that we are still loved and thought of......THANK YOU!!! It meant so much to me that you were there! Here are a few pictures at the event.

 Getting Ready

 "Team Taba"

 Me and Tyan

 Mommy's Girl

Krista, Paula, Suzie and Me

It was a great event and I am so thankful that I was there to be a part of it! I can't wait to have an even bigger "Team Taba" next year!!!

We will let you know the results of the scan as soon as possible! Please, please keep praying! Thank you!!!


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Hi there! I hope you all had a wonderful Father's Day. I'm going to be honest, it's never really been one of my favorite holidays. I wasn't fortunate enough to have a dad who played a major role in my life. He was pretty much an "every other weekend" kind of dad, until I was in high school and then he chose to remove himself completely from my life. Although, as strange as it sounds I know he loves me and I love him.

I don't tell you this to make you feel sorry for me. I tell you this because it actually makes me appreciate the father that my little girls have. I never really had the chance to be a daddy's girl, but my little girls have their daddy wrapped around their finger. He would do anything for them. I am so thankful that God put Josh in our lives.

We had a great day celebrating him. After church, we took him to lunch, a movie (although probably not the one he would have chose) and out for ice cream. It was a wonderful day! We are so thankful for all he does for our family!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My How Time Flies!

Wow! I can't believe how fast this summer is going already. I feel like we are constantly on the go these days, but that's a good thing! We've had a lot going on since my last post.

I'll start with Josh's new job. He is now a design engineer for Quad Plus, a company based in Chicago. He loves it and we love having him work from home. He started three days after we got back from Florida, he had to be in Chicago for some training. He came home that weekend and then had to be back in Chicago the next week. Me and the girls along with Gina, my mother in law drove up to Chicago on Wednesday. We had such a good time! We surprised the girls and took them to the American Girl Store. We had lunch in the cafe. They said it was the best surprise EVER!!!

 The girls dolls all buckled up!

 Addy pointing at the dolls in the window.

 Addy and her bitty baby "Olivia" ready for lunch.

 Mylee and Josephina

 Ava and Felicity

 Mimi and Ava

 Mommy and Ava

Mylee enjoying her pink lemonade.

I'm sure some of you have seen the commercial for the upcoming Colon Screening for Life Walk/Run that the girls and I got to be in. We haven't seen it yet, but we keep watching for it. The event is next Saturday, June 25 and we would love to have a huge "Team Taba". You can sign up here. Early registration ends Saturday, June 18.

I haven't asked for prayers for a while, although I know some of you have continued to pray for us. I would appreciate it if everyone could say a little prayer for my upcoming scan on the 27th. I feel my anxiety starting to kick in a little already. This is a big one. The last time I talked to Dr. Stephens he said as long as this one comes back clean we will talk about stretching the next one out. I have a mix of emotions about that. I am totally excited that we are finally getting to this point, but the other part of me is nervous about going that long without confirmation that everything is okay. 

The other night when I was helping Mylee take a shower, she asked me why God lets people get sick. This came out of the blue. We hadn't talked about anyone being sick, so I'm not sure where it came from. I didn't say anything right away, as I tried to gather my thoughts on how to give her the best answer. That's a tough one to explain to a six year old. I think she is starting to realize how serious my being sick was. It almost made me thankful that the girls weren't old enough to know exactly what we were going through at the time. Still seeing God's little blessings along the way. 

I hope to update a little sooner next time. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vacation and Kindergarten Celebration!

Welcome to our new blog! I've been thinking of starting this new blog since last summer. Then I had my recurrence and decided to continue using Caring Bridge to keep everyone informed and updated as I went through treatment again. Prayerfully, the cancer is gone for good this time, but I want to continue blogging as we get on with life. So welcome...I hope you all enjoy 'Keeping Up with the Gibson's!

Where do I begin? We have had so much going on lately. I'll start with our wonderful vacation we just got home from. We went to Panama City Beach with my sister Crystal and her family. The kids had a great time together. We ate a lot, laughed a lot, relaxed a lot and had an awesome time! We had a lot of very much needed family time. I am so thankful for the memories that we made. Here are a few pictures from our trip.

We got home late Saturday night. Then on Sunday Mylee had her kindergarten celebration! We are so thankful that she got to go to such an awesome school this year. It's hard to believe that my baby is growing up. I am so proud of the little girl she is becoming. I knew I would be a little emotional, but when they starting walking in singing this little light of mine, I had a minor breakdown. I was just so thankful to be able to be there. Two years ago I wasn't sure that I would get to see any of my girls go to kindergarten and here I was watching one of them end her kindergarten year. What a blessing! The simplest things in life truly are the most special!

Thanks for reading our blog! I hope you all have a wonderful week!