Tuesday, January 31, 2012

At least she is out of the hospital...

Mom is getting healthier every day. She got out of the hospital a few days ago and is so thrilled to be home. She spent eleven days in isolation due to neutrapenic fever...she is very, very happy its over. When she got home there was a special surprise waiting for her. Stephanie Puzey gave her a shaved ice machine and let me tell you that little machine is working overtime! Yesterday we visited her doctor’s office to have a blood draw and to talk about when to start back up on her chemotherapy schedule. Her blood results improved very nicely so we were all very happy. The doctor and his team recommended that she start chemo treatments early next week so she can be as strong as possible and also they want to cut the dose of medicine down so it wouldn’t be as strong on my mom’s body. Your first thought might be “Great! She won’t get as sick!” but what it really comes down to is a lower medicine dose decreases the effectiveness of the treatment which could give the cancer time to grow. If you know anything about my mom you know she chose to do the full and strongest treatment but she was warned that another infection could cost her her life.

My dad is having his own health battle while he is desperately trying to fight for my mom. His knee is giving him so much pain. He has a torn meniscus that is causing him to wear a knee brace, ice it every night, and get cortisone shots to help the pain. Tomorrow he has an M.R.I. to figure out exactly what is going on. After those results come back his doctor will determine if surgery is necessary or not. He is very concerned if he has to have surgery. He is crazy worried about both of them being laid up in bed and not being able to take care of each other…(he forgets he has two daughters and many, many friends and family to help).  I’m afraid he is going to suffer and create more problems in his hips and back waiting for my mom to be finished with treatment before he will even think about surgery. Our family is up in arms about these hard choices that need to be made and we need God’s divine wisdom. Please keep my parents in your prayers. They need a joyful moment to look forward to and I fear they think it will never come. Hold them in your hearts as I hold them in my arms. Pass the word…pray for them in your small groups, Bible studies, and in your quiet time…just lift them up in love and healing. I thank you for keeping up and supporting us. I’ll keep you updated…

Love Always,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Here's To Better Days...

We were celebrating. Celebrating my family's victory over breast cancer. Celebrating life and second chances. Celebrating moving on and finally walking forward with our lives. Why did things have to go so wrong so fast?

In my last entry we wrote about how my reconstructive surgery went fantastic and how my body was healing afterwards. My family watched as the chest pain that haunted me for over a year melted away and the vision of total healing was on the horizon. The tissue expanders were the center of all the chest pain and I was so relieved to have them out. Kirk and I started dreaming again of all the things we wanted to do in our lives. After all this was our second chance at life together. We wanted to live without fear, travel without maps or guide books, for once color outside the lines! We started talking about moving to our favorite place to relax and forget the world, Hawaii. Kirk and I wanted an adventure and our adventure would be in paradise for a year. Research was done, phone calls were made, potential apartments were found, and the perfect swimsuit was bookmarked in my favorites. We figured we would take Hawaii by storm and come back rested and ready for the next step in our lives: a family. Our dreams were going to become our reality.

Just a few weeks after my reconstructive surgery my world was shattered…again. My mother found a lump. As all women should do she was doing her weekly self-breast check and there was a small lump under her right arm. I could barely feel it but I knew it held my mother’s future in its hand. She had surgeons feel the mysterious lump and they reasoned that since she was taking a chemotherapy pill to deter cancer to form again that this lump must be scar tissue left over from her double mastectomy. They told her not to worry but a lumpectomy might be a good idea. It turns out it was a great idea because it came back positive for metastatic breast cancer. My family’s hearts dropped to the ground. The thought of seeing my mother go through more pain just sickened my soul. She had just won this battle three years earlier and now it was back? It seemed impossible. Her P.E.T. scan confirmed that cancer was in her body and it had spread fast. She had surgery to remove all the cancer including 38 lymph nodes. My mom and I are no strangers to the operating room so she healed very quickly. When the pathology came back it showed that all of the 38 lymphnodes were positive for cancer. With that information she was diagnosed with stage 4 incurable breast cancer. She was told that she may have 18 months to live depending on treatment success.

My mother grew up wanting to be a warrior for God and for justice. She worked very hard to become a nurse and she conquered that dream with pride. My mom meets people on the worst days of their lives and she shows them kindness and God’s love. What an amazing woman! She is and always will be the role model I honor and respect. My mother is my best friend and I love her with all my heart. If you asked me I would never admit it but I’m becoming more and more of my mother’s daughter. Our personalities are very similar so we know what each other needs and wants and we were bonded so tightly even before sharing the awful experience of breast cancer. She was and is always there when I need her and now I need to be the strong one for her. I asked God for the strength I would need to help her emotionally and physically…I know I can trust God to take care of me so I in turn can care for my mother and family.

On Tuesday the 10th of January she started her 16 weeks of intense chemotherapy treatments. 8 treatments, 2 weeks apart. After chemotherapy she will undergo 6 weeks of harsh radiation treatments. Doctors call stage 4 cancer incurable and give a timeline of 18-24 months to live. When those are the odds all we can do is get on our knees and ask the Lord for a miracle; a miracle that tops all miracles for a woman who has been faithful all her life to Him.

A week after her first chemo treatment she was admitted to the hospital for low blood pressure, a stomach infection, very low white blood cell count, and nausea and vomiting. She is still in isolation at the hospital because of her inability to fight off any kind of infection. Masks must be worn to protect her delicate state. All this only after one treatment? How can she go on? Her next chemo treatment is less than a week away and she may not even be out of the hospital by then.

When does it end? The hurt, the pain of seeing those you love suffer? What line does it have to cross to see that it has cut us too deep to recover? I don’t understand…all I do is hurt…all I do is ask why couldn’t it have been me again? What lesson am I to learn from all this tragedy and I’m screaming no more, please no more. Cancer kills dreams. My mom shared that cancer killed her dream of having a Christmas without its dark presence. It has killed my family’s dream of a celebratory victory vacation. It has killed Kirk’s and my dream of living in paradise. Cancer is a disease that kills much more than cells in your body, it spreads and kills laughter and smiles. It kills futures. When will this darkness end?

This is the reason I have been gone so long. I have doubts that there is hope; that there is a future without fear of finding a “game changer”. Sometimes I feel better days won’t come. Just when you get the hope of getting your head above water you get dragged back down so far that you can’t see the light. I’m sorry that this isn’t uplifting and comical but I don’t want to be fake. I’m hurting and I’m wearing my emotions on my sleeves these days…well not around my family. I want to be the strong one. The calm one under pressure, the one who knows what to do and can fix any problem without showing how distressed and exhausted I really feel. The job is hard and has quite a lot of private meltdowns but I would rather take the job than have it be on anyone else.

I want good days to be on the horizon. To have a victory vacation that rivals all other vacations. To have my nephew know that hospitals and sickness are not normal. To create a future with my husband with traveling, a house, a dog and of course our 17 embryos! I want those days to be near but I find myself not putting much stock in any of my dreams. Only God has the power to change the circumstances and I know He will but the time waiting is feeling like a lifetime.

Love Always,