What’s Next

It’s been months since I’ve “officially” updated you all on my cancer journey. Writing is weird like that – sometimes you feel inspired to write, and sometimes you just don’t.  And “just don’t” has just been my writing season recently.

But there’s a lot that’s been going on with me. To start, I finished radiation this summer.  Aside from having to refrain from swimming, sunbathing, shaving my armpit or wearing deodorant, radiation was pretty easy on me. My skin was red and tender, but did not break. I felt virtually no fatigue. It served more as an every day nuisance than anything. After 33 trips to the cancer center, I was able to close the door on that phase of treatment.

So what’s next? While it seems like with the completion of chemo, mastectomy and radiation, my cancer journey should be coming to an end, but it’s not. Have I been through the worst of it? I sure hope so. We met with my oncologist last week to discuss the next course of treatments. First on the schedule is Tamoxifen (an anti-estrogen therapy), which I just started. The side effects (hot flashes and night sweats, to name a few) typically take a few months to hit. So far I feel like my normal, always freezing, self. Theoretically I will take this for 10 years, however, my doctor is considering switching me to ovarian suppression in about 18 months. Recent studies have shown this to be a more effective way to keep estrogen-positive breast cancer recurrence at bay, but the side effects can be worse than with the Tamoxifen. He also wants me to begin a new targeted therapy drug (Nerlynx) for the Her-2 part of my cancer in January 2019, and because the side effects of that drug are pretty crappy (literally), he wants to get me through my year of Nerlynx before ovarian suppression begins.  That’s a lot of medical speak to say I’m just beginning all the drugs that are necessary to prevent my cancer from coming back. There is a chance I could have minimal to no side effects from all of this. And there’s a chance that the opposite will be true. I will be praying for the former.

Sometime early next year I’ll also begin the reconstruction process. I know that it will at least involve a surgery to give me tissue expanders, a number of fills to expand those expanders, and then an exchange surgery to my “permanent” implants.  Based on my mastectomy experience and recovery, I’m hopeful that these surgeries will be similarly non-eventful.

More important than all the status updates of my treatment plan, my biggest report is that I am feeling like my old self again. Maybe better than my old self. It’s like all the energy of my old self, but with the perspective to make my experiences that much sweeter. I find more joy in the mundane, I celebrate the small victories, I am seeking out new opportunities, I’m praying more and I’m worrying less. I am so grateful for all that God has given me, done IN me… and especially what He has done through me.  I am more confident than ever that God is still in the business of making miracles, and that the power of prayer is real.  You want to know what miracles through prayer look like? A large aggressive tumor shrinking to nearly nothing within days. Facing down stage 3 cancer without fear. Family and friends stepping in the gap to keep my kids’ lives normal. Getting through chemo with no real issues. Getting through surgery with no real issues. Getting through radiation with no real issues. Keeping a positive attitude. Keeping my energy. Growing my faith. Those, my friends, are miracles – the product of so much prayer. So much prayer.

On October 16th I will have a CT scan to make sure all my cancer is gone. While the cancer that was in my breast and my lymph node is gone, we are unsure about what was spotted on my internal mammary glands. Since the location of those spots is on the other side of my sternum, they were unable to be biopsied (to know for sure if they were cancer) or removed. If they were in fact cancer, I feel confident that the treatments have taken care of them. We just want to know for sure. I want to hear 3 little letters: NED (no evidence of disease).

October 16th will also be exactly one year since the day I went to the doctor because I felt a lump.

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  1 Peter 5:10

A few prayer requests:

  • That my upcoming CT scan comes back clear (NED!!)
  • That my side effects from the Tamoxifen are minimal
  • That my cancer never returns

Thank you all for praying for me and checking up on me. I am blessed beyond measure.

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Never Lead with Fries and Other Lessons from the Day

Every day as a parent is a day of learning – the subject is typically a surprise, but you can always count on a lesson.  Today my boys taught me…

1.)  Never lead with fries – No matter how good of an eater you’ve got, don’t lead with the fries.  It will be hard to near impossible to get them to eat anything with any greater nutritional value once they’ve got a yummy, greasy, salty fry in those chompers.  You want some chicken? [shakes his head no] You want some broccoli? [shakes his head no] You want a fry? Yeah!  Well crap.

Dont lead with a fry

2.)  Sometimes you have to break the rules – So if you’ve read my posts about food, you may have gathered that I don’t like highly processed artificially flavored food colored anything.  I don’t buy it, I don’t eat it myself, I don’t feed it to my kids.  However, sometimes you’ve got to break the rules. Perfect example – the haircut.  Beckett is still not too thrilled with the whole idea, especially when they have to hold his head to use the clippers.  If his mood is not right, the kid will freak out.  Solution? A lollipop.  Not the all-natural real fruit ones that the mom I was when there was just one used to carry around, but a good ole fashioned bright red DumDum lollipop.  Well, rules were made to be broken, right?

3.)  Miracles happen every day – Just when I thought it wasn’t possible, my boys proved tonight that miracles do exist.  They actually spent 20 minutes playing happily and quietly together.  There was no hitting, no biting, no hair pulling.  No screaming, no crying, no whining.  Just two little boys playing at their work bench.  I was folding laundry in my room when I had that eerie feeling that things were too quiet.  I walked to Beckett’s room and there they were being so sweet it actually put a lump in my throat.  I stood at the door for a couple of seconds and they didn’t even notice I was there.  So of course I had to go get my phone to document the event (the real camera was downstairs and I really didn’t want to miss this!).  So don’t give up hope – even if it’s just for a short time, miracles do happen and the kids can get along.

Its a miracle

4.)  Keeping calm is contagious – I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always keep my cool. It’s not always anger – sometimes it’s stress, sometimes it’s frustration, sometimes it’s anxiety.  But I’ll tell you, the kids pick up on it.  They can be like little sharks sniffing out blood and then attack when you’re at your weakest.  It’s brutal.  Now on the other hand, keep cool and they sense that too… and catch on.  It is amazing what a nice night you can have with your kids when you make an effort to stay calm and don’t stress.  It’s like they magically turn into loving little children who want to please and behave.

5.)  Be nice or the kids will tell on you – Backdrop to this conversation… I would not turn around while driving to get Brogan’s milk that he was tired of holding.

Brogan: I’m going to write you a note home because you’re being mean!
Me: Who are you going to send it to?
Brogan: Daddy.

Well that changes everything.