Saturday, July 31, 2010

Finding the Unknown Strength

It’s Saturday and I slept in! Oh, it felt so good to sleep because I was so achy from the Neulasta shot yesterday (the one that will help my bone marrow make more white blood cells). But life still needs to go on and it was time to look for a new car! My lease on my awesome Ford Fusion is up the first week of September and I only have 300 miles left before I’m over my limit. So it was time, we saved up the money, and we are on the search to BUY a car! Andrew read Dave Ramsey’s book called Total Money Makeover a couple years ago, got our finances in order, and now because of that, we will not have to make a car payment in the next few years! That makes me SO relieved knowing we can save that money again!! However, we were unsuccessful today as the car we were looking at was being test drove as we were on our way down to drive it ourselves. The lady ended up buying it, so maybe that was meant to be ‘her car’. So we are still on the search…let us know if you hear of anything good out there! The day was not a complete waste though…we ate at J. Alexander’s in Columbus, what a treat!
Well, the jaw pain has returned, it must be a side effect from the Neulasta shot the nurses said, because I don’t have the white spots in my mouth to be thrush. I just need to keep up on meds and ice it, and it feels better. I'm not as tired this round as I was last round and I am THANKFUL!! Plus, I got some beautiful flowers from a very special little friend of mine which totally brightened up my day :) Thank you! I’m doing so-so with my hair loss. I’m pretty sure at the rate it is going, it will be gone by the end of the week next week. However, I have a busy week ahead so hopefully it will take my mind off of it. We are having a garage sale this Thursday and Friday at my sister's house on University Blvd in Lima, visiting my in-laws and friends in Indiana on Saturday (yeah, we are eating sushi!!), and this Tuesday we are going to Van-Del to see a Drive-In movie! Excited to still have some of my summer left to enjoy spending time with friends and family before work consumes me again :)
As for my emotional state of health…I’m an up and down roller coaster it feels like. This round of chemo has made me way more emotional than last round. I feel like I could lash out, cry, and die laughing, all in three minutes :) I asked the 'why me?' question to Andrew and he said 'Why anyone who has cancer? Why do the Cleveland Browns have to stink at football? Why did LaBron move to Miami? The worlds just not fair.' He makes me laugh :) But seriously, on the way home, I was telling Andrew that up to this point, I have been positive and optimistic. But for some reason the last two days have been a lot harder to gather the strength to be positive. I think about how much easier it would be to go with the human instinct and lay on the couch all day feeling sorry for myself because of what I’ve been dealt. I don’t like my hair falling out, like by the handfuls, I really don’t. But what good would that really do to sit and mope about it? I'm learning first hand that through the really hard times in life is when I find it that much harder to gather the strength and be strong, but it’s that way for anyone in any circumstance. As humans, it is just easier to take the easy way out. However, it takes a fighter to stand back up on her feet and say, 'I will not let this get me down. Nope, not today, try again tomorrow.' See, I can say this because I know I have a God where the word cancer doesn’t scare Him. And knowing this, I am at ease again. He will take care of me. We have an unbelievable amount of strength in us people. The only tough part is reaching down, grabbing it, and using it during the hard times. But it's there, and I will grab it. Because that’s a true warrior. How could you be called a fighter when you crumble during the hard days…that’s not a fighter to me. And I AM A FIGHTER! So I WILL NOT let this part of cancer get me down, I will not be brought down by my trials, I will learn from them and rise up to be an even stronger woman than I ever thought I could be! OK, phew…I think I just needed to give myself a little pep talk. :) I’m feeling better…STRONGER! Because I am strong, I just need to stay focused on the prize at the end of all this. What it is, I do not know yet…but this is what this Pursuit is all about right?? :) You all still amaze me and are an inspiration. Thank you, simply, thank you.

I love this verse...It has been my 'life verse' since high school and I really just need to focus on this NOW. This pretty much sums up me, and what it is all about to me. :)
Philipians 3:13-14 'Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.'

Thursday, July 29, 2010

2nd Chemo Treatment is Done!

This blog has been so therapeutic and almost like a diary for me, so thanks for letting me get it all out there and for listening to me. Last night I wanted to write, but the computer started messing up, and I was needing a 'me moment' to process what had happened yesterday when I got home from chemo. But let’s start out with the good news first. Blood lab work…PERFECT!! White count was back up and nothing suspicious, so second round of chemo here I go! PET scan…only showed the cancer in my chest and neck…AWESOME! And the bone marrow…we caught this early, so NO CANCER in the bone marrow. YEAH!! I was SO happy to hear this and knew your prayers were working. I would have been really surprised if something had come up, honestly. I just did not feel it in my bones that anything else would be wrong. :) So after I met with Dr. Powell, he told me we are right on schedule and doing very well. The only thing he warned me of was that it was day 14 of chemo treatment, so as well as feeling crappy the next week, my hair will start to go. I said ok, and didn't think anything more of it...until later that day...
During treatment, this time seemed to go quicker than last time. It was still the two and a half hours, but I stayed busy. I only started to get queasy with the 'B' drug again, so I curled up in my blanket, put my hoodie up on my head, closed my eyes, and listened to my iPod. Next think I knew, Andrew grabbed my hand, squeezed it, and brought me right back to the real world because I was in this 'what the heck kind of world am I in right now?'. I'm serious, this cancer world is so surreal and I'm trying to describe it the best I can but it is so hard (especially since I can barely gather my thoughts as it is!). It's like I go to the Cancer Center, and everyone is so nice and funny. They give me pop cycles, let me watch TV, and just hang out and talk. Would be a great place if they weren't killing off the bad AND good things in my body. But in that moment where I didn't feel good, hooked up to the drugs in 'my chair', Andrew took my hand and he is the real world to me and to me, it makes me like the real world even more. The chemo drug world isn’t all that fun, but thank God for funny nurses.
So how do I feel after the second round of chemo?? Well, the weirdest thing was that as soon as I stepped outside, my nose and lips started burning! Can’t understand that one, but it felt like bees stinging me! But as soon as I got inside my house, it went away and didn’t come back. Being in the sun maybe?? Other than that, I am tired, nauseated, and emotional. More than I have ever been through this all, but I think it is a mix of what happened when I got home, overwhelmed by the love and support I have been shown from you all, and just the dang hormones of being a girl :)

So what happened when I got home? Well, ‘it’ has started. The visual side effects from chemo that is making this cancer diagnosis look me right in the face. I took Cooper outside to do his business while Andrew was mowing the lawn. I waited underneath the shade of the tree when I ran my hand through my hair on impulse. I looked at my hand and about 15 pieces of hair in it. I didn’t think much of it until I did it again, and another 15 pieces came out, just like that. I didn’t freak out. I just stared at it. None of my other senses were working. I was in a freeze frame until I heard the mower coming closer. I looked at Andrew and he came over and just hugged me. I teared up because it was another surreal moment. I knew this could happen, but I wasn’t expecting it this soon and at that time. I’m not sure what time and where I was looking for it to happen, but there was where God wanted me to find out I guess. Andrew and I didn’t talk, we just hugged. I needed that moment, I needed that time, I needed him, I needed those feelings to come out and for him to be there like the supporter he always has been. He made a joke that I can’t even remember now, but I know I laughed and was brought back to real life. I’m SOOO glad I cut my hair short because if that was my long hair in my hands, it could have been a different reaction. This must have been in God’s plan. I am so thankful for my friend’s mom Ginny who let me borrow a ton of her hats to help me during this short time of my life. And Ash came over to help me order my wig and gave me some other things to make me beautiful, hip, and hot. Like she always does. Bless you guys! Though this is bad diagnosis, I have seen such positive things come out of it in my life. But for right now, I just need to take it easy and rest, get my body back to top notch again. And PRAY that the jaw pain doesn't come back...that was the worst!
Oh! And whoever sent the anonymous card with the bull on the front, I hope you identify yourself someday because you must know me well, I died laughing!! I look at it and STILL die laughing! I’m still trying to figure out the handwriting…you're sneaky! I opened it up right after I had my hair situation outside, so once again…perfect timing. I love perfect timings!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Feeling I Can't Describe

Thank you so much for all the compliments on my short hair you guys! It is taking some time to get used to and I’m not sure exactly how to style it yet, but I am SO glad I did it. It is so curly right now and totally growing on me by the minute! I don't even recognize myself in the mirror! Actually I can’t wait to make it really big and curly and use fun hairpieces! So many people say they love it, so you must have done good Ash! Like you couldn’t…anyone out there looking for a new hair style, she works at My Hair Lady and is great! Not too shabby as a friend either :) HAHA Love ya!!
I really don’t know how to explain the feelings that I’m having tonight knowing tomorrow is chemo day again. It’s not sadness, and it’s not depression, it’s not nerves. It’s…I just don’t know. I’m just not excited for tomorrow. It's like I have to go back to this other wierd and surreal life again. I think this means that I haven't fully processed this whole experience yet, and I don't know if I will anytime soon. My attitude is positive, I just haven't wrapped my head around this whole chapter in my life. I know that by going I am one step closer to getting completely healed, and I should even be able to take the deep breath I’ve been so longing for these last few months. But I think I’m just not excited to feel sick again. This past week has just been awesome. I have felt really good, like my body is top notch, but I just hate knowing that I’m going in to kill off all of the good cells that my body worked so hard to develop this past week. I truly appreciate when I feel good now and don't think I'll ever take it for granted again. I get my lab work done first tomorrow, then get to meet with the oncologist, Dr. Powell again. I AM excited to get some of my results back. I am absolutely confident that the cancer has not spread anywhere else in my body and I can’t wait to hear him say it! Your prayers have been heard and my heart just wants to hug each and everyone of you. I’m getting teary eyed right now, because I really don’t deserve all the love and prayers you all have shown me. I do, I promise that somehow I will do something to repay you all, but I want you to know that you all are such good people to take the time out of your day to encourage me, send me a card, your phone calls and text…all of it. If I haven’t shown it enough or haven't gotten back with you, I’m sorry but I am SO grateful to you. So once again, thank you because it is you and God who is keeping me together!
I’m excited to see the nurses tomorrow too. They are always so much fun! But still those thoughts of chemo go into my head, and can’t help but let out a sigh. But I tell you what. Someone up above is looking out for me, because he kept me busy and focused today so I COULDN’T be down for too long. I had some great distractions today from my wondering mind. My teacher friends from slabtown came over for a simple lunch and catch up time before school starts again…oh it is coming so soon! Trust me, if I can teach special ed preschoolers…this cancer is a piece of cake! I love those kids and couldn’t imagine my life without them…they give me some sort of strength that I never knew I had. If you ever want to appreciate life, volunteer in a special education classroom. My job is tough, but SO MUCH FUN! These kids make me laugh and their innocence in beautiful. Plus, all of my teacher friends are wonderful at picking my spirits up and encouraging me to keep fighting. They are all willing to help me out at school and it is such a relief to know they are there for me during this time to get ready for the new school year. Plus, I was exposed to so much sugar and I LOVED IT!!!! I just can’t be good on this chemo diet when these friends cook…its just too good!!! Oh well, we only live once and I’m good almost all the time. :)
My forever friend Ashley (the one who went to Kewpee with my mom and I) came over to keep me company tonight also. We always laugh so much and she is a sunshine in my life! She got me a lotion and spray called ‘Forever Sunshine’ from Bath and Body and it suits us perfectly. No matter how much time we spend apart due to family, work, and life, we are always a ray of sunshine in each others lives when we see each other. She was my best friend as a child and now is like another sister to me to this day. She was my cheerleader tonight and got me reved up for tomorrow now. I told her she is now hired every other Wednesday to get me pumped up before chemo day. :)

I wanted to show you what Kota and Cooper do while I write my blog. They were both sleeping until they heard my camera turn on. I am blessed just by them you guys. Call me crazy, but I love them like family and they keep me so much company on these days when Andrew works 24 hour shifts. Another blessing I just wasn’t expecting and if I wouldn’t have taken the risk to get him, I never would have known this kind of happiness and companionship. Cooper is so good too, last night, he went straight to his crate to fall asleep before we even went to bed. What puppy does that?! He sleeps through the night and still has accidents, but usually its my fault for not having him go out enough. Or for staying out for too long (so maybe I made him stay outside with me for 3 hours until he did his business while I read my book. Go figure, I can be stubborn and wouldn’t let him win. Andrew came home from fishing and guess what Cooper did for him in just 5 minutes…MEN i tell ya!) Anyway, I am 99% happy with my life right now…I can deal with 1% of it being a bummer because of chemo treatment side effects. Can’t wait to give you all the good updates tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


My new SHORT hair!! So Funky!! And I've been requested to put more pics of the puppy on here... he is totally rocking the short hair too!
So I’m trying to prepare myself for the changes that are coming up in my not so distant future. I have had long hair for MOST of my least shoulder length. My hair is brown and curly, really curly! No one else in my family has such curly hair, but it has been a nuisance my entire life. The first 12 years of my life I was not introduces to hair gel. Can you imagine?! So what did we do?? Cut it short and brushed it out. Yup…FRO!! I was a mushroom head! Thanks mom :) When I finally discovered there was a thing called hair gel in sixth grade, it saved my hair life. Wow, curly hair was not a demon put here to make my hair life miserable, it could be managed, and actually look…good! So good that with the training from my hair stylist Ash, I won ‘Best Hair’ in our Senior Who’s Who yearbook. My senior year of high school I had very long brown, curly hair. It was time consuming, but really it was beautiful. We started a good relationship, and I was known for my curly hair and actually started to enjoy my curls (even though I was introduced to a straightener, my goodness I could not live without that either!). I started dating Andrew in 2004 and he told me that my curly hair was one of the characteristic that he LOVED about me. But in 2005, I had to have brain surgery, and they had to shave half of my head. So for a few months, I had shorter hair on top, and a shaved head underneath…totally something we used to do in 5th grade, but not as a 21 year old :) My hair grew back eventually, but here I am again…with a new hair dilemma.
The ‘A’ drug that they are using for one of my four chemo drugs is the one the doctor again said ‘That’s the drug that’s gonna make your beautiful curly hair fall out.’ I thought I was prepared to hear this, but when Dr. Powell said it, I felt a lump grow in my throat. Hair should not define beauty, but you really don't appreciate your hair until someone says its going to be taken away from you. At least I didn't. Most people who have this 'A' drug start losing their hair after the second round of chemo. So for me…it’s coming. And somehow I had to feel prepared for it. So Ash helped me once again feel beautiful. She cut my hair short without any hesitation, making me feel more confident in this decision and I love her for that (my hair has not been this short since second grade!) I didn’t want to see my long hair falling out, I’m not sure if I would have been ok with that even though I told myself at least 50 times I would. So I took the plunge and prepared myself. Cutting my hair short was an option, so I took it and ran with it...and I'm so glad I did! She did such a great job and it looks pretty good! It's crazy, and I never would have cut my hair this short before, but really is just hair right?? Bigger things in Life to worry over, but I think losing my long locks would have been like losing a friend :) So we parted our ways, only to be returned again soon! And it will grow back :) (Plus, now it won’t clog up the drain so much right now…you’re welcome Andrew! :)
Andrew was a sport about my hair, too. When I told him my plans, inside I knew he was screaming ‘NO!’ but on the outside he said ‘Do what ever you want babe, I’ll support you.’ See, when I asked him why he doesn’t like short hair, he told me that it reminds him of when I was sick the last time in 2005. I had long hair the whole time we dated and when he left for Boot Camp is when I first started getting sick. The next time he saw me, my hair was short and then half way shaved. He must have been shocked…but he kept on loving me, even in the ugly days. I know right now it’s not his favorite hair style, but he tells me ‘whether short or long hair, you’re still a beautiful woman.’ Could I ask for any better?
So yes, my long hair may have been a nuisance and was put in a pony tail way too often, but I’m going to miss it and I will welcome it back with open arms. Never thought I'd say that, but I'm not sure how I would react if it grew back blond and straight :) 'So curly brown hair, please come back…we kinda go good together and I’m sorry I didn’t tell you enough how much I enjoyed you'. Hey, maybe I’ll get lucky and not lose my hair! It could happen!! I actually kinda wish I would have been more daring with my hair before...I mean who cares right...purple hair, why not?! Thanks for your support my friends. I really could not be doing this without you, really. And Alaina, your short hair and headbands were an inspiration for me to do this too! Thanks for lunch, and hopefully I will look as good as you my dear :)
A pic with my wonderful husband...I love you AJ, even with your short hair too!
For those of you who didn't know us then, when Andrew and I started dating, he had the shaggy punk rock look until Basic Training...I LOVED his longer hair, but I loved him through his short hair cut too :)
This is us in April of 2005 (his hair was actually a little longer than this, right above his eyes), right before he left in June and before my surgery in August.
We were so young!!

Usually I tend to wear my hair straight now a days, but this was a curly hair day, right before the plunge :)

So time will tell what will happen with me and my's just another chapter in the story of my Life. I'm starting to work on my inner beauty, appreciating what's there more and trying to let it show to compensate for the outer beauty when I may not be looking so hot :) We as girls are always so hard on ourselves. I know Andrew married me, not because of my outer beauty,(some days we all wish we looked like models though), but because I'm me and he fell in love with me, the whole package. ME! And I am SO happy he did!!! We ALL need to start feeling good and focusing on what's on the inside of us, because that's what our men really love, instead of focusing so much on the outside of us...besides, that's what really matters in the end, right? :)

So here we go ladies...this has helped me through this phase of cancer. God's 'the man', and this is what He thinks :)
1 Peter 3:3-4 'Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.
Proverbs 31:30
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lesson Learned: Tomatoes = Acid Reflux

So I thought that since I have been feeling so good this week, that I could start to eat like I used to…including tomatoes (good thing cookies haven’t bothered me yet…I’ve been eating the smiley face cookies I got from a friend at work...YUM!! Thanks Sue S.!). Well, I found out the hard way that I can’t eat just everything yet. Tomatoes are a killer! Even just ketchup on a hotdog caused me acid reflux last night. I have never had acid reflux in my life and for anyone who struggles with this on a daily basis, I feel for you! Oh, the burning in my esophagus just about made me throw up! Not fun, so unfortunately I will be staying away from anything that has tomatoes in it for the next few months because I have learned my lesson! And yes, that means my favorite…PIZZA! And spaghetti, and most of all, fresh homemade salsa made from our garden. I guess I will be making it for Andrew now. Oh, the garden is another story! I was determined to have my first garden this year, even though I had NO CLUE what I was doing. And of course the spot I wanted to start it in was where an old tree stump used to be, so basically I am starting a gardened in mulch:) Throughout our trials with this garden (trust me, for some reason this garden was against us from the start) it has actually come through for us! I had my first freshly picked green beans a couple days ago. Indescribable! They were so good! And this is coming from the girl who didn’t think you could eat pears off of a tree…they had to be in a can :) This is a pic of my green beans...I just had to show them off I was so excited! And the other stuff is polish sausage and sauerkraut on mashed potatoes (I'm now a fan of this meal because of Judy S. They have it as a tradition on New Years Day, but I love it so I have to have it other times too! Try it!) I already told Andrew we are making the garden twice the size next year with even more veggies…he just rolled his eyes at my ambition :)

Besides the tomato episode, this week has been great! I’ve really been feeling good and Cooper keeps our spirits up! We are in the potty training mode, which can be frustrating when you think he has it, then bam…accident. I’m starting to get more used to his schedule, and punishing him can be so hard! I’m great at giving the treats, so I think I will stick with that job. I had to leave him for the first time when we went to church on Sunday. That puppy face can just get to you! I made Andrew put him in his crate while I was already outside. It’s too sad to see him in there...I’m such a softy! This truly was a match made in Heaven...I'm in love I think. He is super good and just follows me everywhere. He sleeps a lot too and tries to be friends and play with Kota...I'm not sure she is ready to take their relationship to the next level :) I felt ok leaving Cooper because church was great this week. Again, I could sing all day, but the sermon was extra special. Maybe because I could relate it to my life easily. It’s all about trust now. I can’t control my future, I just have to trust God that He has control. So far I haven’t been let down. There hasn't been anything I haven't been able to handle yet (even when I don't think I can, I always somehow do!) But really, when I was singing in church, I was happy. I thought ‘If I am this happy singing in church, what’s it gonna be like in Heaven?’ That happy feeling has to be a million times greater in Heaven, so I’m not afraid to die now or in 60 more years. My relationship with God will get me there and I’m gonna sing loud people so watch out…cause it’s not that good!!!
Then we went out to Red Lobster with Andrew’s mom and some of our new church friends. That was an answered prayer right there too! We started attending Shawnee Alliance Church in January with the hopes to set some new roots somewhere and meet some new people our age. My old First Church of God friends came through for me and helped me pray that this would be the right church for us…and there you have it. Prayers answered…we love the church and have met some wonderful friends. God hears prayers. I have seen it and now I believe it. Well, Cooper is waking up and I better follow him, I don't want any surprises anywhere in the house later :) Tonight I am cooking some yummy Sutters Farm produce and busy trying to get stuff together for a family garage sale next week before my chemo treatment this Thursday…who knows what next week will bring! I've heard some pretty crazy stories about round 2 chemo! The summer weather is awesome outside today! I hope you all are outside enjoying it...last week of July already, where has the summer gone too??

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Story of Cooper

This is Cooper! He is an almost 3 month old Black Lab/Dachshund Mix (weird huh?!) BUT SO ADORABLE!

So here is the story...
Andrew is a dog person, not a cat person. And I am a cat person, not a dog person. Well, when Andrew was away at boot camp in the summer of 2005, my dad caved in and surprised me with letting me get a cat from the human society because it would help cheer me up during my brain surgery. And she TOTALLY did! Well I decided to pay it forward... :) Andrew has been wanting a dog since we got engaged. I have NEVER had a dog before and frankly wasn't that determined to get one either. I made up excuse, after excuse, to hold off. Well like I said, this diagnosis has changed my mind frame a bit! Plus, you all who have shown me so many different ways on how to be happy through a bad time (geez...just your support has gotten me so far, I could go on and on but I will save that for another days blog:). So, 'Why not have a dog?' I couldn't think of a reason not to. I think the most challenging thing will be the couple days after my chemo treatments, but that will only last another 3 months. But I thought, 'If it is the RIGHT dog, he will bring both of us so much happiness.' So I knew my sister-in-law Beth was coming into town so I told her a few days ahead of my plan to SURPRISE Andrew with a dog. But ONLY if the planets aligned :) Seriously, I was not going to get a dog for the heck of it, there had to be a connection (you know what I when you buy a house because you just KNOW, or when you find the one you are going to marry because you just KNOW...well with a dog, I was just gonna have to KNOW :) So I kept my plans a secret...Andrew left for work and Beth came to town. We looked at the humane society first because I had already looked at DOTS, great place, just too small of dogs. I knew Andrew would never let me get a lap dog. He wanted a golden retriever or a lab. Well needless to connection with the crazy dogs at the humane society! God love them, but my heart rate went sky high they were so loud and routy! They gotta be for someone, just not for me (but my Kota cat was from the humane society, there was a connection and she was DEFINITELY for me!)
So then we went to Jacks Pet Store. I walked in and saw him and his brother. I pulled out his brother first because he was all black with white paw cute! We played, but I just kept eyeing his brother still in the cage. So I got both of them out together. They played, but the second dog seemed more tame. I put the first dog back and played with our future dog. He melted my heart, and dogs do not melt my heart. The planets had aligned and a connection was made. Knowing Andrew, I knew he would love this dog. I had no doubt. So Cooper came with me and we were off to surprise Andrew at the fire station! This is us driving to the fire station to see Andrew, I'm giving him the pep talk on how he has to be a good dog and win his heart!
So I called Andrew and told him to meet me outside. Luckily they were not on a call and had just gotten done with a meeting. I started getting nervous as he came out saw me holding our new dog! At first, he thought it was Beth's dog, but when I told him it was our new dog, he said with a smile 'Our new dog?!' I reassured him it was our dog, bought and paid for, and he was here to make us happy! Oh, was he surprised and happy...SUCCESS!
Andrew took him up to the fire house to get him some water because it was SO hot outside and we were having quite the day so far. He was really such a good dog while we were there and Andrew fell in love I think :) I asked him if he was ok with it not being a full lab, and he said yes. That he had been thinking actually, and for a house dog he really wasn't sure if he wanted a bigger dog for our first dog (I know, 'first dog'...let's just take this one day at a time for this new dog lover :). Cooper is perfect though because he will get big, just probably not really tall.It was about time for us to leave so we took our first family picture (sorry Kota!) and Andrew got his lick good-bye from Cooper. Andrew was ABSOLUTELY surprised that I showed up with a dog. Never in a million years would I have done this...but lets start LIVING right?? What was I waiting for?? I have found a whole new kind of happiness with dogs. They really are neat animals.So Beth and I took Cooper to his new home. Andrew and I's home. We were now 'dog people' :) In just a few short sentences, he was nothing but GREAT for the first night. Everything that happened was expected for a puppy in a new home, and he was a perfect fit into our family. Even Kota hasn't killed him! Actually, last night Kota was on the top of the couch and Cooper was sitting by me. I thought the world might end right there! You see, Kota just doesn't like other animals or people around besides Andrew and I, and for her to do that on the first night about put me in tears :`) He never barks, only when you leave him at night! And he cuddles like a pro! He was meant for me!! I'm not kidding, he is a PERFECT dog. And that takes a lot for anyone who knows me to say about a dog. Well, we could work on this whole bathroom thing, but thats too be expected right?? Here is Beth with Cooper...I couldn't have done it without you Beth!!! So my planned worked and just like my dad surprised me with Kota, I surprised Andrew with Cooper. Somehow, animals can just help make a bad situation better. And Cooper has put our focus on something else and is making us happier. So tonight, Andrew and Cooper are asleep on the couch together as I am writing this blog, and I am happy because he is happy. That's what marriage and compromise is about right? Andrew has been nothing but positive and supportive throughout this last month of chaos, and he deserved every bit of Cooper coming to live with us. I'm sure we will have a ton of new adventures with I better make this a page in my scrapbook to show my great-grandkids one day of awesome things to do in life ;) I encourage you guys to surprise someone you love in the next few days. It doesn't have to be anything big like getting a dog (Andrew and Cooper just truly deserved each other), but I guarantee that whatever it is that you do, will make YOU ten times more happier than the one who is receiving the gift :) I'm over the moon right now about how happy Andrew is right now...and I'm happy about a dog. ME?! LOVING A DOG?! I think the chemo has gotten to my brain somehow.... HAHA!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Meet Cooper!

Meet our new dog Cooper!!
He was one of my 'Big news' coming up...a surprise for Andrew too!
More details to come tomorrow...I gotta be on puppy patrol tonight :)

ISN'T HE CUTE?!?!?!!?!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The One Week Review

FAITH- without faith nothing is possible. With faith nothing is impossible!

This was on a plate I received from the parents of some friends of mine and it is so true. Faith has gotten me to this point right now, one week after my first chemo treatment, and let me say... LIFE has found me well these past 2 days! I now do not have to wear anything over my port anymore and it is healing up very well. And believe it or not, the port is not being a pain in my you know what much anymore! Taking off my shirts are much easier, showering is easier, and sleeping is easier. God hears prayer gotta try it! Last night, I went to bed in my own bed and woke up in my own bed! Such an accomplishment, you have no idea! And sleep...I'm getting more of it at night...Hallelujah I can hear the angels singing! Today (Thursday), I woke up feeling good and I'm about to go to bed feeling good. So I'm thinking that it takes about a week for my body to bounce back from a chemo treatment. Now, if I am out and about during the day, by about 7:00 pm I'm starting to feel like shutdown mode, and just know its time for a bath, good book or movie, and to settle down. So I'm no party animal yet people ;) But really, being active during this is so worth it. Now sometimes I need more persuasion to get out of the house on some days than other days (Thanks sis for MAKING me get out). Like yesterday, I had no good reason to stay at home, other than I wanted to read my book and just chill. But my sister called and TOLD me I was going with her to swim at my aunts house. Good thing, I COMPLETELY enjoyed myself more than I ever would at home reading a book, even if I was fully clothed and under an umbrella :) Chemo and sun are not on the 'together list' like peanut butter and grape jelly or noodles and mashed potatoes :) My new beach attire... instead of a swim suit and beach towel, an umbrella and sunhat...

My sis Sarah and I and above me with my niece and nephew :)

So needless to say... after the first week of chemo...I still have a smile on my face :) So now that I am feeling almost like my old self for the upcoming week, I am happy that my new attitude towards life has still remained the same. God is still first, my family second, and everything else is side by side on the list of importance. I'm DREAMING big, PRAYING hard, and LIVING like crazy!! I am getting kinda excited because I have some BIG plans (well, to me they are big plans :) coming up here in the near future...but you'll just have to wait a bit to hear :o)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hi Ho, Hi Ho...It's Back to the Chair I Go!

Just when I think I'm up...I'm right back down. 'Too good to be true' is probably the saying here. Last night, I had trouble once again falling asleep and it was back to the chair I go. I am having very weird feelings in my chest. Andrew told me it is probably because the chemo is working and my lungs are getting used to having room again. Its still hard to take a deep breath and on top of that, the port is still giving me some problems. I'm wondering if it is sitting on a nerve or something because I get these sharp pains, more so at night. So last night, I couldn't sleep in bed and I was back to the chair. My port felt much more comfortable, but man did I wake up with pains in my back at 5:45 am. I have a knot where the bone marrow procedure was done, so I had to lay on the couch with a heating pad for awhile. Andrew helped me though of course :) He left for work at 6:30 am but before he did, he made me take my pills and drink some water. The mornings are the worst for my throat and jaw too. Still so sore. But the wonderful pills helped me fall back asleep this time and I was feeling much much better when I woke up. I'm coming to accept that this is going to be one roller coaster of a ride! Good thing I like thrills!

I wanted to share this YouTube video with you though!

Ok, so this dance brought me to tears! My mom said how good it was and I watched it once, then twice…then came home and YouTube’d it. If anyone out there wants to say that dance is not inspirational after seeing this, they are crazy! The dancers are from the show called So You Think You Can Dance and the song is by Cold Play called Fix You. Travis Wall, the choreographer, made up this dance to represent his mom after her surgery and how he felt. They are dancing, but also telling a story through their dance about a person who is trying to so hard to fix their loved one. When I relate this dance and words back to my life...I am completely moved by it. Maybe Andrew and I could take up dancing after this! Just Kidding Andrew! (he has to put his foot down somewhere :) Maybe it will touch you somehow like it touched me :)
It might not play from here, but just allow the pop up and it should work. If not, take the time to visit this website SO WORTH IT!!!!

P.S. I wanted to tell you guys about a new little place my friend Courtney took me to today. It's called Heavenly Stitches and its on the corner of Greely Chapel and Hanthorne Rd. It's the neatest little fabric store and has tons of cool things! I think I might be picking up a new hobby here soon!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Date Night...with the Ladies!

Kayla, Me, Tara, and if I could work photo shop, Ash would be in there too (she's a good mom, her babies needed her at the last minute :) at Roadhouse.
:oD I told you I would be laughing at my last post…or maybe it is just because of the good meds I just got! Wow-what medicine can do for the mind and body! After my frustrating night, I called my doctors office in the morning, explained my pain and within hours, I had the ‘good stuff’ to ease the pain! My body feels MUCH more tolerable now that I don’t have the aching pain in my jaw or throat ( I still have a hard time taking a deep breath, but that should ease up here real soon). I’m actually back to my bed too! So hopefully I will get some nice restful sleep in there. As for my t-shirt dilemma, oh well…I’m just gonna have to start lifting weights so my arms look good in tank tops! My parents did a good job babysitting me on Monday when Andrew was working :) For some reason, I could not gather my thoughts right. I would start something, then never finish it because I would get distracted by something else (this should be real good when I start working again!). Good thing my mom was with me to help me out. I didn’t get my shower until 3:30 that day! Luckily, Linda didn’t mind my appearance as she stopped by :) My parents took me back down to the lake for a drive (we Hochstetler’s love our drives) and I was at home with a smile on my face and meds in my body again.

I had a wonderful date night with my bestest friends tonight Tara and Kayla (and Ash in our hearts :). You know, I say they are my bestest, but my God, I love all my friends! You ALL, old and new, mean the world to me and I would move heaven and earth if you needed me too! Just say the words! Like it says in John 15:12-13 'This is my commandment: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than he that lay down his life for a friend.' My friends have really helped me get through this time by keeping me busy and my mind off of 'it'. They make me get out of bed and I swear they have to remind me to put on makeup! Anyway, this was the first time I have been 'out on the town' (ok, ok, its just dinner...I'm easing my way back into it :) and felt 'normal'. Hmm...Normal.

I apologized to Andrew yesterday because of that word. I said that I was sorry and that things would get back to ‘normal’ soon. Of course, he said I was crazy and that everything is fine just how it is now. But I started thinking about that word ‘normal’. What is ‘normal’? If going back to the way I used to live before cancer was normal, maybe I don’t ever want to be 'normal' again. People hear the word cancer and think about death. I did. But you know what? I have never felt more alive than right now. Yes my health is not so good, but it’s getting better. But my is in overdrive! You know, for a disease that breaks you down physically, I am so surprised that I have not been broken down hardcore emotionally. I cried the first day I found out (that's a free-be though), and since then, I’ve been pretty doggone good! And it's because YOUR prayers have seriously over come! Instead of breaking me down emotionally, this has been such a strength builder for me! I have honestly found out how STRONG I am in SO many ways through having cancer. Do you know what that makes me want to do?!!? Everything I NEVER thought I could do! Like scuba dive, go through labor (see Sarah, you don’t have to have my kids anymore!), skydive, wear funky hair styles, sing loud in the car with the windows down, get my trip to Holland and Italy, sail away on a cruise, go to New York City during Christmas, dance like no one is around, go lobster fishing, do a missions trip in Africa (a safari wouldn’t be too bad either :), hike up a mountain, write a book, go on a shopping spree with NO regrets, save someone’s life, read a book in a day, buy a boat and sail away, I could go on and on! I have so much more ambition in life that I’m not sure a thing is going to stop me now. Money, no problem…can’t take it to Heaven anyway. Time, well…only God can decide how much I’ll get done in my life - so I better start on this list now! Company, no problem…I know Andrew or any of my family and friends would gladly support and accompany me on any of these adventures (skydiving Dad? ;) And my camera, I gotta take my camera to document all this! But, why hold back? Really? You will only have regrets when you are 65 and saying 'I wish I would have....'. And if you are 65 or older, if you have taken good care of yourself, you have like 30 years ahead of you to go crazy and do things you never thought possible! WHY NOT?!?! What an inspiration you would be! My real hope is this....that I will have a big family when I’m retired and will instill in them the same kind of strength that I have right now in this moment. To try anything, live like there really is no tomorrow, and to love someone like crazy, just like in the movies!! I want my great grandkids to come to Andrew and I when we are 90 and say 'Pappy, what do I gotta do to have a good life?' And then for Andrew to take out our scrapbook of adventures and say 'Do this!' :)
YOU have helped get me to this point in my life and I am forever grateful to you. I will somehow pay it forward, I promise. If this is the reason I got cancer, well ok then. Cause for the first time in a long time, I have goals and I want to LIVE!
Thanks again for your continued support and prayers through this time. I am doing so good so far and a lot of it is because of faith, but a lot of it is because of your support too :)
Sweet Dreams my friends and DREAM BIG tonight!!

Monday, July 19, 2010


So after laying in bed last night, still awake at 2:30 am, I've decided to write a blog about the new frustrations I'm having. I think I need it out more than you need to hear it, so just let me vent and laugh about it all later...I will :)
I have been doing really well so far, better actually than I ever thought through all of this. My strength has been tested and I've come out on top! But, last night...phew, I felt like I finally struck out. I try not to think about 'it' a lot and keep myself busy, but last night I just couldn't get away from it. I think it was because everything that was happening was out of my control, and I couldn't manage the pain I was feeling. Also, my thoughts are like one mixed up jigsaw puzzle. I can hardly concentrate or keep things straight! (they say the drugs can do this, so stick with me through this craziness people! :) I was spoiled in the beginning days with chemo side effects, because really it was nothing I couldn't handle or deal with. The pain could be managed by sleeping or meds and I could keep up with 'life' more than I thought I would be able to. But now, I'm frustrated. It's my whole jaw and throat. It just keeps throbbing in pain like I've just had my wisdom teeth taken out. I've already been through that so why do I have to feel it again?! :) I can't enjoy eating like I want to (and trust me, eating is such an enjoyment to me!), I'm icing my mouth ALL the time, and BOTH cold and hot foods do not make it feel any better...just frustrating because it never goes away and just gets worse at night. And nights are the worst!
Then, this powerport is about ready to powerport its way right out of me! :) I have to remember that I have stitches in there so it's not going to feel great yet, and it hasn't even been a week Laura! This is so minor, but I wanted to wear a tshirt last night and I couldn't because it still rubs and feels funky against the port. So tank tops still it is. Such a little thing, but it got me frustrated! And trying to sleep in my bed with this powerport is no fun...TRYING TO SLEEP is no fun! I cannot fall asleep at night. And when I finally do, I sleep-in SOO much because it feels SOO good to sleep. Which it should do because my body is completely rebuilding itself after chemo wiped it out, so I NEED to sleep. But I don't want to sleep my summer away either (us teachers NEED this summer break:) Oh, and getting up four times in the middle of the night to use the bathroom is getting REALLY old, really fast. My kidneys are in over drive because it is getting rid of all this bad stuff in my body, so Andrew is making me drink like a gallon of water a day. It's all good I know, but so annoying when I finally get to sleep, just to wake up again. AND, because my kidneys are working in speedy motion, my lower back pain is just getting worse! I thought it was from the chair at first, but I'm thinking now its just from sore kidneys. And it probably didn't help that I had a little frozen cappuccino from Kewpee yesterday either. My hands shook all night, but it was SOOOOOO sinfully good! I really just had too :)
Ok, I think I have let it all out. THANK YOU! I need to get it out and this blog has been so therapeutic for me. I'm having so many different emotions and for the first time last night, I felt frustrated. And I haven't felt that way yet. However, through it all....I HAVE to count my blessings, because there are too many to be frustrated for too long...

1) I have a husband who cooked supper for me last night (and did dishes!) without me even asking!
2) I have a cousin (Thanks Krysti G!) who came over yesterday to cheer me up with an awesome goody bag! It had all the essentials for a cancer patient... chocolate!, fun books, pad and pens, bandannas, treats for my cat, and a little monster to start cutting up!
3) The shot I was given on Friday is helping me build my immune system back up so I CAN ACTUALLY HAVE SOMEWHAT OF A LIFE! I can't imagine what it would be like if I didn't have that shot. Like I said, chemo has come a long way and it is nothing to be scared of anymore. It does take it's toll on your body and you feel some side effects, but it could be so much worse!
4) I have a powerport put in which is making the chemo drugs SO much easier to administer.
5) Knowing there are people out there who have is 100x worse than me right suck it up Laura :)
6) Wonderful friends and family who keep me positive and busy throughout the weeks when Andrew is working.
7) A God who never leaves. Ever. Even now when I am completely frustrated, He is just laughing at me, saying 'Take a breath. You already know I have control.'

So, I should probably do just that. Take a breath, look at the amazing positives I have in my life, and move on with my day. And NEVER GIVE IN! I just really needed to vent I think and I'm already feeling much better actually. Thanks for listening :)

OH! Another quote that has helped me get through this whole cancer thing is the line Scarlett O'Hara said in Gone with the Wind...'I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.' That pretty much sums it up, and it's pretty much what I do to get through this. :) Good thing you all have my back! Thanks for all your help!!

Have an awesome Sunny Summer Afternoon!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Ups and Downs to this...

Please let me say first and foremost, THANK THANK THANK YOU!!!!! I feel so loved by you all! People who I don't even know are praying for me and it is such a strength builder for me! Really, your calls (even if I can't take them right away), cards, fb/blog comments, visits, the flowers, texts, ALL OF IT is so unbelievably undeserved, but I am so grateful for them! I have the cards on my closet door so that when I start to feel down, I can read through one or two and feel the strength build up again. You guys are THE BEST MEDICINE!!! So please accept my gratitude, you all are seriously helping me get through this :)

Wow...yesterday was probably harder than the first day of chemo! First of all, I haven't been able to sleep in my bed yet because of the powerport. When I lay my head down straight on a pillow, the powerport stretches out and just feels totally weird and tight in my upper chest. So I've been sleeping in my comfy chair that Andrew pulled out of the den. Then, because of the steroid shot from chemo day, I couldn't sleep! I was warned this could happen, and it did. The last time I looked at the clock it was 4:02 am. I was finally asleep in my chair after tossing and turning in bed. The next morning (Friday), I had to get another shot to help make more white blood cells since chemo kills a lot of them during treatment. Let me say...I am getting SO MUCH BETTER with needles. Seriously, so much better I'm almost not even phased by them...almost :) I was also warned that this might make my bones ache, but do you think I let that stop me...of course not :) I came home, took a nap for an hour (cause 4 hours of sleep just doesn't cut it for this girl) and then I was off with Ash again to look at some possible hair solutions for the near future. I haven't been to the mall in forever we went there too. Then it hit like a truck! I was tired and achy. I fell asleep in my chair as soon as I got home, and a couple hours later I woke up feeling like I had just went skiing all weekend! It was so crazy to feel that way, I mean every bone in my body ached from my ribs to my fingertips. So weird! That's what this whole experience has been, totally weird and surreal! Then today, I woke up feeling much better, still a little sore throughout the body, but nothing that was going to keep me down for long. So I went to run some errands and visited with my grandparents, then once hit me. My jaw just started throbbing in pain, like I had just been to the dentist. Then, my back started hurting (but I think that has been from sleeping in the chair instead of my wonderful bed). So after I ate supper with my parents, I came home, took a nice long, hot bath and then back to the chair I go for a movie and Popsicles/ice packs to ease this jaw pain :) From what I can gather, the jaw pain is probably a side effect from the 'V' drug. Andrew took this picture with his phone on Thursday. There's my comfy chair and my kitty Kota, love her for sticking this out with me :) Yes guys, she really is that awesome of a cat no matter what you may hear from other people! ;) I also wanted to tell you guys about the night I had with Andrew at the fire station before my first chemo treatment. I'm not always so sure of things (as if you didn't know ;), I am only human you know. So of course I was getting nervous because of the unknowns. Wondering if we made the right decision by going the chemo route. You hear so much about chemotherapy and what it can do to your body. I just could not be 100% on the idea of putting drugs into my body that would harm it...maybe 99%, but not 100% :) The drugs would do it's job by killing the cancer cells, but it would also take a toll on my white blood count too, putting me at more of a risk for infections. Andrew knew this part of my hesitation and totally set me straight. He knows me so well. Now, many things in the bible can be interpreted in many different ways, so if this interpretation is not correct, oh well :) It helped me because Andrew made me smile, calmed me down, and put my faith back in God in this situation. He told me the story in 2 Kings 5:1-19. Where the prophet told the man with leprosy to wash himself in the Jordan river and his flesh would be restored. But the man with leprosy, like me, doubted this kind of treatment because the water in the Jordan was much more dirty than the waters of another river, like in Damascus. He followed through with what the prophet said and washed himself seven times in the the Jordan river and was cured from his disease. Once again, I am not a pastor or theologists so don't hold that against me, I'm just a believer in Christ and that He can heal. Even with dirty chemo drugs :) HAHA!! TONS of people are cured by using chemotherapy drugs. And chemo has come SOOO far in the past 20 years. Andrew reminded me that I am not a cancer doctor, and that I can be healed by using this method. Now this I 100% agree with! I KNOW I will be healed by using the chemo drugs (its just so hard to get past the actual medical part behind it sometimes :) And if I'm not healed for some crazy, no good reason...then I've left behind a part of me through this blog, and hopefully something good comes out of it. Andrew restored my faith in my treatment plan that Wednedsay night, and by knowing me so well, shared that story from the bible because he knows that is where I get my strength. Now, I am nowhere NEAR a perfect person by ANY means, but I'd be a fool to say that the bible has not helped guide me along the road of why stop now, right? It has insight to how we can live in this world and be completely happy. Knowing that people gave up their lives so that I could have that kind of religious freedom gets me choked up. We so often forget about those kind of freedoms and potential happiness that we can have by living in America.
So Andrew, thank you for knowing me so well that that you know exactly how to calm me down, loving me so much that nothing will stand in your way to get me healthy, and for simply being you. You are wonderful to me :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Got through the First Round of Chemotherapy today!!!
Ever seen The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly?? Well, here's my version :)

The Good - ANDREW GOT ME AN IPOD TOUCH!!! YEAH!!!!! I have been wanting an iPod so badly and I finally got one! The running joke is that it took me getting cancer for Andrew to finally get me one. :) It is so cool! Today during treatment, we just sat there playing with it almost the whole 2 hours or more of treatment. It was totally a distraction from the IV so it was great for me! Andrew downloaded my favorite songs, pictures, and the Cancer Center even has WiFi so I can be on the Internet too! I love living in this new century of technology! I can watch videos, play games...a ton of stuff to keep me busy during treatments. I love it and I love him!! Thank you so much Andrew!!
So there I was, laying back in my chair, hooked up to the drugs, listening to Jack Johnson during the smooth drugs and Juliana Theory during the last drug that seemed to hurt a little more. I can't wait to put the CD of Praise and Worship music that Krysti made me and the new CD that Natalie gave me. Thanks so much girls, it was so nice!

The Bad - It stung just a little bit when they hooked me up to the IV from the port, but that should feel better once my port wound is all healed. Also it felt TOTALLY weird when they administered the drugs. They all have to be refrigerated so when they ran through my veins, it was so cold! I can only compare it to swimming. Have you ever been swimming where the deeper you go, you instantly feel a cold sensation? Thats what it felt like. They gave me a shot that should help with nausea for the next few days. That's good:) Then a steroid shot...I heard I might not sleep with this tonight. I had to eat a pop-cycle during the 'A' drug so I won't get any of the side effects to the mouth, the 'V' and 'D' drugs were a breeze, but the 'B' drug gave me a little trouble. Nothing too bad, I just felt a lot more queezy and irritated in the chest. (As a side note, I have a new friend from Wisconsin who was diagnosed with the same cancer the same week I was and her tumors are in the same place. She is 28 and just had a baby last week! Keep her family in prayers too, as I almost feel guilty that this happened in such a perfect time in my life right now. No kids and no work cause I'm a teacher and have the summers off. She is a definitely a Warrior Chick and an inspiration to me! Thanks Cheri for suggesting this book! It's called Warrior Chick, check it out sometime if you have time Ladies!) Anyway, chemo side effects are no fun. Right now, it feels like having the flu. The nausea just comes in waves, but only last a few minutes. I had a head ache for most of the afternoon and slept a TON! Meds are wonderful though! And Andrew has taken such great care of me. He's there for anything that I need, he's been wonderful! This is me at the Cancer Center getting my first round of treatment. It was so surreal walking up there today. Never would I have EVER thought I would be doing this. Andrew and I even walked in slow motion to the door, just to have the full effect like the movies do. :) All we were missing was the breeze in our hair! We gotta make the best of this you know, anything to make you laugh!
and The Ugly - well, here it is. I wanted to see what the port looked like, but all I found was this ugly thing! The nurse took off the bandage today and OUCH! I had one big piece of tape over it, and she tried to go easy, but peeling band aids off are the worst! I get to shower tonight so I can clean up the wound a little bit more...not to mention clean this girl up a little too! I must say I'm not in my prime appearance stage of life right now :)

We got to pray with some ladies at our church this morning. So nice to have them around and help lift us up during this time like all of you are doing. I loved that they added Andrew to pray for too, he is just as much apart of this as I am. And tonight my dad made us potato soup and watermelon/cantaloupe salad....SO GOOD! So for the rest of the night, Andrew and I are counting our blessings and enjoying each others company. Its a Friends and the Office rerun kinda night :)
Yesterday, was another busy day! My moma and I went to St.Rita's again to get the Pulmonary Function test done. This was RIDICULOUS! Since I can't take a deep breath anyway because of the tumor AND can't take even a deeper breath because of the port being put in a day before, needless to say, I did not pass this test. The nurse kept saying 'Let's try it again.' And finally I asked, 'Am I failing this test?'. She said 'Well, you could be doing better.' Shot in the heart! I decided that I can't pass them all, so oh well. They just needed baseline data to so that when they test me again during treatment, the drugs are not effecting my lung function at all. Well, honestly, I did so bad it can only go up from here :) I was getting kinda down about this during the test, then God intervened and helped me out. Like usual! He brought in the mom of one of my best friends growing up. She was my first 'girl' friend I ever had (that's when the boys I used to play with in the neighborhood decided I was a girl and wouldn't play with me anymore :) We literally played Barbies and swam at the pool for HOURS at a time. I was brought to tears when I saw her mom and her motivating words for me. SOOO....after that test I asked my mom to take me to my friends work to surprise her. I can't believe how much I've missed her! We all went out to lunch at Kewpee (this time I ate everything!). It was such a good time catching up and made me see that I have some really good friends out there. Love you, Ash!
Ash and I at Kewpee.
I also had some other visitors who mean the world to me. My coworker who teaches with me and her daughter came over (with an Oreo Blizzard!). We sat and talked for like an hour and a half...what I do best :) So nice to have her in my life...she is a true and real inspiration to me. Thanks Dena and Kiley! Oh, and while they were here I had flowers delivered from the Ladies Auxiliary at the Lima Fire Dept. They are beautiful and make me smile each time I see them :o)
Thanks ladies! I'm thinking a good cruise in the future for us!! Then later that night, I went to Beer Barrel with my oldest sis Julie and to a movie-Sarah, our other sister had to work so she couldn't join us for sisters night :( It was still fun though. Good food, not so good movie. Eclipse was not that great, anyone else agree? The book was hard to get through anyway, not like the other two which I flew through! Lucky for you, there were no posters of Eclipse so Julie and I didn't get a picture with Team Edward or Team Jacob...I know, we spared you all :) All in all, a great time spent with family and friends today.

Although late last night, I went to the fire station to see Andrew because I was getting nervous about the treatment and chemo drugs. I'll fill you in all later on the details about the night (It was really kinda cool what was said) cause I'm starting to get tired, but once again, he was able to calm me down, make me laugh, kiss me good-bye, and send me home in comfort. He is my love and is living up to the vow he pledge...For better or worse, in sickness and in health :)

Well, that's pretty much the gist of today and surprised I stayed awake to write even this much. The Lord is my strength I guess! He IS the ultimate healer you know :)
Until next time friends!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ode to my Tumor

So I couldn't go without sharing with you all a little poem I wrote for my little monster friend who will be leaving my body soon.
Tomorrow is the big day my little this one's for you, Monster...
Dearest Monster
I know you are at home
But I'm afraid it's time to leave.
The time has come, and I know...
I've given you so little time to grieve
So please pack up your cancer cells,
And take them out with you.
And pick up your little friend in my neck,
Cause he can go with you, too.
Please don't be sad as you work your way out.
Cause it was my battle to win from the start.
But don't worry, cause I'll always remember you
Your legacy will live in my heart.
Let's cut out the 'See ya later's'
And lets just say 'Good-Bye'.
Cause my Little Monster....
This was one heck of a ride!
Tomorrow starts the beginning of my chemotherapy treatment and new health.....
HIP HIP HURRAY!!!! (as my daddy used to say :o)
Love and prayers you all!
Good Night :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

After a long's still a Thumbs Up!

In the room at St.Rita's Medical Center right after surgery :o)

Hey friends!!
Today I woke up before the sun came up, 5:15 to be exact. I haven't done that in a long time and not looking forward to doing it again anytime soon. :) This girl loves her sleep! I was so glad that Andrew was able to get off work an hour early today so that he could be there with me today as I got my PowerPort put in. This is what the nurses at the Cancer Center are going to use to hook my IV's during chemotherapy up to. It will save my veins in the long run so the pain right now is all worth it. This story of today is kinda crazy...

I couldn't believe how calm I was this morning. Maybe I was still sleeping, but as I waited in the pre-op room I was doing so good. I even bled like crazy from the IV and I was still good! No Xanax this time! (I probably would have taken it if they offered, but I had to wait to see the doctor before any drugs could be administered). So after the IV was put in, I said a quick good-bye to Andrew, and I was wheeled to the operating room. When we got there, only one person was in this huge room. He said the doctor and nurse were running late so we would get started as soon as they got there. So needless to say, I started getting nervous as I watched him prep the big, bad operating room for forty minutes as more and more people started showing up. Literally, everything I think they do before you get wheeled into the room, I was there watching him do it. My hope would have been that everything was ready when I got there, that way they could sedate me within minutes and then on with the show! But since I couldn't have any drugs before I talked to the doctor, I watched as they hooked me up to machines, cleaned my chest, unwrapped all the tools they were going to use (yes...NEEDLES!), put the operating blanket on me, then to top it off...put the curtain up around my head so I couldn't see anything. Then we just WAITED! My heartbeat was no less than 100 beats per minute and they kept telling me to take a deep breath and try to calm down. I wasn't hysterical or anything, just the nervous tears. They all were trying so hard to comfort me. But I tell you, I thought to myself that I must be stronger than what I think I am. Because the ol saying says that God doesn't give us more than we can handle, well He was pushing it today :) Today was a situation that I never thought I would get through, it was like the stories you hear about being awake during surgery. It was funny, I even reminded them before we got started to give me the meds (just in case they forgot...I mean it seriously felt like forever, and they weren't talking to me mainly, so I wondered if they would forget!)

So during this time that I am just laying on the table under this curtain, I thought 'God, if You are putting me through this right now, when You KNOW how anxious I get, You must be trying to tell me something.' If all that came out of today is that I needed to know that I am stronger than what I think I am capable of, then that's ok. I'll take it, because I actually did come out of there more confident. I conquered a huge fear today, and I am pretty proud of myself. So often we don't give ourselves credit. I will admit that I could have done better in there today, I would have not liked for them to see me cry or be so anxious, but at that time it was ok. Actually, the nurse came over to me and started telling me about her daughter and how she had the same surgery I had 5 years ago, Chiari Malformation. My emotions gave me the opportunity to talk to this nurse openly, and in return, I started to breath easier, and my heart rate came down. She did her job well too I might add :)

Then the doc got there and he did a great job. The meds went in within minutes and I was in my dream world again. No pain (except for the burning numbing needle again...but this time I knew what was coming so I was prepared:) and we were once again done before I knew it. I was bandaged up and taken back to my room where I felt great and even ate a turkey sandwich. What I should have remembered from last time (bone marrow biopsy) was that the numbing wears what did I do as soon as I left??? Not Wal-Mart, but went to both my sis's house because I insisted that they had to have the pictures I had from vacation. Andrew being the good husband he is, said 'Are you sure?' and I said, 'Ya, I feel great!' Well, we didn't stay long and went straight home...just like before. Actually, it was like de' ja vu...I went to sleep for three hours and ate grandma's leftovers again. The pain right now will be worth it in the end. I have stitches in two places, the first one is on the right side of my chest where the port was installed and the second is near my neck by the jugular vein. They ran the catheter up from the port, inserted it into the jugular vein at my neck, then ran it to the heart. Right now my chest and neck are just sore from the surgery, so that means it should wear off here in a couple days.

Andrew was awesome again. He moved my favorite chair from the den to the living room. I think I will sleep there tonight because it hurts to lay down straight. Jon, one of our great friends came over to make brats for supper (not just any brats...awesome brats!). And my sister Sarah came over to help me wash my hair because I can't do it by myself at the moment. She even dried and straightened it too. Tomorrow I have another busy day. Pulmonary Function Test in the morning with my moma (which I'm still curious to see how this will go over since I am only getting about half the deep breath as I could before the Port was put in), visiting with some friends, and then finally seeing Eclipse with my sister Julie!

Andrew's grandma sent me a verse from the Bible that helps during situations like today when I felt like I was being tested by God on my strength. Its Romans 12:12 - 'Rejoice in hope, be patient in adversity, and constant in prayer.' I really did just need to be patient today in the operating room, pray for my strength, and rejoice in the fact that I will be healed in just a short time, and then of the long life I will live!

Thank you all for your continued support,


Monday, July 12, 2010

SO BUSY...but so much fun!!!

I must say, when I asked the Lord to keep me busy...He came through! One of my bestest Ash gave me two days of fun! Since Andrew was at drill on Sunday and worked today, she kept my mind off of this upcoming week. Her family has a house at Indian Lake and on Sunday, while Andrew was at Army drill in Dayton, we went for a boat ride! I sat in the sun the WHOLE TIME! I gotta soak it all up now while I can before treatment starts :) The day was so fun, docking the boat to eat, swimming at the sand bar, and a boat ride through the canal (I saw another turtle!). I've decided that when I retire, THAT is what I am going to do everyday...but in the Caribbean of course :) Thank you SO much Oliver and Williams Clan!!
Love the Lake! My parents recently have a place at Indian Lake too, so right after the fun in the sun, I headed over there and met Andrew and my parents for supper. This drill was his LAST :) YEAH!!! I can't believe we made it six years without him deploying during a war. Not to say we didn't come close...3 times close....but God had different plans for Andrew and I am SOOOOO happy he doesn't have to go when his unit deploys again soon. I always pray for God's will to be done and that I will understand the 'whys?' later on, but I must say that I pray that he will not get a stop-loss and have to deploy with his unit this year. It's being greedy to keep him here, I know, but he did so good during his time served. We are both ready to say 'Good-Bye Army life' and move on with our new lives ahead. :)
Our last picture with the Army...Congratulations Sergeant Groman!

So that brings me to today (Monday)....and the fun didn't stop!!
I started the day by getting picked up by my good friend Kayla for my PET scan. She was a sport as she waited for me for two hours! So this PET thing was a little weird, I must say. First, I had to get my blood sugar tested which turned out great. Then she had to start an IV to put...yes, radioactive glucose in me! SO WEIRD! From what I understand, they do this because the radioactive glucose will go to the cancer cells. That way they know exactly where the cancer is. So let’s pray it is nowhere else in my body! Then, I had to sit in this dark room for an hour. No talking, no phone, no texting, no reading. Nothing! You had to lay still and 'try to sleep'. Well, I couldn't sleep because every time they shut a door outside, I jumped a mile high it was so loud! :) I did pass the time by singing in my head. You know, I love Praise and Worship music. I mean I LOVE it. I have loved it ever since I was a little girl singing As the Deer in church. But the words mean so much more to me now than ever before. Knowing that God is my strength through all of this just makes the words to the songs that much more powerful. A song that came into my head was one that I heard just recently...
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won't turn back I know you are near
And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?
Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me.
And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We'll live to know you here on the earth
Yes I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You.

Those It helped get me through that hour and before I knew it, the nurse came in to take me to the PET scanner. That was simple; I just had to lay there and stare at the wall...again. The best part?? Kayla took me to Bob Evans and it was soooo good! I ate Bob Evans almost every day for 4 years when I worked there and I still love the food. And I got to see all the 'morning ladies' too. So nice to see old friends again! OH, and I was radioactive all day...I had to carry around a card in case I set off metal detectors! CooL!

THEN...If my day couldn't have gotten any better after my besty K and Bob Evans...

Ash took me out for a day of pampering! She picked me up with a Margarita-flavored slush from Taco Bell in hand. I never had one before and it was so good! So good that I got a brain freeze I drank it so fast! Then we went to her beauty shop where I was treated with a new polish on the ol’ toes and a nice fresh hair do. It feels so good when YOU FEEL good about yourself. Then we went to the coolest part of our day together. Ash took me to a seminar she heard about at St.Rita's Hope Cancer Center for woman who have or has had cancer. They show all different kinds of make-up tips, hair tips, and skin tips at this seminar! Your body changes so much after treatments and the American Cancer Society, Personal Care Products Council Foundation, and the National Cosmetology Association sponsor this seminar called Look Good...Feel Better. It’s all about feeling beautiful in the hard days. We were surrounded by such courageous woman and it was totally awesome. I mean, inspiring awesome! All women of different ages, stages, different types of cancers, they were all there with the support of a loved one with them (thanks Ash for taking me to this!) The motto...WE ARE WOMEN :) I learned a lot of tips from being there (and got a lot of neat stuff!), but what I really learned was a life lesson. I learned that 'No matter how hard you think you have it, someone always has it harder than you.' I had heard this before from my grandpa, but it wasn't until I visually saw it that I now have it instilled in my heart. It could always be worse NEVER GIVE IN :) Don't ever let it get to that point in your life and KEEP ON FIGHTING! Don't ever stop holding on to hope, even when there's only a string left, that string can be God...and he DOES MIRACLES!

Now, off to bed...gotta be at St.Rita's at 6 AM for the port to be put in....
Oh, boy - this should be good... :)
God Bless You ALL!!!
Drinking our treats before our day of fun!
My bestest and hair stylist since fourth grade :)

Putting on my new make -up from the Look Good...Feel Better seminar