Friday, August 24, 2012

Sayonara chemo!

Guess what?? As of yesterday, I am DONE with chemo! As leary as I am about saying this as if it's official... this is the closest I have been to officially being finished with chemotherapy.

For any of you reading this that may be new, or in case you need a refresher, I thought I had completed my chemo way back on May 11th. Thought surgery was the next course of action in my treatment. Not so. After finishing that first regimen, I went for an MRI. My original tumor had shrunk down to nearly being invisible, but I still had involvement in that single, pesky internal mammary lymph node. My case was revisited by a group of doctors at a cancer conference, and my surgeon and oncologist decided it best I continue with the next chemo treatment outlined for me. 

Everyone was unanimous in believing it would be a crime to quit while I was ahead. My body was handling the treatment and responding well to it. And, although I didn't know it 100% at the time, this second go with the chemo was planned for me from the start. I had just expected it to be post-surgery and accompanied by my radiation.

So at this point in time, I have just completed my 12th and final infusion of Taxol. That was 3 months of going weekly for treatment. Grand total of chemo I have endured is 16 treatments. Fun times. ;) Haha.

Chemo #16 and 12/12 of Taxol. Guess how many are left? GOOSE EGG!

If I can close this chapter of my treatment, I think I will be over the moon. I need the break both mentally and physically. I have such a profound amount of admiration and respect for anyone who must go through chemo for longer than I have. The people who go for years? Seriously, I don't know how they do it. Who knows though. If I had to do it, I'm sure I could muster the strength too... but only with a little help from a holy fellow named Jesus. Hehe

I will have more info next Thursday on what is happening for me next, but as I have said before, it will likely be a whole lot of rinse and repeat. MRI or PET scan. Wait for results, then make appointment to see my breast surgeon. Get his word and go from there. That's all the peering into the near future I'd like to do right now.

Final bag o' chemo!

I'm in some kind of elated sense of shock that my chemotherapy may be done. It's been my life since the end of March, so I'm waiting for it all to sink in.

Time for another rewind to earlier in the week. This past Monday, my SIL Marylou and our friend Denise (who make up Team Anj for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day in San Diego) held their first fundraiser. Tacos for Ta-tas! It was held at a Rubio's, and everyone who brought a flyer for it and made a purchase had a portion of the proceeds donated to the team.

I was happy the hubby and I were able to attend, because it was very touching to see all the people who are supporting us. So many people I had never even met and some people who have known me since I was a child. Heck, even my longtime close friend Mike, of whom I hadn't seen in probably a solid decade, stopped by after a long day at work to donate!! Definitely melted my heart to be surrounded by all my loved ones along with these other compassionate supporters.

So, seriously... God bless all of you who donated. God bless all of you who showed up. And a huge thank you to Marylou and Denise for doing it! It was a great turn out, and it once again helped renew my will to fight. I simply refuse to let down the Lord, myself, or any of my supporters.

Lovely Marylou & Denise along with myself & all my family at Tacos for Ta-tas!

If any of you reading this would be interested in to donating, please visit the Team Anj site. All proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen foundation which is completely dedicated to the fight against breast cancer all across the world. They help save lives of breast cancer patients and aid in funding for finding a cure.

You'd think I would have more to say this week, but that's all I've got for now! :)

Please keep those prayers coming as they've absolutely helped, and I know I'll be needing them for this next leg of my battle. I'll be posting next week when I have more info to share.

In the meantime, God bless you all and have a splendid weekend!

' Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear… Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” ' Luke 12:22-25

Thursday, August 16, 2012

When my second life began

Today I had my second to last infusion. Violet took me again today. I love that woman. She has never been anything but loving and treated me as one of her own. I hope she knows how much that means to me. :) We had our usual awesome talk (and went to Lucille's BBQ for lunch when I was done! Yum!!). With the exception of roughly an hour that is.

We were the first ones in the treatment room, and it filled up to max capacity at one point. Mommy-in-law had to give up her seat and retreat to the waiting room until a seat opened back up. I dozed off while she was away. Hehe.

Chemo treatment #15 and 11/12 of Taxol. ONLY ONE TO GO NOW! P.S. My oncologist nurse Julie lent a hand for this pic. ;) 

Once she had returned, we wound up chatting with a familiar face I have frequently seen in the treatment room. I, sadly, don't even know his name. Jason calls him 'John Lennon', haha... he does resemble him! Anyway, we were discussing our types of cancer and where we were in treatment. He has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He comes in once every two weeks, and had number 8 (out of a total of 12) of his today.

The thing I have always genuinely admired and liked about this gentleman, is the way he never stops smiling. He's friendly to everyone who enters into that room, no matter how grumpy they are. We talked about how much something like cancer redefines you. Like, really and truly. How much we both believe having a positive attitude helps in your healing, minimizes side effects, etc. I'm not sure if this man is spiritual at all, so I didn't press on it too much but I did immediately think of my faith as the guiding light largely responsible for my positivity.

A neighbor of his who had recently won her own battle against breast cancer described it perfectly:

"The day I was diagnosed was the day my first life ended and my second life began".

In a few days, it will have been exactly 5 months since I was diagnosed. So, it seems surreal to think I may be coming up around the bend on my final chemotherapy treatment. Especially since the majority of that time has been spent getting chemo.

I am not bitter to lose out on that time however. Quite the contrary. I'm alive because of this time I have "lost". How can I be angry about that? Forgive me for sounding like a broken record, but I was gifted this extra time in my life. I like to think it was for a much greater purpose that I have yet to discover. Another thing I will begin praying wholeheartedly about. The Lord has called me, so I know He will also fulfill in enlightening me as to why. How do I know? Well, He's cool like that. Duh. ;)

Thinking back on everything I have been through in these past months, I am impressed with myself that I made it to be so nearly on the other side. I have a mental checklist. After next week, I will be able to cross off rocking the shit out of chemo!  Lol, that is going to be a superbly glorious thing if I do say so!

Dang. You know where that will leave me afterwards though, right? Back to that anxious period of appointments, test results, and waiting. I have decided this time around though... I'm letting go. I'm giving it up to God, fully. It's in His hands anyway.

Speaking of, I suppose I should revisit some days from earlier in the week here. That mystery thing on my port incision scar? Yep. Turned out to be a suture or something after all. Not infected, as I never did receive a phone call saying either way. And no news is good news within the realm of medical anythings.

Tuesday, my parents came out for a visit. It's always so comforting to see them. We had a fun time. Mostly just talking and enjoying being together. And you know, I love them both so dearly. They are some of the sweetest, most generous and loving people on the face on the planet. Anyone who knows my Mom and Dad will definitely agree.

Other than that visit my week was mostly comprised of resting, as I seem to need more and more rest again, and playing World of Warcraft. As exciting as I'm sure that sounds to you all, I still know it could be way worse. And I'm surely grateful that it's not been any worse. :P Haha.

Besides, I need save my reserves of stored up Anj-energy on pwning whatever difficulties are ahead of me with this cancer business.

Although I don't know what all these difficulties will entail just yet, I am giving them a preliminary acceptance of their challenge.



Hahaha, okay... I've got a couple of inspirational songs to share for the week, and then that'll be a wrap everybody!

God bless you all. Hoping you have the best weekend ever with an even better week! And if it isn't turning out to be either, try to make it so!

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."   Romans 8:28

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mercies in disguise

I am feeling very full today. Like how could God possibly grant me any further blessings than He already has? It may seem loco for me to say, but this disease is a blessing.

As much as it can be stressful and more than a lifetime's share worth of hardship, I am so blessed to have to go through this experience.

It's in the little things. In the past few weeks, I've gotten a lot of little presents and cheer up things in the mail from loved ones. A mystery gift giver who sent me a new phone case and some awesome necklaces. The pink collectable breast cancer awareness Darth Vader helmet I sorely wanted from our dear friends TJ and Dana. A book, buttons of my personal pwn cancer logos, bookmark and letters from my long-time close friend Kylie. Dinner when we had colds, a card and a Catholic holy scapular from our good friend Samara. A Star Wars postcard and flowers from our cousin Becca. A box full of pretty new headscarves from my Mom and Dad. A box of Rocky Mountain Chocolate candies from our cousins Jeff and Jennifer. The breast cancer site box of goodies our wonderful SIL Lindsay sent.

Then there's my other SIL Marylou who is still going to do the Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure in my honor. Both of my brothers sporting pink watches to support me. There's also the purple flowers Jason brought me the other day, just because he loves me (and because purple is my favorite color). Not to mention the continual help from my parents and Jason's dad and stepmom. Or the times my mommy-in-law Violet devotes to take me to treatment to keep me company and treat me to lunch, and now my sis-in-law Briana did so today. :) Etc. etc. etc.

Just a few of the ones I have mentioned.
The list goes on and on since way back in March. There has been so many other gifts and warm wishes I've received along the way so far. And truthfully, I can't tell you how much all these thoughtful acts have warmed my heart. They usually arrive on days when I'm in need of a smile and an extra push to keep going.

From all those acts of kindness, I see all my blessings. I see blessings in others. I see Christ's light through their generosity and love... and it makes me feel whole. I'm again saying in spite of how I feel sometimes, "THIS!! THIS is why I am going through this". Yes, it can bring out the ugly in some people, but it mostly brings out the good. To be honest, I think that's the answer to the ever burning question on many believers and nonbelievers minds: why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? It's because of all this. It helps uncover who a person really is inside. It is in times of suffering that we show our true colors. Whether it be our own, or a loved one's or HECK! Even a stranger's.

I know that I alone have benefited from my bout with the C in exponentially boundless ways. I have never strayed far with my faith and spirituality, but I am immeasurably closer to the Lord due to all I have gone through. I am continually striving to better my spirit now. I'll allow myself to give in to those negative thoughts once in a fortnight or two, but then it's right back on the unicorn! Haha, I'm such a nerd to use the word fortnight! :B

Oh, and yeah. Right back on the unicorn. Because a sparkly magical horned ponybeast is so much more fiercely formidable and better sorted to be my mount than a plain ol' horse!

Anyway, last week I noticed I had devrloped this weird blister type thing on my port-a-cath incision scar. Not sure when it really popped up, but I kept an eye on it after I initially noticed it. I asked my nurse Michelle what she made of it when I had my treatment last Thursday. She didn't seem concerned. She thought it was some dried blood after my port was accessed once that got trapped between my skin and the port itself. I felt reassured. All was good.

All this week, I kept checking on it. It looked a little bigger and had gotten red around it. I was scared that whatever it was, was becoming infected. I visited the urgent care across the street yesterday to find out what was going on. There are two doctors who help out at that urgent care, and one happened to be my primary care physician, of whom I had never actually met before! When we first moved out here, I picked her because she was female and local and that was that. Never had a need to see her. Thankfully, she squeezed me in (instead of having to see one of the back-up docs). She took a needle and took a small amount of liquid from the blister-whatever-it-is-thingy. She didn't think it was infected, but sent it away for testing to be precautious. I was nervous about that because if it turns out to be an infection, that would mean having to go get my port removed ASAP. Delays with chemo. Etc.

Today before my infusion, I asked both Julie and Michelle to take a look at it. Again, Michelle looked at it. She told me instantly that it wasn't an infection. She said she's almost certain that it's one of my sutures trying to come out. Apparently it will either work itself out somehow, or I can go have my surgeon pluck it out if it becomes more of a pain. PHEW. Now, that's not 100% absolute, but I do trust her knowledge. She's been an oncologist nurse for 28 years. Either way we'll find out for sure if it's infected between next Monday and Wednesday some time.

Now how does this all relate to what I've been saying you ask? Well, it was another test for me to trust. To trust God that He's in control and He knows what is in my best interest. Whether it's the way I'd like it to be or not is not up to me. I prayed last night specifically letting Him know that he had my trust, fully.

I don't think I have been able to do that with utter sincerity more than you can count on one hand. When you give in to Him, He gives back to you.

Chemo treatment #14, ladies and gents! 10/12 of Taxol! My sis-in-law Bre's fingers are featured in this one!

Treatment today was nice and easy. I had pleasant company, as mentioned earlier, my SIL Bre took me today. ^_^ And to make it even better, after today --

I have only 2  left to go!!!

Why I do believe that's nearly almost doable you know. ;)

Sorry all, just a couple more things to add before I hit publish. Haha.

Chatting with my other SIL Heather the other day, she recommended I send my story in to the Ellen DeGeneres Show for a chance at a relaxing couples get away sort of dealy. Well, I realized I had no photo of the hubby and I taken since my Birthday. We took one today, and I then sent in my story. I have no idea if it will do any good or get any notice, but I'm excited at the thought. Jason and I love Ellen anyway. :) She's easily one of the funniest women comediennes there are, and she seems so kindhearted and genuine. A rarity in the realm of celebrities.

Lastly, I have a gorgeous song to share that sums up everything I've talked about earlier in this post. So, even if you normally skip out on listening to the songs I post, I implore you to give this one a listen. It's very powerful and delivers a very similar message:

God bless you and thank you for following along, or for reading for the first time. As always, your interest and/or support is greatly appreciated. :)

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock"  Matthew 7:24-25

Friday, August 3, 2012

This battle will be won

Getting so close to the end of the chemo finish line now! After yesterday's treatment, I have 3 remaining. Hooray! Also, I scheduled my follow up appointment with my oncologist for a week after my final treatment. I feel better having that lined up because that gives us a good starting point for finding out my next post-chemo steps this time.

Chemo #13 - 9/12 of Taxol. Hubby lending some fingers again.

I was so disillusioned last time by first getting news I was finished with chemotherapy only to be thrown into a longer treatment plan, that I'm wary of saying I'll be finished finished with it soon. But I like to think I will be! Haha. Like, officially and entirely finished with it. You know, being finished with chemo for the rest of my lifetime would be swell, but even if it's just for now... I'll be pleased as punch (Lol, where does that saying even come from? Is punch really that pleased?). I'm pretty sure that my husband appreciates the thought of this chemo stuff being done with soon too. ;)

By the time I have that follow up with my doctor, it will have been nearly 5 months of chemotherapy. I can't believe there are people who have to do it nonstop for something like 15 or 18 months. Poor souls. My heart goes out to them. The physical toll it takes on one is enough on its own, add in the mental/emotional strain and it's just stupidly hard.

But, thank the Lord, I have only three more in my foreseeable future! An end in sight is a mighty beautiful one at that. :) And I'm ecstatic to have my fighting spirit back. I needs it!

I'm only going to have to be a shut in for several more weeks. I miss having a normal immune system! Haha. I asked for my labs yesterday, and my WBC was at 2.6.  Of course I realize my WBC will probably decline some more by the last infusion, but I'll be free to take vitamins and stuff to boost it back up I believe?

Well, ladies and gents, that's all I have for now!  Have a beautiful and most blessed weekend and a wonderful week to follow.

"Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."  Psalm 62:8