Sunday, February 26, 2012

Seasons of Our Lives

It was a beautiful winter day here....bright blue skies and temperatures in the low 50's. In the late afternoon, Mark asked me if I wanted to go take a walk in the park. We've always loved walking in a nearby park but we never were able to go last year because I never felt up to it with the surgery and radiation treatments and such.
So I happily went. The trail we do goes through the woods up a few hills and alongside a pond for a while. I wondered how I would feel walking it but today was the best I've felt in months since before my surgery in December. There was hardly anyone there when we arrived so we took off down the trail and Mark told me that I should set the pace and we could turn around whenever we needed. The middle of the trail is the steepest and I did pretty well. =) Then we arrived at the pond and we stopped awhile to just watch the water and birds (even a Eastern bluebird!) and listen to the silence....complete silence.
I started thinking about the seasons of our lives and how a year ago I still felt as if I was in the summer of my life...late summer perhaps, but still summer. However, with my cancer diagnosis last May, I started feeling like perhaps I am in the fall of my life....maybe only September, but still fall. Then these last few weeks I really felt like fall...late fall. I've been praying for discernment about my medication and I realized that I would really like to be able to feel as if I was back in late summer. So I may try the medicine again and see if I do any better and I may even try the other possible medications. But if I go back to feeling like I did two weeks ago, I think that I may just stop and put it all in our dear Lord's hands and try to get myself back to summer for a while. The odds without the meds are still strongly in my favor... I could have a very good chance of staying cancer free. But if not, then I have moments too of longing for the joys of heaven....on a lovely day such as we had today it is a wonder to imagine how beautiful it must be.
A blessed peaceful Sunday to all. =)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

I know it's been a long time since I've written. For some reason I'm having a difficult time blogging these days. I've started many posts and have deleted them, unable to finish, but I will try again. =)
My surgery went fairly well though it was much more complicated than my doctor anticipated and took twice as long. Lots and lots of scar tissue from 25 years ago when I had exploratory surgery trying to cure my infertility. From what he told me and what I saw on the video afterwards, that surgery just probably made my infertility worse but I had no way of knowing. The doctor was amazed that I hadn't had other abdominal pain and problems (or more than I did).God is good indeed.
Recovery was crazy with the kitchen remodeling going on and Christmas on the way. I spent many, many hours on the couch trying to do anything I could to get ready and frustrated at times that I couldn't do more.
The first few days were the worst. I was in a bit of pain and had trouble with the pain meds making me nauseous so I stuck to plain old Tylenol which didn't quite do as much as I would have liked but it was bearable. I remember crying on Sunday night on Mark's shoulder telling him that I wished I had never had the surgery and how I wish I could go back and say no to it all. That was probably one of my most down moments.
Things slowly improved, however, and we managed to get the presents wrapped and the house put back and decorated in time for Christmas. We even hosted Christmas Day dinner! (with lots of help!)
Then on January 2nd, I began taking anastrozole, a medication that would further deplete my body of estrogen which can feed the type of breast cancer I had. The only change I noticed the first few weeks was increased hot flashes....sometimes 20-30 times a day, many at night which was very disruptive to my sleep. Then in the beginning weeks of February, I noticed that my right hand was getting very sore and numb, especially at night. Slowly, day by day, the joint and muscle pain became worse. If I sat for more than five minutes, getting up was painful. Every joint in my body hurt it seemed. Pain was sometimes shooting up the back of my head from my neck. Last Saturday it became really bad. My hand was so weak that I couldn't turn the faucet in the bathroom or open the orange juice bottle for breakfast. Everyone who has endured the joint and muscle pain says that you should keep moving so I tried to keep moving all day. I even did some vacuuming but that brought problems when I tried to change the attachments. My hand wasn't strong enough to do it. I burst into tears (another side effect of this medicine, thank you) and Michael came to my rescue. I went to Adoration and had to struggle to get myself up from kneeling. I felt like 84 instead of 54.
That evening, Mark and I watched some TV and sitting on the couch for more than an hour meant I needed Mark to help me get up. Very frustrating and scary. Even though I was exhausted, I kept waking up all night because of the numbness and pain in my right hand and arm.
So Sunday morning I decided to not take the medicine and see how I did. The pain was slightly better so I haven't taken the medicine since last Saturday and every day brings improvement in how I feel.
Now the difficult part comes. I have to decide whether or not I am going to keep taking this medicine. It does reduce my chances of the cancer recurring by 3 to 5% which doesn't sound like much but if I stopped taking it and the cancer returns, will I be angry at myself for not going on? On the other hand, I have done some research online and have read about some women who have had to go through numerous surgeries on their joints, especially their hands, because of the medication. Some women have even ended up crippled.
Some women say that they keep taking it and after 6 to 12 months the pain improves. It is so difficult to know what to do. I only have about a 10% chance of it coming back and the meds improves that to 5 to 7% so I have to wonder if I want to spend the next five years absolutely miserable for that difference. There are also women who take the medicine and the cancer comes back anyway.
The side effects were hitting me quickly and strongly so I'm worried that it could get worse. There is also the possibility of heart and/or liver damage from it. Ugh.
Of course many women start taking other medications to offset the side effects and some of those cause problems. One woman I read about has been on narcotics for the pain for several years which sounds pretty scary to me.
So I'm now faced with this decision. I may try taking the medication every other day for a while and see how I do with that. I have several weeks before I go back to see my oncologist and I do want to be able to say that I gave this a good try. Some women have given themselves a break from the meds and then started them up again with less side effects. There are also two other medications that I could try though they usually have the same side effects.
So I keep praying for the wisdom to make the right decision. Mark has already told me that he would completely understand why I would want to stop, especially after seeing how miserable it has made me but I know other women have struggled through the whole five years. I was really hoping to be able to get through at least two years...
Any prayers you could send my way would be greatly appreciated. I know our dear Lord has a plan and I want to trust in His plan. Perhaps for me, it will be putting my life in His hands and living it to the fullest without the medication.

A blessed day to all...=)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Surgery Tomorrow

I would greatly appreciate prayers for my surgery tomorrow. It's scheduled for 11:30 and should take about two hours. The doctor gave me a long list of possible complications and I've been reading about all the"joys" of instant menopause (more difficult than normal menopause) so I must admit I'm a bit nervous but I keep telling myself that our dear Lord has a plan in it all. Last night before going to bed I was very tired and it all hit me and the tears started and the fear crept in that my life will never be the same. Perhaps it won't be, but Mark kept comforting me with the thought that things will be all right and that I will get through with His strength and His grace.

Last night Beth and I went to see a production of White Christmas with some other mothers and daughters, and as I was sitting there, I noticed in the audience one of my high school friends. Her husband died several weeks after I was diagnosed last May and I remembered how I felt going to his funeral and seeing her pain. It was all so surreal to me then that she was widowed and that I had cancer. Those feelings came back seeing her and I teared up a bit sitting there last night and the reality of it hit me all over again. I imagine that there have been times when she wished she could wake up and have her husband back just like I've had moments of wishing I could go back to my life before cancer.
But I reminded myself that life moves forward....we are all on that journey to our eternal home and the dear Lord has asked us to trust in Him and move forward through these difficult times. I must admit to having moments of wavering but I have also been graced with moments of thanksgiving that the dear Lord has entrusted me with this opportunity to grow in grace through this suffering.
I pray that I have the strength, the faith, the grace to accept it all and offer it up peacefully and joyfully.
Thank you again for all of your prayers. You have all been such a comfort to me.

Dear Blessed Mother, please pray for me....

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Better This Time

I was thinking yesterday that the last time I went for a mammogram, it was cool and rainy just like yesterday. I even parked my car in the same place. But this time, I came out with a smile on my face....all clear and it will be six months before I have to go again.
Now I just have to get through the surgery on Friday.
Thank you again, everyone, for the prayers....=)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Next Step

I'm feeling more nervous this morning than I expected. I have to go for my first mammogram since surgery and I didn't think it was bothering me but this morning there's that little fear that they will find something new.
When I went to the oncologist a few weeks back, she was not upset that I had stopped the medicine. In fact, it was definitely the right thing to do. Unfortunately, the tamoxifen has now caused other issues and I am now scheduled to have a hysterectomy and my ovaries removed on Friday. Instant menopause here I come. Many combining factors in my life now put me at a higher risk for ovarian cancer and I will be a little relieved to not have that worry.
But it is crazy around here with our kitchen being remodeled and Christmas coming. I have about a hundred things I would like to get finished this week but I know it simply isn't all going to happen.
And I have peace with that. It's been so strange that through all of this, I have rarely prayed for my healing. I have left that prayer for my family and friends and have mainly prayed that our dear Lord will bless me with the grace and strength to offer it all not waste the suffering. But some days this is not easy to do and I have found myself praying this time that there will be no complications with this surgery; that all will go well and that the side effects of the new medication that I will need to take won't be too bad.
I keep reminding myself that I need to trust in His plan for my life. Every day that we live is simply a step to the final our eternal home.
I am so thankful for all of the prayers and for all of the support of my family and friends and am humbled by the prayers of people who I've only met online....the blessings that come from my brothers and sisters in Christ that are all over the world.
God is good indeed, always.
A blessed day to all....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Six Months Out

Last week marked the six month point since my diagnosis. This morning I have an appointment with my oncologist which I'm dreading. I started taking tamoxifen six weeks ago and it didn't go well. I was having scary side effects and I felt like I had a permanent case of terrible PMS. Poor Mark...
I stopped taking it without calling my doctor because I was afraid she would tell me to keep taking it anyway...long story and I have found that people really don't want to know all of the details. The few people who ask me how I am these days really only want to hear me say that I'm doing fine so that's what I have learned to tell them.
So I know the oncologist isn't going to be happy with me this morning and that I will have to move on to option 2 which probably won't be fun either. But that's my life right now...
So any prayers you could send my way would be greatly appreciated. I know the dear Lord has a plan and it's better than mine...
A blessed day to all....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Radiation Over, Now Vacation

Mark and I are enjoying the beautiful beaches and weather of Hilton Head this week and I thought I would take a minute to update here. I am so grateful to have radiation finished and behind me. The hormonal treatment phase is next....the one I'm actually dreading the most because it's supposed to go on for five years and there's too many options and nasty side effects possible and I'm still not feeling peaceful about it. Perhaps I will when I start.
For all who are not my facebook friends, we were in a car accident in our church parking lot on the 4th of September. Sounds like not a big deal at first, but a 15 year old with just his temps and no parent in the car with him, was driving their van from the back parking lot to pick up his mom near the church and came around a building going the wrong way and plowed into the side of our van. He was going at least 30 mph, probably faster, and pushed our whole van over the curb and then farther into the grass.
Michael was reaching up to put his seat belt on and the jolts made him dislocate his shoulder and hit his head on the side window. Mark hit his knee on the steering column and is still sporting a bruise there and also has bruises from his seat belt. My seat belt was right over my incision from my surgery and I am now bruised and sore all over again. John alone was unscathed....yay!
My poor van was totaled by their insurance company though our insurance company thought it was fixable so we're getting it answer to prayer.

So Mark and I are enjoying a rental vehicle for our vacation and hoping that things will be calmer when we return home. 2011 has not been our best year for sure and part of me is wondering what else might happen this year but I know that it is all part of His glorious plan....nothing happens to us that He has not allowed. He will see us through.

A blessed day to all....