Thursday, May 26, 2011

Back to Waiting Cancer Day 25

I am relieved to be able to write that the biopsy on my lymph node was cancer there....what a blessing! I was so happy for a few minutes thinking that now I would only need six weeks of radiation treatment and something to deal with the hormones that were feeding the cancer I had. Then the oncologist broke my happy bubble and told me that I may very well need chemotherapy after all. To say I'm not happy about this is putting it mildly. It's not just the months of feeling lousy; it's also the long-term effects that it could have. Will I be trading one illness for another? Who knows...

Fortunately, there is a new test for people with my type of breast cancer called Oncotype DX. They take a sample of the tumor and do a molecular study of it that can give some indication as to the chance of recurrence. I'm hoping that I have a very low number so that the doctor will think it's pointless to do chemo. Either way, I'm praying that the dear Lord will make whatever I'm supposed to do clear.

All the interruptions in my life is also affecting my prayer life. I've had myself in a routine and when I have early morning doctor appointments to deal with, it starts my day out all wrong. I had medical appointments on the last four days. Michael had an appointment on Monday with a cardiologist that turned out well; I had my bone scan and CT scan on Tuesday; John had an orthodontic appointment yesterday; I had my PET scan today. Monday I missed my morning prayer time because our alarm clock didn't go off and we woke up 35 minutes before it was time to leave for his 7:45 appointment. But fortunately, I did better the last three days and it always makes such a difference in the way my day goes.

For the most part, I have done well with handling it all emotionally but last Friday was a bad day. I have to admit I let myself get into a self-pity mode and cried a lot. Part of it is just all the changes in my life because of the disease and the feeling that I've lost control of my days. Friday night Mark and I went to Adoration for an hour and a half and what a difference it made! By the end of our time there, I had calmed down again and was feeling better about things. I'm really striving to trust our dear Lord with my life, but I do have moments of just plain feeling scared and sad.

On Tuesday, they had problems with my IV and ended up infiltrating me. By midafternoon, my arm was swelling up and then my hand starting getting numb and tingling. I called my doctor who told me to go to the ER. Poor Michael drove me there; he was more nervous than I was but I had heard some horror stories about infiltration and it's a bit unnerving to feel your skin getting tighter and tighter. Fortunately, a steroid shot helped a lot and by Wednesday afternoon, it was much better. I laughingly told the nurse who called me the next day that my tests might kill me before the cancer!

With three tests this week and my oncotype DX, I'm back to waiting for results again. I have an appointment with my oncologist next Thursday and I'm wondering if she will make me wait until then for the results. I know she won't want to tell me anything until she has all the results and with the holiday weekend, I'm not sure when that will be. I'm trying not to think about it too much but it's not always easy. I was laying on the table, going through the PET scan this morning, praying and hoping that nothing shows up...a strange feeling.

It is nice to think that I have no doctor appointments for a whole week....Yay!!! Tomorrow is our last day of school and I'm going to strive to just enjoy the long weekend and having some normal days. I'm also looking online for a place for Mark and I to go on vacation when my treatment is over. I'm really hoping that I just need radiation which means we could go on vacation in September. A week at the beach with my darlin' husband would be wonderful. If I need chemo, it might not happen. The earliest I would be able to finish my treatments in that case would be late November and I love the holidays so much that I wouldn't want to go then. I'll just have to put it all in His hands.

Jesus, I trust in You..heart

Thank you again, everyone, for your prayers...they mean so much to me. I hope and pray that all of you are having a blessed Thursday.heart

Monday, May 16, 2011

Morning of Surgery Day 15

I was awake early this hands are a bit shaky as I type. It is a cool, cloudy day...when I put up the shade in our bathroom this morning and I looked out, I asked the dear Lord if I could see one little glimpse of blue sky. Just then some clouds moved and I got a glimpse of a tiny patch of blue; very quickly it disappeared again. God is good, indeed.

"O God beyond all praising,

We worship you today

And sing the love amazing

That songs cannot repay;

For we can only wonder

At every gift you send,

At blessings without number

And mercies without end;

We lift our hearts before you

And wait upon your word,

We honor and adore you,

Our great and mighty Lord."

Friday evening, Mark and I went to the archbishop's dinner at the seminary here in Cincinnati. We donate to the seminary every year and so we are invited to this dinner. It begins with Mass at 5:30. This was the first verse of the closing hymn.

After Mass, they have a social hour where everyone stands around, having a glass of wine and eating appetizers. Mark and I don't actually know many people at this, but every year we meet someone new. We were standing alone talking for a few minutes when a man in his early 40's came up to us and introduced himself as one of the seminarians from the diocese of Toledo, Ohio. We started talking and he told us about his life in the Coast Guard for twenty years before deciding to enter the seminary. He then proceeded to tell us that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, stage 4, last fall. I had thought earlier that he didn't look very healthy....I ended up telling him about my diagnosis. We talked about how he had managed to get through the school year undergoing treatment.

"The flower of earthly splendor in time must surely die,

It's fragile bloom surrender to you, the Lord most high;

But hidden from all nature the eternal seed is sown

Though small in mortal stature, to heaven's garden grown;

For Christ the man from heaven and death has set us free,

And we through him are given the final victory."

I didn't tell him about my brother, David, dying from pancreatic cancer three years ago...I'm sure he is already well aware of his odds. I was in awe at the peace in him. A few minutes later, a couple from our parish, who have a son who is a priest, came up to us and interrupted our conversation but we promised to pray for one another.

Shortly before 7:30, they called us in for dinner. Table seating is assigned and we ended up being at a table with that seminarian, two other seminarians, a retired priest, and a deacon and his wife. I was seated next to a seminarian named Andrew, who went to the Josephinum with Will and Johnny, and we struck up a conversation. He told me how amazing the seminarian with cancer has been all year; how he has persevered despite difficult treatments and illness. What a blessing it was to me to hear this...

"Then hear, O gracious Savior,

Accept the love we bring,

That we who know your favor

May serve you as our King;

And whether our tomorrows,

Be filled with good or ill,

We'll triumph through our sorrows

And rise to bless you still;

To marvel at your beauty

And glory in your ways,

And make a joyful duty

Our sacrifice of praise."

All night long, every time I awakened, this hymn was running through my mind. It is on my lips this morning; especially this last verse. I wish I could say that my fears are completely gone, however I am comforted in knowing that He is with me through it all.

I am thankful indeed for that, and for all of the prayers of my dear friends, near and far.

A blessed, peaceful day to all.....heart

Friday, May 13, 2011

This Roller Coaster Ride Called Cancer Day 12

I found out yesterday that my surgery will be Monday afternoon at 2:30. Today, a nurse from the hospital called to tell me that I need to be there by noon because I'm scheduled for a needle localization at 1 before the surgery. News to me. It turns out that I have to have dye injected into the area before the surgery and the idea doesn't sound too appealing, especially since I will be awake.

I have to admit I've been on a roller coaster of emotions. Most days I have done very well, being upbeat and cheerful. Today I was fine until the nurse called me and it all struck me again. I ended up crying while I took my shower...a good place to do it because then the boys don't see. I've tried very hard to keep my spirits up in front of them so that I don't scare them.

All along, some of the mornings have been the hardest and I've always felt better after I go to noon Mass. The Eucharist is such a gift! Today, however, I didn't go to noon Mass because Mark and I have been invited to the Archbishop's dinner at the seminary and they are having Mass before dinner. At this point, I don't really feel like going to the dinner but I know I will feel better once I get out of the house and think about something else. I also know that the Mass there will be always is. =)

I think I'll go take a nap and then finish up all the prep work for the boys' schoolwork for next week. I want to have everything ready before Monday so that we can get through the school week easily. I have no idea how I will feel after surgery. I've checked some forums and some women have little discomfort after surgery and some are miserable for weeks...time will tell! I just keep praying and know that our dear Lord and His Blessed Mother will see me through.

A blessed, peaceful Friday to all....heart

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Waiting, Waiting, and More Waiting....Day 10

Now that the MRI is over, I'm waiting for the surgeon's scheduler to call me to tell me when my surgery is going to be. I think the woman may be into torture....hehe....I definitely think the dear Lord is trying to teach me more patience and is reminding me that I'm not in control of my life.

The MRI was interesting. When they called me back into the room where the scanner was, all dressed up in my hospital gown, the young lady tech asked me if they had explained the procedure I was about to undergo. I answered that they hadn't. She then proceeded to tell me that I was about to endure an hour of torture. The exact word she used was "torture". She said it with a very serious face.

She wasn't kidding.

I won't go into all the details but I had hoped that I could say my rosary while I was in there. That didn't happen. All I could manage was a few "Hail Mary's" and little prayers to our dear Lord, the Blessed Mother, and my guardian angel to keep me from moving and yelling out, "GET ME OUT OF HERE!" I have a bit of claustrophobia and laying in there, face-down, with an IV in my arm, my arms above my head, constant pressure on my breastbone, all of which was very uncomfortable, and not being allowed to move one tiny bit for an hour was difficult. Every time I started to feel a moment of panic, I thought of our dear Lord hanging on the Cross, and offered it up to Him.

I lost all track of time. I was so grateful when she called in to me and told me that there were 3 more three minute intervals to go....the end was near.

I was so happy and relieved to get out of there, that I practically ran out to Beth who was in the waiting room. We went outside into a beautiful spring day and I felt like someone had given my life back to me. =) We went out for a very nice mother-daughter lunch and I could laugh at my panicky moments and be so thankful that I had only to endure one hour of torture where our dear Lord endured more than three of much, much worse.

God is good indeed, always.....

A blessed day to all....heart

Monday, May 9, 2011

MRI today

I have my MRI today at noon...I'm praying that I can lay still for that hour...I'm such a fidgety person. One of my friends told me..."Remember when your kids were little and you prayed that you could lay down for an hour? Well, God is answering your prayer." Hehehe....
Smiling about that and praying will get me through...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Day 5

I finally was able to schedule my MRI for Monday afternoon. I won't know until after that when my surgery is. I just want it to be over with.

It's so strange to know that I have this disease inside of me that could end my life and yet I feel perfectly healthy.

I wake up in the morning and it hits me all over again. I did have a pretty good day today. Denise and I went out to Indiana and picked up the beef we had ordered from a farmer. We had lunch together. Mark and I went out for dinner alone since John was at a friend's house and Michael was at work. Then we went and spent some time with our dear Lord at Adoration.

A normal day except for making an appointment and receiving paperwork that I have to fill out from the oncologist before I go to my first appointment on May 19th. I cringed when I opened the mailbox and there was this big envelope with my name and Oncologist Care Inc. as the return address.

But God has a purpose in everything that He permits to happen in our lives. I'm praying that I can still keep that thought close to my heart when the time for more physical suffering comes. But for now, the suffering is mostly emotional; the biopsy was the only actual physical pain. I want to keep in mind that this is His gift...drawing me closer.

A blessed, peaceful weekend to all...heart

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Living with Cancer Day 4

The sun is shining; the sky is a brilliant blue today. It's been so dreary that it is definitely good to see a beautiful day; it lifts my spirits.

I had forgot to mention what else had happened the day before my biopsy. Several weeks ago, Michael got a new job working in the kitchen of a nursing home. He had to have a physical beforehand which involved lots of the typical tests. When he went back for the final results, the doctor told him that he had protein in his urine and should go to his regular doctor. I looked it up online and I wasn't too concerned because he didn't have any other problem symptoms such as high blood pressure or sugar in his urine to go with it. I told him he should make an appointment but being 18, he pushed it off and it was at the same time my problems started and I'm sorry to say that it went to the back of my mind.

The afternoon before my biopsy, Michael went to his friend's house to help his family. His friend's dad had had hip replacement surgery and was coming home. Around 5 o'clock, Michael calls me and asks me if Beth is at work. I told him yes and asked him what he wanted Beth for. He just said nevermind and hung up. Argh!!! Ten minutes later, Beth calls me and says that Michael had texted her. It seems that when his friend's dad had come home, they had rented a blood pressure machine to use at home and they were all trying it out. It kept saying that Michael's blood pressure was 150/98 or so. He hadn't want to tell me and upset me but he called his sister the nurse and talked to her. Beth, of course, called me afraid that Michael wouldn't tell me. I immediately called him and told him to go to Kroger's or Walgreen's or some such place and check his blood pressure there. While he was doing that, I made the mistake of googling "high blood pressure and protein in urine" on the internet. A lot of scary stuff comes up when you do that! Michael called me and said that his blood pressure was 135/95 on Kroger's machine. I immediately called the doctor and talked to one of the nurses who talked to the doctor. They asked if he had a headache and when I told them no, they said to bring him in the morning at 8:30.

I hardly slept all night. I was more worried about Michael than myself after seeing all the possibilities of kidney disease that high blood pressure and protein in the urine can be symptoms of. I was so afraid that disaster was going to hit us twice and I knew that I would rather have something wrong with myself than with Michael. When we got to his doctor's office they tested his urine and blessedly, it was protein. But his blood pressure was still high so she told us to get his cholesterol levels tested and take him to a cardiologist. I was thankful that it's probably something we can deal with. His test results came back yesterday and the doctor called and told me that they were all in the good normal range and that it would probably help if he could lose a few more pounds and exercise more. His appointment with the cardiologist is on May 23rd and meanwhile, he and two of his friends joined a gym and they've been going every morning together and work out. I'm hopeful that this will all help.

I started writing this in the morning; it is now evening. I didn't have the best afternoon. I was supposed to have my MRI scan done today or tomorrow but the insurance company didn't approve it until this morning and the MRI office hasn't called yet to schedule so I know it probably won't get done until next week and my surgery will be put off longer. When the surgeon's scheduler called me, I asked her about scheduling my surgery and she said that we wouldn't do that until after the scan when we knew what we were dealing with. Her words froze my heart and for a few hours, I was scared again. But the dear Lord is good....I told a few people who I knew would pray for me and I spent a little time at church with our Lord and when Mark came home, I began to cheer up again.

I am off now to my usual hour of Adoration on Thursday...always a blessed, peaceful time. I am hopeful that I will feel once again His joy in knowing that He is calling me to the privilege of suffering with Him.

A peaceful night to you all....thank you again for your prayers...they are such a blessing to me.heart

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Living with Cancer Day 3

I've debated to myself about writing about my experiences these last three weeks...would it seem like whining? Would it help someone else who's going through it too? I'm hopeful that it will be of help to someone else someday who googles those words.

I woke up this morning and it hit me again....I have cancer. For almost three weeks, I woke up with the thought that I might have it and in my heart I knew I did those weeks of waiting.But now I know for sure.

Lent began wonderfully. I was inspired to do a better fast than I ever have; my prayerlife was flowing; I started doing my reconsecration to our dear Blessed Mother and it was having so much more meaning to me than ever. The consolations were flowing. Life was very good. Around week 3 of Lent, I started realizing that our dear Lord was getting me ready for something, but I didn't know what.

The first week in April, I scheduled my yearly mammogram and had it done on Friday, April 8th. I walked out of there not even thinking that there would be a problem but that it was just one of those things checked off on my list of things to do. My mom's 87th birthday was that weekend and I spent the next two days getting ready for her birthday party that I was hosting at our house. I was busy and the mammogram went to the back of mind. On Tuesday morning, I had a dental appointment. I had a tooth that needed a crown and I was dreading the procedure. My new dentist is a very nice man but slow. It took two hours of dental torture before he was finished.

When I got home, a message was on the answering machine. I needed to call the hospital where I had the mammogram done. And that's when it hit me; in my heart I knew.

I called and the woman told me quickly that I needed to have a diagnostic mammogram done on my left side and that scheduling would call me. Several hours later, a pleasant young man who seemed all flustered called me. I unfortunately would have to wait a week for it to be done. The waiting began...

The boys knew; they had heard the message on the machine. I called Mark and Beth. I told two of my brothers that I saw in the week ahead and I told a few close friends that I knew would pray for me.

My prayer life continued to go well but part of me knew what was coming. This would be something I could offer up.

I woke up with nervous anticipation on that Tuesday morning, April 19th. I went and had the same tech that I had done my first one. We talked of the terrible storm that we had had the night before. I sat in a waiting room, clutching my hospital gown around me while she went to show it to the radiologist. I sat and prayed for the strength to bear the words I knew were coming. She came back in and said that the radiologist wanted me to have an ultrasound. I sat and waited for ten minutes more until the ultrasound technician came.The radiologist came in and told me that it wasn't clear on the X-rays and that ultrasound would help them know if it was a cyst or solid.

She was a sweet young lady, young enough to be my daughter. I laid down on the table watching the screen while she searched for it and quickly it appeared. As soon as I saw it, I knew it wasn't a cyst. She told me it was small, less than a centimeter. It looked huge on that screen....

The radiologist came in, took one look, and said "It's definitely not a cyst. I don't know what it is."

I did.

It must have shown on my face. The technician grew quiet. The radiologist started explaining about having a biopsy done in a matter of fact way. I needed to see a surgeon first. My gp would call me and recommend someone. I quietly went back to the dressing room, quickly changed my clothes and walked out into the rainy day to my car, praying constantly. I sat in the car, called Mark and burst into tears. I calmed down...poor Mark...he has endured the times of my tears.

I called Beth; I called my friend Denise. I knew that she would call a few friends and start the prayers. Everyone kept telling me stories of how they had had a biopsy but it was benign. 80 percent of biopsies come back benign.....but someone has to be in those 20% that don't and I knew I would be one of them.

I had to wait another week to see the surgeon. Finally, last Thursday, April 28th, I had the biopsy. Not as painfree as I had been told to expect, but I got through it, praying constantly. I was laying on the table with the radiologist to my left, the ultrasound screen and tech to my right. There were only three places my eyes could go....up to the ceiling, on the doctor and the actual procedure or on the ultrasound screen. I alternated between the screen, the ceiling, and closing my eyes.....

I will write more later....a blessed day to all...

Jesus, I trust in You. heart