Monthly Archives: April 2010

Hanging with My “Bestie”

I’m back….sorry for the delay.  I’ve been hanging with my bestie, she and I have been doing whatever we want.  You know how it is when we girls get together, there’s no stopping us.  Well, maybe a little radiation.  We have had a sweet time together.  The past few weeks have been a great lesson in letting go of control, in so many ways.  It has been a great week.  We were able to sneak away long enough for her to meet John and spend some time with his family.  That was a sweet treat for this girl.  Although, a short visit we took what we could get, there’s never enough time.  For this season, treatments definitely dictate our time but God has more than provided.  We were back in time for a treatment on Monday.   We have made our daily trip for a zap zap.  I continue to pray with each treatment that God heals and I stand in His victory.  Those who are here and seeing me say that I am handling it remarkably well, I must take their word for it.  I continue to press through and trust God for strength and stamina.  I will admit there have been a couple “lazy” days this week but the doc warned me and said “just go with it”.  So, a nap is never turned downed if needed.  I will admit yesterday was the worst I have felt and even in that I was up but lazy around the house, couch potato would best describe the day.  Probably, not my best day but no worries I bounced back today.  No keeping this girl down.  I was able to pull together a good afternoon after a treatment and pamper my sweet friend for a belated birthday, including lunch, Sprinkles (only the best cupcakes) and a trip for a mani and pedi.  It was a sweet time to be able to treat her for the afternoon.  She has taken such good care of me this week, grocery shopping, meals and chauffeur.

In all honesty, I really am doing the best that can be expected with radiation.  I have had minimal side effects.  My biggest one has been fatigue and a little fogginess in the head.  I’m thinking the fogginess may just be my head. 🙂  Just kidding, the doc warned my “smarts” would go down and I think that’s what he meant.  No worries, he says they will return after treatments are completed.   Good thing it’s only 14!  So as of today I’m 12 down and 2 to go.  I will have my last treatment on Monday.  After that, they will do another scan in a couple of weeks to see if there is any change from the first one after radiation.  There may or may not be and that doesn’t mean success or not.  Dr. Munoz, radiation doctor, says this is a journey not a quick fix.  So, we take it one day at a time.  Symptoms are our best indicator and mine responded immediately to steroid medication which is a good indication.  He has felt from the beginning that we were definitely on the proactive side when we started radiation.  God is so good and His timing is perfect.  For now, I look forward to being done on Monday, the fog lifting out of my head and my “smarts” returning to normal.

On a more personal note, have I mentioned this love of my life?  John!  I could not ask for more and each and every day the Lord continues to bless me.  I can’t imagine being loved more, cared for more and downright pursued more by a man in all my life.  He continues to amaze me and daily I ask if I deserve this.  We watch in amazement as God continues to write our love story and marvel at the thought that we get to be the characters.  We laugh often thinking about the day when we realize it isn’t perfect. Ha, just kidding we’re smart enough to know that already but for those of you who think we’re living in the clouds, we are but we definitely have a our feet planted on the ground in reality too.  I promise.  If anything we know for sure is that we’ve been given a gift in each other and we’ve also been chosen to walk a journey that isn’t perfect.  I say to all of you who love us both and know where we’ve come from and where God is taking us, we walk trusting with all our hearts in the Father, both individually and together.  Neither of us will ever compromise our personal relationship with our heavenly Father.  That is why I believe we’ve both been given such a great and unimaginable love for one another.  God is able to do immeasurably more than we ever dream and John and I get to be living proof.  Hold on, because we’re taking off on the ride of our life….

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”  —  Psalm 34:8

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  —  Psalm 119:105

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He’s Alive and Active

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry.”  — Psalm 34:15

Wow…what a day!  I knew that it would be a long day when we set out this morning, one with great excitement and anticipation.  On the agenda, radiation, doctor appointment, lunch and ‘Jenn’s Cocktail’.  Not bad for a Friday.  I was able to handle all very well.  My counts were good and I returned to chemo treatment which was a very happy moment for me today.  Little did I know what would change my day the most was waiting for me in the infusion lab and could only be orchestrated by the Lord.

I was greeted by my nurse and welcomed back with a great smile and joy.  It was a sweet reunion.  As we settled in it was business as usual and catching up on all that had happened and such sweet encouragement.  I got started with my cocktails and we progressed with our usual ritual, including a sweet ‘Benedryl’ induced rest!  As we completed our time, Crystal, my nurse continued a conversation that she had opened in the beginning.  She was open about her faith and she shared very openly with me about God’s healing and His almighty power.  She was a sweet presence of the Lord.  As we continued to share, she was glowing with the presence of the Lord.  We had the most amazing conversation about her walk and what God has done in her life over the past 2 years.  How he had delivered her from such a deep place of depression and sent warriors to walk with her, pray with her and love her when she couldn’t even reach out.  He is all powerful.  As she continued to pour out with such excitement of all God has done we couldn’t help but smile and rejoice with her and love her.  It was so amazing to have this sweet moment with a sister in Christ.  And when you think it couldn’t get better…..oh wait, it’s coming!!!!!

Yep, you guessed it….LOVE!!!!  In the midst of deliverence, God sends a mate to walk with her, pray with her and fall in love with her when she wasn’t even looking!  Right there, she shares their love story of how her love had come here from Africa and they were introduced by someone in Bible study.  As he got to know her, committed to pray for her and God began to reveal to him that she was the one he was to marry.  She shared how she wasn’t even thinking about a mate, she was falling in love with the Lord and hungry for deliverance and growing in her walk with the Lord.  As this man pursued her, she began to pray for a heart to love him if this was God’s plan and she said it was as if the next day she awoke with a love for him that she knew had only come from the Lord.  And as they say the rest is HIStory.  They were engaged and married within the year.  To listen and watch her speak of her husband there is such a joy and love that shines on her face that you know that God has orchestrated their story.

I marveled as I listened and watched this sweet woman pour into my heart.  She ministered to me more today than she may ever know.  There’s was such a sweet connection because I know, I know exactly what she’s talking about.  It is real and alive, the Holy Spirit lives in us and wants to give us that abundant life.  There will always be troubles in this world, we live in a fallen, broken world.  BUT we have a hope and a future in a loving, gracious Heavenly Father that wants to give us His best.  He is a Father who wants to give good to his children and I am blown away time and time again as I see His realness in people’s lives.  We can have it!  He wants to give it to us.  We get to receive it.  What’s holding you back?  It’s yours.  Will you trust Him?  Let go and let Him show you great and unimaginable things, He will.  I promise!

“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.  You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at you right hand.”  —  Psalm 16:9-11

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ALL Praise to The Father

April 20th, 2010 – 6 month anniversary of my diagnosis…I faced the day with my second greatest results to come.  Had the Brain Mets moved into my spinal cord and had the cancer spread to any other organs?  At 3:00 my parents, John and I set out for the long-awaited appointment with peace that God was going before us and that no matter what we were told we are prepared to fight the good fight.  With great love and support, I sat in the doctor’s office having a moment of peace.

The doctor walked in with a smile on his face and said ‘we have good news’, Praise God for simple words!  The spinal scan is clear and the PET scan is clear, RELIEF and smiles filled the room.  There’s a moment you have to absorb.  He continued with where we are today and what our next steps are.  It was a good visit for me to realign with him and make sure that we are all on the same fighting team.  We all left with a confidence that we are moving forward with the best course of treatment, we will be on this journey for a little longer than I had hoped but it is a journey, not a quick fix. I will continue with Whole Brain Radiation (9 treatments remaining) and I will return to chemo on Friday.  He feels this chemo is working and can penetrate the brain with the radiation.  We are confident that this combination is my best fight.  With some added chemo it will take me into June and we’ll re-evaluate in July.

I know this, God is using this beyond anything I can imagine.  I stand in awe that I am the one He has chosen to walk this out.  His grace and mercy in my life are more than I deserve and I feel inadequate many days to face it.  His love blows me away.  He has chosen to show us a miracle that can’t be explained and I get to sit in His presence and receive it, there’s not anything more that I could ask for.  I continue to trust Him in all things even when I can’t understand.  His love never fails.

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  —  Deuteronomy 31:6

“I am the Alpha and the Omega.” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty”  —  Revelation 1:8

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Focus on What You Have

Welcome to the weekend, so glad it’s here.  Saturday brings a special joy with it….a day of rest from treatment.  It’s always a pleasure to know you have a couple of days off.  Today’s post is actually reflections of what I wanted to write yesterday but ran out of time so hopefully I haven’t forgotten everything.

As many can imagine it has been an emotional, tiring and shocking week.  Just when you think you’re on a course there’s a turn that you didn’t see coming but always knew was a possibility.  We’ve known from the beginning that the cancer could spread, we knew that my brain was one the high risk places along with my liver, lungs and ovaries.  There’s just nothing to prepare you when you learn it’s your brain.   Suddenly the course of treatment and everything about cancer takes on a new meaning.  However, that’s only our perspective, God never changes, He’s the same today, yesterday and tomorrow.  He’s still almighty, powerful and the healer.

This week has been a week of the same treatment (radiation) to a new part of the body and although I thought I knew what to expect it wasn’t quite the same.  Radiation to the brain has a different immediate effect than to the chest, go figure.  I have done well to adjust and learn quickly how to pace myself and listen to my body.   As Thursday night approached I spoke with John with a slightly heavy heart and as he listened and poured out his support and love to me I was reminded once again of Christ love for me.  I could not ask for more than the love I feel from John and for a man of such strength to walk by my side.  He daily reminds me this is a season.  He loves ME well and the cancer is always secondary, I could not ask for more.

As I awoke to Friday I was ready to face the big day ahead, PET scan and Radiation…in the moment of getting ready God spoke directly to my heart “Focus on what you have not what you don’t have.”  WOW!  I knew exactly what He meant, endure the side effects, fight the good fight without any complaints.  He has given me a course of treatment, I have a fight.  Ok Lord, this is my calling for this season.  You see, what some didn’t realize is I was dreading the side effects already and beginning to feel overwhelmed.  I realized quickly that the battle of the enemy is on…he comes like a thief in the night to steal, kill and destroy.  Our God is bigger.  That morning made for a sweet time with the Father as I moved forward with time to praise Him and focus on Him throughout the tests that were coming my way.  With each moment that I lay in a scan or lay in radiation, I praise Him and beg for His healing.  I had one of the best days on Friday, God is so good.

After my test and treatment, my chauffeur, ie. Mom drove me to Fellowship Technologies to drop off some paperwork.  It was a sweet time with family.  I watched as friends interrupted their day and came to love on me, pray over me and cry with me.  It’s not every day that you get to experience that kind of love in the workplace.  God has blessed me beyond measure for such a time as this.

I could not ask for more: a man who loves me more than I could ever imagine, family that loves me and supports me in all things, friends that have sacrificially gone above and beyond for me and a place of employment that is more than just a place to work, it is family.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  —  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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The Days are Catching Up

Day one of Radiation done, 14 to go.  I’m doing well.  I’m tired tonight and feel like everything is catching up.  It’s been a whirlwind week.  Overall, we’re doing well.

Today, I had an opportunity to catch up with Dr. Munoz, the radiation doctor.  He confirmed that this is the best course for timeliness.  He indicated that a clinical trial (experimental drugs) could take me 4 weeks to get into.  Dr, Munoz explained that my symptoms are not currently “clinical” symptoms, meaning that my symptoms were caused by the swelling not the actual tumors.  The medication has reduced these symptoms and indicate that we are moving in the right direction.  This is a good thing.  This means that we can be proactive with treatment instead of being reactive with the tumors possibly progressing.  I feel confident in this course over the next 3-4 weeks at which time we will follow-up with another scan to measure any changes.

There is discussion for putting me back on a chemo drug but Dr. Kerr, the oncologist, wants a PET scan done this week before deciding which drug.  In addition, they will do a spinal cord scan to determine if additional radiation is needed down my spine to prevent cancer spreading into my nervous system.

Please pray these test are clear and God would protect my body from any additional cancer spreading.  I trust that the Lord is sovereign.  I will rest in His truth and His promise.  He gives life and gives abundantly.  I walk boldly in His truth.

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you”  — Isaiah 43:5

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Big Day

Thank you all for your prayers and messages.  I feel very loved by all.

It was a bit of a nerve-racking day that built up to great anticipation.  I was able to get a nap in before my appointment which was a definitely a blessing from the Lord.  In a time of angst to be able to step away and rest your mind and body is a big task.  I awoke from my nap to find John and my parents visiting.  That was a sweet moment.  Life is good.

We arrived at the appointment and were taken right in with not wait.  As we waited in the exam room, the feeling of angst was on the rise.  John sensing our anxious hearts began to pray over us.  It was a sweet moment to be reminded that we’re not in control.

The doctor arrived and made the round of introductions.  He then proceeded to visit and address the purpose of the day.  We talked through a couple of things, but mostly the options of clinical trials or radiation with another chemo drug.  There is not a clear-cut clinical trial that would be my best option.  We will start radiation tomorrow at 11:30 a.  I will go for 14-15 treatments everyday, Monday through Friday.  Dr. Kerr has ordered another PET scan to determine if there are any new developments and a spinal scan to determine if the mets have move into the spinal cord.  Please pray against both of those.  I’m praying for no new developments.

Tonight I rest in knowing that we move forward with treatment and that God is control.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation – so why should I be afraid?  The Lord protects me from danger – so why should I tremble?”  —  Psalm 27:1

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Radiation Route

Thank you all for your continued messages of encouragement and support.

Today was a big day with the Dr. Munoz, radiation doctor.  He gave us the nitty-gritty, there are multiple tumors on my brain.  There are some large ones in critical areas, specifically on my optical lobes.  These are most critical because they can cause the worst symptoms, blurred vision.  So Dr. Munoz is hopeful that we will have quick results.  The good news, I have responded quickly to the steroids they started on Friday, which means that most of my symptoms were most likely caused by the inflammation not the actual tumors.  All in all, we’re hopeful for good response to the radiation.  He did make it clear that this is a journey not a quick fix.  I continue to pray that God will use this radiation to perform a miracle like none other.  In the next day or so, I will also have to have a spinal cord scan to make sure that the “mets” (metastasized cancer) have not dropped down into my spinal cord.  Although I am at risk that this could happen, we are in a great place for treatment.  Not what I want to face but I rest in peace that I face treatment with confidence.

I feel confident with where we are today.  Tomorrow we meet with the oncologist.  Before my appointment, the radiation doctor and both oncologist will consult to make decisions for course of treatment.  Decisions that need to be determined are chemotherapy with radiation.  The brain has become the urgency but we cannot stop treating the cancer.  This is a very fine science as the toxicity of the chemo can be hard on me with the radiation.  So, tomorrow is big for determining what’s next.  I trust God will go before us and give wisdom to the doctors.  I rest in their determination to work together as a team to handle my case with the utmost care.

Overall, we left today with peace that we are on the right track.  God is giving us a path to walk and I walk boldly into it knowing that He is guiding me.  We celebrate the opportunity that John has to be with me tomorrow as we meet with Dr. Kerr to learn the next steps.

On a personal note, life is moving forward with John as we continue to watch God write our love story.  God has begun to lead us in a direction that we have both been feeling and we are excited to watch it all unfold.  We stand in awe of all the Lord is doing and showing us.  It’s time to welcome the newest member on our journey and I’m saving him a seat right next to me. 🙂

“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”  — Psalm 29:11

“I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”  —  Psalm 31:14

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