Monthly Archives: February 2012

Thankful

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There are so many things in my life right now that I am thankful for so I decided that is what I would talk about in this post! First, and foremost, I am thankful for my relationship with God. He has blessed me with so much and given me a reason to be thankful for so many other things in my life. He keeps on providing for me and never disappoints me. I believe that He did not give me cancer but that He has a purpose for me going through this at this point in my life and He is going to use it to bring Him glory. 1 Corinthians 2:8-9 states “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” Although I do not clearly know his plans for me at this point, I am going to trust in Him, love Him and praise Him every step of the way.

I am also thankful for my family. I seriously don’t know what I would do without them right now. I am so lucky to have such wonderful parents, a loving sister, and a selfless Nanny. As I stated in a previous post, my Nanny has done so much for me and I am so lucky to have her here. My parents have been amazing as well! They have waited on me hand and foot when I don’t have the energy to move, gotten up with me in the middle of the night, and would literally take my place in all of this if they could. My sister has been so sweet as well. She was supposed to go on a spring break trip with all of her pledge sisters in a few weeks but decided she should stay home and take care of her sister instead. How awesome is that? My extended family has been wonderful as well. Someone from my extended family calls every day to check on me and I have gotten so many texts, emails, cards, etc. as well. Also, almost all of them has been to visit me already and I always love seeing them! I love all of them so much and I am so lucky to have such an amazing support system.

I am thankful for my boyfriend and his awesome family. As I stated in my last post, Will had been sick most of last week and that means we couldn’t see each other at all because my immune system is not so good. However, he started feeling better yesterday and stayed up late last night cleaning his whole house so I could come over tonight and hang out and not get sick. He also has been at almost every doctor’s appointment and has sacrificed many extracurricular activities to be with me. His parents are also really great! Will’s mom, Jennie, stayed with me the day after my first chemo treatment and has offered to take off work whenever I need her to be with me. She is also always bringing me magazines and trying to plan fun things for me to do. Did I mention that Will’s sister, Ashley, has organized meals for my family every Wednesday that I have chemo up through my last treatment? She is awesome! She has also brought us meals herself and got me hooked up with this Beth Moore bible study as well. I previously mentioned in a post about Will’s sister-in-law, Jodi, setting me up with a pamper day which was great and very much appreciated! Last, but not least, Will’s family in Texas has been very intentional about calling, texting, and sending cards to check up on me. They are all very sweet and I am thankful for each one of them!

I am thankful for such sweet neighbors. Our neighbors next door to us are like family! Ever since we moved in, we have had a connection with the Varnell’s. We get together with them for birthdays, Christmas, and other random occasions. They are such a blessing in my life. They also have very sweet daughters who, although no longer live here, have been so sweet to me as well. Lindsey and I got very close this summer when she was living at home while her husband was overseas and she checks in on me all the time. While I don’t get to see Ashley as often, she has been so sweet about messaging me often as well and she has such a big heart. There are other families in our neighborhood who have brought desserts, cards, flowers, etc. and I am so thankful for their friendship and concern as well.

I am thankful for all my amazing friends! I can’t even begin to tell you how overwhelmed I have been from the outpouring of love I have gotten from my friends during all of this. I have gotten texts, calls, Facebook messages, emails, gifts, been put on so many different prayer lists, etc. I have also had so many friends come and visit me and I love the time we have gotten to spend together. I want each and every one of you to know how thankful I am for each of you. It sure makes the path that I’m on easier to go down when I have people who care about me helping me along the way.

I am thankful for my parent’s co-workers. It was so awesome to come home the day of my diagnosis and have the entry way filled with tons of balloons, flowers on the kitchen table, and dinner in the fridge. All of this was from my dad’s wonderful co-workers. That is not all they have done. They have brought other meals, sent cards, sent flowers, etc. They are so amazing! My mother’s co-workers are just as equally wonderful. They have brought meals, desserts, cards, gifts, flowers, etc. My parents are so fortunate to have such great people in their lives on a daily basis. Their love and concern means so much to me!

Lastly, but definitely not least, I am thankful for those of you who have expressed Christ’s love to me. There have been so many people who have written on my blog multiple times, sent me cards, called, texted, etc. and you have no idea how much that means to me. I want each of you to know that I am so thankful for you and because of you I want to be intentional about showing others how much I care for them as well. Thanks so much for the continued prayers and thoughts.

I have felt pretty good this past week and I am so thankful for that as well. My dad mentioned Friday that he has a meeting in Marco Island, Florida in August that my family may attend to celebrate winning my fight against Lymphoma. I am so thankful to have something like that to look forward to. My mom mentioned this weekend to her sister that she has often wished that we could fast forward to August and be done with all of this. However, she stated that we might miss the blessings in between. How right she was because there have already been so many. My mom’s family was down this weekend to see me and we had a great time! I am thankful for good weekends when I get to take my mind off what I am going through and laugh!

I return to Mercy Hospital on Wednesday to have my third chemo treatment and see the doctor. While I am really anxious about this, I am also looking forward to being able to say “only 9 more to go!” I have heard that the treatments should get easier each time and I hope that is true. I ask for your continued prayers that God will give me strength and energy to persevere. I also pray that this treatment doesn’t cause more hair to fall out (eyebrows and eyelashes) šŸ˜¦ Thankfully, if it does they have replacements for those as well! šŸ™‚ I am truly so blessed and owe all of it to the great Lord above!

Do Not Worry

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So as many of you are aware, I shaved my head on Tuesday. I have had several people ask if I am okay with this decision and as I have shared with each of them, it was easier to shave it then it was to watch it all fall out. It started falling out last Friday and I waited as long as I could thinking maybe it would just thin out and be done. When I took a shower on Tuesday, I had to make myself get out because I literally could have stayed in there all day and pulled every strand out of my head. It just kept coming šŸ˜¦ That was when I made the decision to just shave it already.

So Tuesday night I tried on all four of my wigs and decided which one I liked best. I had a fashion show via Skype with my aunt and uncle and they ranked each of them as well! I haven’t actually worn any of them yet but I have been trying out all of my bandanas that my friend Mallorie sent me. It’s fun trying to coordinate them to match my sweats outfits and they are really comfortable too!

Since my blood counts were low last week, I have been staying home and not going anywhere where there are lots of people. This has started to make me very stir crazy! I mean there is only so much you can do within the boundaries of your own home. I have done my bible study, watched home videos, watched movies, pinned on Pinterest, been on Facebook, written thank-you notes, worked on a puzzle, done a word search, ate snacks, and taken naps occasionally. Needless to say, I am getting BORED!

I called my nurse today to see if there was more that I could be doing without getting an infection. She told me that basically I needed to avoid sick people, avoid hand contact with things that a lot of people touch, and wear a mask if my counts are low. So basically I can go to the movies, go out to eat, go to church, go shopping, etc. as long as I am careful and wash my hands often. However, I do have to avoid Will right now because he is currently sick and this is hard for me šŸ˜¦

All in all, this week has been pretty good. My stomach has hurt from time to time but fortunately that doesn’t seem to last the whole day. I have had several visitors so that has been fun! Tuesday night Will’s sister Ashley stopped by, Wednesday night my friends Emily and Brian Warwick came over, and then last night my roommate Caitlin, sorority sister Christa, and Will’s mom Jennie Ā came by to see me! It’s so fun to get to visit with people and laugh a little!

This weekend my mom’s twin and her family are coming to visit me! They will be here late this evening and stay until Sunday. I am not sure what we are going to do but I’m sure it will be a good time. It’s always nice to have other people around and keep my mind off things. I tend to worry a little too much when I am just sitting at home doing my everyday things.

Speaking of worrying, last night we watched our Beth Moore video for our bible study and it was all about giving your insecurities up to God. She was stating how we as humans have a desire to be full and therefore when we feel empty we often turn to other things (relationships, drugs, internet addictions, etc.) in order to achieve a sense of fullness. These worldly things fail us and leave us with the same feeling of emptiness. We are to turn our insecurities over to God and not worry about anything, for worrying is a lack of faith. Matthew 6:34 states “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” This is a downfall of mine, especially now, and therefore I am going to make it a daily goal to turn all my worries and insecurities over to Him.

I am thinking about starting an online bible study via Skype. It would be for any woman who wants to join, wherever you are. Skype now offers a group chat for up to 10 people for only $5 a month. However, we could have more than 10 people if people would group together at one person’s house in each town. So far we have talked about doing a Beth Moore study where each individual would watch the video on their own time and then we could meet every two weeks to discuss what we watched. If you have participated in Beth Moore studies before, you know that they are pretty intense. However, you wouldn’t have to do the weekly homework in order to participate. The video would just be our discussion point. Let me know what you think and if you would be willing to participate.

Once again, I thank you all for your overwhelming kindness. I truly believe that God is using each of you to show me His love and grace during this time. It was no coincidence that on Tuesday when I shaved my head, I also received 4 packages in the mail. I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family. I ask that you continue to pray as I am approaching another chemotherapy appointment next week, that I will continue to gain strength and that the drugs will kill the cancer cells but not make me really sick.

Tribute to my Nanny

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I mentioned awhile back that my Nanny came to stay with me. Well lucky for me, she is still here and hasn’t gotten tired of taking care of me yet! She has done so much for me these past 3 weeks that I wanted to do a post dedicated to her. Don’t be getting jealous now…she’s not up for hire!

As I previously stated, my Nanny began taking care of me the minute my mother went back to work after her maternity leave was up. She then watched me everyday until I was old enough to ride the bus home from school and stay by myself. She even lived in a duplex that was in our neighborhood for a while when I was growing up. My parents would let me walk down to her house in the evenings and spend the night often. With all that being said, we spent a LOT of time together!

As the years have passed and we moved to Stillwater, it has been hard being away from my Nanny. However, I would call her every few days to catch up and even visited her as much as possible. Last year over Christmas break, I drove to Trenton by myself to spend a week with her. We are always able to pick up right where we left off. I have so many good memories of my childhood that include her.

Who would have ever thought that I would need a caretaker later in life? It’s funny how life almost goes in a circle and you are right back where you were when you were a child. My Nanny offered to come to Stillwater and take care of me the day I was diagnosed and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. She came down the weekend after my first treatment and has been here ever since. I keep telling her that I am not going to let her go back home. She has been a Godsend!

You name it, she does it! She has fixed me every meal, given me my medications, washed Ā and dried my hair (when I still had it), shaved my head, gotten me clothes to wear, watched movies with me, taken walks with me, cleaned the house, taken the dog out, cleaned out the refrigerator and cabinets, gone to Wal Mart for me, prayed with me, and been my shoulder to cry on. She is there for my good days and my bad and doesn’t judge me for it either way. She is seriously my best friend and I don’t know what I would do without her!

She doesn’t do any of this for anything in return. She is the most generous woman I know. I will never be able to repay her for all she has done for me but I can only hope that she knows how much she is appreciated. I love her dearly and thank God for her every day! I am so grateful for the memories I made during my childhood with her but even more grateful for the ones I am making with her now. I will never forget the sacrifice she made for me.

Putting things into perspective

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Ever since I was diagnosed, I have learned about so many people going through similar struggles. Although it breaks my heart for them to have to endure something like this, I am also so thankful for the advice and encouragement so many have provided to me. I only pray that I can give that same hope and encouragement to others.

Just this past weekend, a sorority sister of mine (Mallorie Dye) sent me another package in the mail. It included 2 wigs, wig care products, several bandanas, and 2 beautiful scarves. Mallorie won her fight against Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma this past November and has been so helpful to me through all of this. She was truly an inspiration to me from the beginning because I had read her blog throughout her entire battle. She had given me encouragement without even knowing. Now, I can call her anytime with any sort of question and she always gives me the information I need. I am so thankful for people like her.

Last Friday I began losing my hair. I thought I was prepared for this but I guess you can never truly be prepared for something so dramatic. I met a girl just a few years older than me last week at chemo. She was undergoing her third round of treatment for breast cancer and had a beautiful scarf on her head. I asked her when she lost her hair and she told me that it was right after her second round of treatment. She told me what to expect and so I knew it was coming soon. However, it was a rough couple of days. I still haven’t shaved my head yet, but I am sure I will sometime this week.

I have definitely had days where I feel like the only person in the world going through something so tragic. It’s times like these where I try to put things into perspective and count my blessings. I may lose my hair, but it will grow back. I may have to stay confined in my house to avoid getting an infection, but I have a wonderful family that is willing to care for me every step of the way. And even when I’m all alone, I know that God is holding my hand every step of the way.

I have been doing the weekly studies for my Beth Moore bible study and one of the verses this week was Galations 2:20 which states “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This spoke to me because although my body is going through so many things right now, Christ is still living through me and if I have faith in Him, I can endure.

Thanks again for all the prayers! Our God is a wonderful and gracious God. This round has been easier than the last and I can only pray that they continue to get easier. For all of you that are going through struggles of your own, know that I am praying for you as well and you are not alone.

Only 10 Left to Go

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So Valentines Day was really fun! Will and I went to Curly’s (this burger and fries place) for lunch and it was really good! I then got my haircut that afternoon by Will’s sister-in-law, Jodi’s, beautician named Janet Smith. She’s awesome! We were going to do a cut just above my shoulders but then decided to donate it and I had to have 8 inches in order to do that! I thought “why not?” I am going to lose all of it soon anyway so why not donate it to someone who can use it! So now I have a cute bob that I am getting used to! It’s as short as I have ever had it but I think it’s growing on me! You can see pics in my photo gallery. Jan also painted my fingernails, toenails, and gave me a foot massage. Did I mention she’s awesome? šŸ™‚

That evening we had some delicious chicken and noodles that Terry Wagner (a lady who works with my dad) made! They were really good!! I got a dress, sweater, and coffee mug plus some really nice cards from mom, dad, and sister! Will and I then finished off the day watching “Wedding Crashers!” That has always been one of my favorite movies. Oh, and I didn’t mention that he got me a cute shirt and some hand lotion for V-day too…he’s the best! I am a lucky girl to be blessed with such wonderful family and an awesome boyfriend too!

Yesterday was a day that I have been dreading for the past two weeks. I had my second round of chemotherapy. šŸ˜¦ Nanny, Mom, and Dad took me and my roommate Caitlin dropped by during the end of my treatment. I had blood drawn first, then saw the PA, and then headed up to the 4th floor for chemo. However, we had a bit of a hold-up in the doctor’s office because my neutrophil count was only 100 when the normal range is 1000-1500.Basically, this means that I am very susceptible to infectious diseases. There is a shot you can get called Neulasta which increases your white blood cell count before chemotherapy. However, my white blood cell count wasn’t too concerning and there have been studies done that show the Neulasta shot can cause a 20% chance of getting pneumonitis (lung damage) later on. The study showed that progessing on with chemo and not giving the Neulasta shot regardless of the person’s blood count only gave the person a 3% chance of getting pneumonitis. Therefore, my doctor is very aggressive and wants to continue on with treatment and without a Neulasta shot for the time being. I am just going to have to live in a bubble for awhile.

Last night was pretty rough. I took some nausea medication on the way home from the hospital but still felt a little nauseous last night. I ate another awesome meal which was provided by a family friend and then could hardly wait to take my nausea medication and go to bed. I was in bed by 8:30 which is unheard of for me but I decided I would rather be alseep than uncomfortable all night.

I woke up this morning not feeling too bad. I ate some breakfast and then decided to sit and write some thank-you notes. I don’t mean to toot my own horn but I got about 12 thank-you notes written today. I also watched “The Blind Side” with Nanny, took a shower for the first time in 2 weeks, and fixed my hair. Don’t worry, I have been washing my hair in the sink and bathing daily but it just felt so good to be able to shower on my own, even if it did take every ounce of energy I had.

Although I felt alright today, I am not going to get my hopes up too much. This is about how I felt last time on the day after chemo. It usually hits me pretty hard the third and fourth day. I am going to keep praying that it stays like this though. I ask that you pray for my strength and energy as well. I believe so strongly in the power of prayer. I am one lucky girl to have so many people out there praying for me also!

When I woke up today and read my “Jesus Calling” book, the first few lines read “Thank Me for the conditions that are requiring you to be still. Do not spoil these quiet hours by wishing them away, waiting impatiently to be active again. Some of the greatest works in My kingdom have been done from sick beds and prison cells.” So often do I wish away the hours when I don’t feel good, while God is longing for me to spend that time with Him. I have tried to make it a goal to spend more time with Him daily. He really does desire this from each one of us. Who knew that he would use something such as this to draw me closer to Him? I still believe that He has big plans for my life. The countdown is on…only 10 more chemotherapy sessions to go!

Cancer is like a Rollercoaster

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I know it has been awhile since I have writtenĀ a postĀ so I apologize. A lot has went on since the last time I wrote so this may be a long one. Wednesday night and Thursday I had really bad stomach pains. I had taken medicine and nothing seemed to work so by Thursday evening we called Dr. Evans, my family doctor, and went to meet him at the hospital. He listened to my stomach with his stethoscope and pushed around a bit. After doing this he explained to us that he wanted to draw blood to see if I might have pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). He said that when you are taking a lot of medications at once there is a chance that it could harm your pancreas. We did the blood tests, he told me to go home and take a pain pill and go to bed, and then I was to call him the next morning.

I took the pain pill which helped me relax and go to sleep and then woke up at 5:30 the next morning. I thought I was hungry so I ate some toastĀ but that didn’t seem to make my stomach feel any better. I called Dr. Evans around 7a.m. and he reported that my blood tests came back normal. When I explained to him that my stomach was still bothering me some, he said that I may have an ulcer.Ā He told me to take a specific medication once every 12 hours andĀ let him know if it didn’t start to get better. Well thankfully it continued to get a little better over the course of the next few days because I had a big weekend planned with my cousins coming. However, I just want to say that Dr. Evans is the best doctor around. He has been a godsend to us during all of this. I don’t know many doctors that would do all he has done for us but I am so thankful for him.

It seems like with cancer, if its not one thing bothering you, its another. No one ever tells you how it’s really going to be but it has definitley been like a rollercoaster ride. I may have one good day but it never seems to last. Most of the time it is followed with a bad day. Anyways, enough of the complaining!

My cousins arrived on Friday afternoon and we all sat at the kitchen table talking for a long time. We were so excited to see each other! I showed them my wigs and scarves and we reminisced about old times. We stayed around the house on Friday evening since I still wasn’tĀ feeling 100%Ā and Nanny fixed us a good meal. On Saturday morning, I felt a little fatigued and my cousins started in with the spoiling. Hollie washed my hair, Ivy dried my hair and put my make-up on, and Chasity was there to get me anything I needed. We went to see the movie “The Vow” that afternoon and then had a good meal at home Saturday evening. We played games, watched You Tube videos, talked, and did a lot of laughing that evening! Sunday morning we got up and went to church and then they left to head for home. I was sad to see them go but so thankful for the time we had together. I am so lucky to have such wonderful cousins. God truly blessed me!

Sunday was the first day since my chemotherapy that I have felt close to my normal self. I got up and got ready for church just like I always used to and we even stayed for Sunday School after church. I did some shopping that afternoon and then Will and I fixed dinner together. That evening we went and had ice cream with our really good friends Brian and Emily and watched the Grammy’s. All in all, it was a great day, and I didn’t get too tired.

Today has been a big day! It is my boyfriend Will’s birthday! Thankfully, I am feeling good again today and have been able to get a lot done. My friend Emily came out this afternoon and helped me bake Will a cake and decorate cards. That was a lot of fun! Tonight, we are going to dinner with Will’s family for his birthday and then having cake and ice cream. Although Will doesn’t really like to celebrate his birthday, I love being able to show him how much we appreciate him and spoil him just for the day!

I am excited for tomorrow because it is Valentines Day! Hopefully I will continue to feel better tomorrow because Will and IĀ have plansĀ to go to lunch since all the restaurants are usually busy on Valentines night and it’s best if I avoid large groups of people. I am also looking forward to tomorrowĀ because Will’s sister-in-law Jodi is bringing her hair dresser from Tulsa to my house to give me a cute short hair cut before my hair begins to fall out. Then tomorrow night I am hoping to just stay in with Will and watch a movie! I love Valentines Day!

I am so thankful that God has helped me feel better the last couple days so that I am able to do more. It is nice to feel like myself and be able to “forget” every once in awhile that I have cancer. The last couple of weeks have truly been a rollercoaster. I am really not looking forward to Wednesday because in my mind it means all of this yucky stuff will start all over again. However, I know that God is going to take care of me and provide for me. We are going to try to get all these medications figured out and hopefully I will feel better sooner this time around. I ask that you continue to pray, especially Wednesday, that the chemo will kill the cancer but not make me feel as awful as it did last time. I am so thankful for the relationship I have with God because I can truly feel that he is with me all the time. Happy Valentines Day to everyone tomorrow!

God Answers Prayers

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As many of you know, I am about 14 weeks short of being a physical therapy school graduate. When all of this started, I was still very determined to finish school and graduate in May. Well God obviously had other plans for me right now. With being pretty sick last week after my chemotherapy, there was just no way I could continue on with my clinical rotation every day.

When we saw Dr. Armor last week before my chemo, he had written a letter to Langston saying that if I was going to complete my clinicals this semester I had to be in an outpatient setting. Well the school curriculum says that you have to do one acute care rotation, one neuro rehab rotation, one outpatient rotation, and one rotation in a rural setting. As of right now, I have completed a neuro rehab, an outpatient, and a rural rotation. Therefore, all I have left is an acute care rotation and this could not be changed to outpatient.

After many discussions with the Dean of my school, we came to the conclusion that it would be best for her to give me an incomplete for the semester, let me walk with my class in May, and then continue my last clinical when this is all over (probably September). My goal is to still finish everything by the end of this year. I have looked forward to 2012 for so long due to accomplishing this goal of mine and I still want to make that happen.

Today has been my best day yet as far as feeling good goes. I slept in a little bit, didn’t take any medications, and didn’t even take a nap this afternoon. I can’t say that I feel 100% because I have come to the realization that that is probably not going to happen until these 6 months are over. However, when I feel good enough to do more than lay around all day, it is a good day! šŸ™‚

We went down to my apartment in OKC this afternoon and moved my stuff back home. This made me very sad because I had a wonderful roommate who is a dear sorority sister of mine. I felt so bad to leave her there because we had such a good time living together! It is also kind of hard to move back home for the second time at my age. However, I can’t complain because I have wonderful parents and I couldn’t do it without them right now.

Nanny has been keeping me busy here at home. She is very good at taking my vital signs every morning, afternoon, and evening. We also try to take a walk every day. She is making me eat something every two hours which sometimes is difficult when you don’t feel good. However, she has fixed the best meals for me! I love having her here and may not let her go home!

My cousins are coming this weekend and I am so excited! I am not sure what we are going to do but I am sure it will be a good time no matter what. We have been so close ever since we were little and when they found out about what was going on with me, they couldn’t wait to get down here. I love them all so much!

God is still good and deserves all the glory! I prayed this morning that I could just have one full day of feeling alright and He gave me just that. I already feel like I have grown closer to Him. My mom and I are doing a Beth Moore bible study that we started Monday night and I know He has big things in store for me. I can’t wait to share them with all of you! Keep on praying…He is listening!!