Author Archives: brittanyswank

The Real World


So I have now been back in “the real world” for almost a week now and it feels great! I love having a purpose every day and being able to interact with new people. I am currently working at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City on their trauma floor, so as you would probably assume, I have and will see a little bit of everything. It’s so interesting and luckily I have remembered how to do what I do and why I chose this field in the first place. I have also met some other really sweet students that make my days even better πŸ™‚ My instructor is awesome too so that makes it all pretty great.

Although I am not so excited about being away from my family and Will all week, I have really enjoyed spending time with my roommate and getting to hear about her exciting days in her surgery rotation as well. I have been trying to take advantage of my time away and use it to study! My boards are going to be here before I know it and now that I am back in the “real world,” they will be here even sooner. It’s amazing how much faster time goes by when you have something to do all day! πŸ™‚

This past weekend was really fun! I mentioned previously that Will, Ashlei, and I went to Missouri with Will’s family to spend some time at the lake. Although the weather was not ideal, we still were able to do quite a bit. We went shopping, went out on the pontoon to watch the kids tube, laid by the pool, played miniature golf, watched fireworks, and had a lot of really good meals! I was reminded of how much I love Osage Beach and hope that we are able to go back there more often in the future.

This was the first week I have gone without wearing a hat or anything else on my head. I think I was more nervous about that than my first day back at clinicals. I literally prayed my entire way to the city from Stillwater on Tuesday morning. Once again, God is so awesome. As soon as I walked in, I got two compliments from two different women about how cute my haircut was! Little did they know that I didn’t cut my hair this short πŸ™‚ I just smiled and thanked them. God used them that day to calm my nerves. Thanks again for all your prayers. I will keep you updated on how my doctor’s appointment goes next week. Hopefully it’s all good news from here on out! I will keep trusting Him and His plan no matter what! πŸ™‚




New Beginnings


Well not much exciting has happened since my last post! However, I added a ton of new photos so I figured I better write a post and alert you all of that πŸ™‚ My hair is growing quite a bit and you can see it from a few of the pictures I posted. I actually had to have my eyebrows waxed yesterday for the first time since before treatment because they were growing uncontrollably. Wish my eyelashes would grow as fast as my eyebrows! I also pumped my own gasoline for the first time since before treatments started (with latex gloves on of course to avoid germs)! I may have mentioned this before but I even started running a little bit here and there during my workouts each day.

This weekend, I am going with Will and his family to Tantara, Missouri to hang out by the lake and relax for the holiday weekend. It should be a good time! My family always went to Lake of the Ozarks every summer when I was growing up and this is only 20 miles from there. When we get back, my seven month vacation from real life will be over! I start my final clinical on Tuesday, September 4. I have been studying up each day to make sure I haven’t forgotten everything in the past 7 months. I pray that it goes smoothly, I have enough energy to make it through a work week, and that I don’t get sick being around sick people.

I had dinner with a sorority sister last night who was diagnosed with breast cancer about 6 months prior to my diagnosis. It was very good for the both of us to be able to compare stories and realize the similarities between the two treatments. I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with her and plan to do that more often. Although I have had wonderful family and friends who have been great about being empathetic during my treatment, no one can truly sympathize with you until you have been through the same thing.

I finished my final Beth Moore bible study this week and it was on “self-control.” It was kind of ironic that I waited until this week to watch the video because I had finished the weekly study before my final chemo. However, I know now that I was supposed to wait until this week to watch it. You see, now that I have more energy, I have been trying very hard to get my body back in shape and toned up. I have probably been close to obsessing about it when it comes down to it. I don’t have an eating disorder by any means, I love food! I have just been making it a priority that I walk at least 3 miles a day, do crunches, squats, and push-ups. This hasn’t become a problem. However, Beth discussed in this last lesson that we as humans have a scale that runs from neglect to obsession when it comes to our bodies and very few people find a happy medium on that scale. She then made a statement that I loved: “The most transforming and freeing way we can approach the care of our physical bodies is making fitness one way we worship God.” That is so true. I am going to strive to always keep my body healthy for Him but not become obsessed over it.

I know I have said this so many times but God has been so very good to me! I cannot even imagine what He has in store for this next chapter of my life. It will probably be obvious to everyone around me for a little while that I have had cancer. However, I am going to look at that as an opportunity to share my story with others. Who knows who I may come in contact with that needs to know just how great our God is! Acts 17:27 says “He has done this, so that they would look for God, somehow reach for Him, and find Him. In fact, He is never far from any one of us.” I know that God will be with me every step of the way as I start this new beginning! Thanks once again for your continued prayers. Please keep praying for my upcoming CT scan on September 10.

Family Vacation


Well we got back from our family vacation to Gulf Shores, Alabama last Thursday night and I just haven’t had time to write a post yet. However, I had a little bit of time this morning and decided to fill you in. Our vacation was awesome!! It was so nice to be on the beach again! We were there for four full days and we about did everything we could do while we were there. This includes eating fresh seafood for dinner and ice cream for dessert every night πŸ™‚

On Sunday, we decided to take it easy and relax most of the day since dad had driven us through the night on Saturday night to get us there earlier and we were all pretty tired. We laid by the pool, went to the beach, and then got ready and had seafood for dinner of course. On Monday, we went to the beach again that morning and it was so relaxing and peaceful out there. There was hardly anyone there and we sat with our beach chairs close enough to the water that the tide would come up and hit our feet. It was amazing! πŸ™‚ That afternoon, we rented jet skis and took them out in the cove behind our resort for about an hour! That was a lot of fun as well! I hadn’t been on one since I was a lot younger and it was fun to race my dad and hit the big waves! That evening, we had crab legs for dinner and then went to a place called “The Wharf.” Kelly Clarkson had just been there the previous weekend and they had lots of little boutiques and such there too! It was a neat place to look around.

On Tuesday, it was raining a little, so we decided to go shopping. There was an outlet mall about 15 minutes away from our resort and so we spent the majority of the day there. After shopping, we got ice cream and then went back to our condo to relax a little before dinner. That evening we had seafood for dinner again and then came back to our condo to play some dominoes! Wednesday was a very exciting day! We went parasailing at 400 feet in the air! It was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. I’m pretty sure the “Brittany before cancer” would have been too scared to do this but the “Brittany after cancer” has a different view on life and I’m so glad I did it! That afternoon we laid by the pool and then took a walk around our resort. That evening we met my mother’s aunt and uncle, who live in Alabama, for dinner. I have only seen them one other time in my life and so it was so good to see them again. We had a nice dinner at Harbor Grill which is a pretty good-sized boat harbor as well!

Thursday, we packed up and headed out at 6 a.m. Since this very well may be our last family vacation with just our immediate family, I am so glad we did all that we did and had such a good time! It was a great vacation and I would recommend Gulf Shores to anyone. Since vacation, I have been running errands and trying to get organized before my last clinical starts in two weeks. Will and I hung out with some friends this weekend and I didn’t realize that I hadn’t seen them in over a year. It’s crazy because that is probably true of a lot of my friends since I have kind of lived in a bubble for the past 6-7 months. Anyways, it was good to catch up!

Today, I am going to visit my neighbor’s daughter, Lindsey, and her little girl Natalie at their new home. I love spending time with them so I’m sure that whatever we do will be a good time! Then on Thursday, a couple of Will’s cousins, who are just a little bit younger than I am, are coming to visit. These are some things that I have wanted to do all summer and had to make sure they got planned before I move back to OKC. Speaking of moving, I do that this weekend! It’s kind of bittersweet because I am excited to move back to my apartment with Caitlin and get back in a normal routine but I’m also sad to leave my family and Will of course.

Thank you all again for your continued prayers. I ask that you please pray for my next CT scan which is on September 10. I have faith that it will be all clear just like the last one but I think I will forever be nervous for these things. God is good and I have been thanking Him over and over again for my energy! The last two days I have walked over 3 1/2 miles and even ran a little bit. Every step is improvement. Thanks again for your love and support. I hope to post pictures on here from our vacation before my move as well!

Busy and Loving It


Our internet got fixed yesterday and I was so happy that this meant I could finally write another blog. I have been so busy since I last wrote a post but I’m loving every second of being able to go! Last weekend, we had a wonderful time with my Uncle Jerry and Aunt Deidra who came to visit. We went to the zoo on Friday morning and the weather was nice so we were able to see a lot of the animals before it got too hot. Then, on Saturday, we celebrated my sister’s 19th birthday by going to the pool in the afternoon and then to PF Changs that evening! To top it all off, we had ice cream cake when we got home! It was a great time!

On Sunday, my Aunt Robin, Uncle Scott, and Chandler stopped in to stay the night on their way to Houston for Chandler’s national track meet. It was nice to get to see them again so soon. Chandler is quite the track star and actually placed 7th in their 4×800 meter relay at nationals! Monday was a sad day. Caroline moved out of my parents house and into her sorority house to start recruitment and get ready for the school year to begin in a few short weeks. It has been rather quiet without her around and I’m not sure I like it! However, I can’t complain too much because I know it won’t be long until I am moving out again also since I start my clinicals around the beginning of September.

Last week, I hung out with Will’s daughter Ashlei quite a bit since she is here for two full weeks with us! I am so glad that I am feeling well enough to hang out with her and enjoy our time with her while she is here. We have been going swimming, watching Olympics, playing games, playing with her cousins, and watching movies! She is a lot of fun to be around and has been my little workout partner as well. (When I say “workout,” I mean walking, doing crunches, and toning my arms and legs a little at a time).

I went to see my oncologist last Wednesday for my follow-up appointment and it couldn’t have went better! I was a little discouraged when I got there and couldn’t get blood drawn before my appt because they were so busy. This meant that I had to wait and have it down afterwards and they would call me with the results. I was really anxious to see if my counts were coming up! It seemed like every question I asked the doctor, he would tell me that it depended on my blood counts. Well, the patience paid off because my blood counts are all coming back up nicely and I was able to do all of the things that I asked him about doing. These things included eating raw fruits and veggies, shaving my legs with a regular razor, and going underwater in the swimming pool! Although these things seem rather small, they were BIG to me after not being able to do them the last six months! I had salad for a couple straight meals and strawberries tasted so good to me! I still haven’t went underwater in the pool yet but I’m sure I will on vacation next week!

This past weekend, Will, Ashlei, and I were supposed to go see Will’s oldest brother and his family who live in Texas. However, on Thursday night before we were to leave on Friday, his sister-in-law called to tell me that his 2-year old nephew was sick. 😦 Although my blood counts are coming back up, I still have to be very careful around sick people since my immune system still isn’t quite normal. We decided it would be best to postpone our trip to another time. We are praying that little Kenny gets to feeling better soon!

Since we were already planning on going out of town this past weekend, we decided to still do that. We took off Friday afternoon and headed to my hometown of Trenton, Missouri to see my family and my Nanny!! It was a spur of the moment trip but it couldn’t have been more fun! We got in late Friday night so we didn’t do a lot that day. On Saturday, my cousin Ivy and I took Ashlei swimming, that evening we met more family at a local Amish restaurant for dinner, we took Ashlei to the local carnival to ride a few rides, and then went out to my aunt and uncles to play some dominoes! On Sunday, we were planning on leaving after church but we decided to stay just one more day! I’m so glad we did because that afternoon and evening my dad’s whole family got together and had a barbecue and played games outside! The weather was amazing and we enjoyed every bit of our time there!

Even though I still don’t have all my energy back yet, I am thanking God each and every day for the energy I do have to be able to go and do things! My family is going to Gulf Shores, AL this weekend for a few days and I couldn’t be more excited to go to the beach! I haven’t been to the beach in the last 3 years since I have been busy with school so I can hardly wait! I’m sure we will have a great time! Who knows, with the rate my hair is growing, maybe I won’t even have to wear a hat anymore on vacation πŸ™‚

I continue to thank God daily for all He has done for me. I see Him working every day in the lives of others as well. As my favorite Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas said this past week, “To God be the glory, He deserves all the praise.” She is so right! God deserves all the praise for the good and bad things in our life. I give Him thanks for not only the good times He has given me but also for what He has put me through so that I may be a stronger person and more faithful follower. Thanks again for your continued prayers! I go back for my next CT scan on September 10. Please pray that the cancer is still gone!

Living Beyond Yourself


I apologize for waiting so long to write another post. Our internet has been down at my parent’s house for the past week and I haven’t been able to write. Thanks to Will’s parents for letting me use their internet tonight to write this post! A lot has happened since my last post and I wanted to keep you all updated.

I went to see my family doctor a couple of weeks ago and he answered a lot of the questions I have. One of them was if I could get off a couple of the medications he had put me on in the beginning and he said yes, which was great because that lessened the number of pills I have to take each day. Another question I had was if I should continue to take the antibiotics I have been taking for the past 6 months to help keep me from getting sick during my clinical rotation and he said yes that would be a great idea! I am now down to taking only 4-5 medications a day and that is awesome for me! I can’t wait until I can get back to taking none! My doctor also told me that I could start exercising a little each day and so I have started walking, doing crunches, and trying to tone my arms and legs.

My cousin, Taylor, came to see me last week for a few days and we had a lot of fun! Stillwater offers sales in town at most of the local businesses one weekend during the summer and she happened to be here at just the right time! We spent most of the day Thursday shopping and got a lot of really great deals! πŸ™‚ However, my mind tends to think that I can do a lot more than my body allows me to right now! Needless to say, I was worn out after a full day of shopping and we didn’t do a whole lot besides relax and watch the British Open on Friday.

On Saturday, my mom, sister, Taylor, and I headed to Kansas City for the day to meet my Aunt Robin, Courtney, and Chandler. We started with a tour of Courtney and Jeff Shore’s house which was very cute! Definitely made me consider living in a similar neighborhood in Kansas City someday. We then headed to Town Center to shop. The day ended with dinner at North where we met my Aunt Leslie! We had such a fun girl’s day out to celebrate our mother’s 50th birthday one last time!

Tuesday, my friend Emily and I decided to head to Tulsa for the day to have lunch and shop a little! (Promise I haven’t spent that much money with all my shopping endeavors recently) πŸ™‚ Along with getting lost a few times in Tulsa, we also met up with my “little” (Emily Orza) at the mall! It was such a fun day and once again I was worn out! I still have to remember that my body isn’t used to doing so much and that it is going to take awhile to get my energy back.

Aside from all these fun shopping trips I have been on lately, I have also read a book, worked on a scrapbook of the past 6 months, and finished my Beth Moore bible study. Oh, and talked to Nanny every day of course πŸ™‚ I stole the title of this blog post from my Beth Moore bible study which was called “Living Beyond Yourself.” I learned so much from that study about God, myself, and His plan for my life. I am already looking into another Beth Moore bible study to begin next. The last lesson talked about how we should have God on our mind all day! We should be praising Him for His greatness alone and seeking Him through His word and prayer. Isaiah 26:3 says “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.” He deserves so much praise for all He has done for me! I will be forever grateful!

I finished a great book yesterday that also pertained to “living beyond yourself.” It talked about how to achieve happiness, even when you have every reason to be miserable. It was written by Scott Hamilton, the Olympic Gold Medal Figure Skater who had cancer twice in his life. I highlighted a lot of the book so that I could share my favorite parts with you. He quoted actress Dorothy Bernard saying “Courage is fear that has said it’s prayers!” I loved this quote! That is so true. God gives us courage as soon as we ask for it! He also talked about the things that we think are a coincidence in our lives are actually “God-scheduled opportunities.” That is so true as well. I believe that God knew way before I was born that I was going to have cancer. He also knew that He was going to see me through it and make me a better person because of it.

I have always been a firm believer that we determine each day whether we are going to be happy or not. Mr. Hamilton quoted figure skater Eric Heiden in his book saying “It’s not the events in our life that define our character, but how we deal with them.” Β I feel like it is so easy to just want to give up and feel sorry for yourself when you are facing challenges in your life. However, if you deal with them head on and seek God, you will be better because of it. Mr. Hamilton talks about how cancer can be a “gift.” I know it sounds odd but it is so true. I would never wish it upon anyone but I am so thankful that God gave me this challenge so that I could draw closer to Him and the people I love. I will share more from the book during my next post because I don’t want this one to get too long. πŸ™‚

This weekend my Uncle Jerry and Aunt Deidra are coming down to visit. We are going to go to the zoo on Friday. Even if they have to push me around in a stroller, I am going to go to the zoo! Then Saturday is Caroline’s 19th birthday! We are going to PF Changs to celebrate that evening. It should be a fun weekend! I go back to my oncologist next week. Please pray that everything goes well and that I get all the answers I need for this upcoming chapter in my life. I will also be having another lung function test sometime in August that I am getting nervous about as well. However, I know God has a plan and He will see me through whatever the outcome may be. Thanks again for all the support and prayers. I will try not to wait as long to update again!

It’s all downhill from here


Well as you all know, my last chemotherapy treatment has come and gone! I don’t think it has quite set in yet because I still don’t have much energy but I’m still very excited! We have been thanking God every second of every day for how wonderful He has been to me over these past 6 months. I can’t say that it has been easy, but He is has made it possible! Thank you so much for all your prayers and support! It is awesome to see how God works and it’s so motivating to have people behind you when you go through challenges like this in your life.

On Thursday, my doctor’s appointment wasn’t until 2:00 p.m. My parents came home from work around noon and we all headed out. I was unaware that they had anything planned! To my surprise, there were posters lining Range Road all the way to the highway with words of encouragement and celebration on them! My neighbors, mom’s coworkers, and dad’s coworkers were even out there holding some signs to cheer me on! It was amazing! I am so blessed with such an awesome family who loves me so much! It brought me to tears to see all these posters! I will try to post pictures soon!

That wasn’t even all of it! When we got back into town, my dad, Nanny, Will, and our wonderful neighbors were all holding a sign that read “The Finish Line!” It was so neat! I was still pretty out of it from all the chemo meds but I loved it! All the signs from earlier that day were in our yard and Lindsay and Scott got a lot of pictures! We had a great meal from Will’s sister, Ashley, and I didn’t get sick!! All in all, it was a great day! I can’t believe it’s finally over!

I go back to my oncologist in a couple of weeks to go over all my questions and schedule my future PET scans. I made an appointment to see my family doctor this week for a follow-up since I am now finished with treatment. I don’t know how I am ever going to get back into the world of not sanitizing everything before I touch it! πŸ™‚ I’m sure that with time it will get better. However, I think I will always wash my hands more than a normal person.

Although I still don’t have a lot of energy, we are trying to do some fun things with Nanny this week before she leaves on Saturday! 😦 I told her that she could only leave if she promised to come back within a month! She has been a godsend to me and I can’t imagine having gone through these last 6 months without her by my side. We have gotten so close these past 6 months and she will always hold a special place in my heart. I will be forever grateful for all that she has done for me! We made her a photo album of our “journey” together these past 6 months so she will never forget the wonderful times we had!

God is good and I am so thankful that my relationship with Him has grown tremendously during this time. I have learned more about Him than I ever knew before. He has provided me with strength, peace, and comfort exactly when I needed it. He has also used His people to show me His love and I will make it a priority to show others His love for the rest of my life. I am now a Cancer Survivor and proud of it but I could not have done it without Him. Glory be to God, the victory is His!



When we think about Independence Day, we are reminded of our forefathers who founded America so many years ago so that we may have freedom. When I think of freedom, I am thankful to those who have fought for our country so that we may continue to have that freedom that we so often take for granted. I also think of Jesus Christ who died on the cross, freeing me from my sins, so that I may have eternal life with Him. To me, that is the greatest freedom of all.

While I am very thankful for the different types of freedom I mentioned above, those weren’t necessarily what I wanted to talk about in this blog post today. I wanted to talk about the freedom I am going to have from cancer after tomorrow! Yes, tomorrow!! Tomorrow is my last day of chemotherapy! The day I have been waiting for for the past 6 months! While it will still be a day full of nausea and extreme fatigue, I will be celebrating the fact that this journey is over! After tomorrow, I can work on recovering. Cancer will not define me anymore and I can’t wait for that!

God has been so good to me! I have seriously wondered several times recently how people go through trials in their life without Him. I previously talked about “faith” from my Beth Moore bible study. One quote from that study that spoke to me and I love was “Beyond every conquest is a promise fulfilled. Faith fights.” Having faith in God is everything to me. He does fulfill His promises to you, if you only have faith in Him. Ever since the beginning of this journey, He has given me peace. Phillipians 4:7 states “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” His peace is what has gotten me through this journey and for that I will ever be thankful.

This past weekend I got to spend some time with Will’s daughter, Ashlei, and we had a great time. We spent some time at the neighbor’s pool and that was a lot of fun. There was a nice breeze so it wasn’t too hot and Nanny went over there with us too! Monday, I had lunch with my friend Emily who had been gone on vacation for over a week. It was great to get to catch up! Tuesday, I got to see some of Will’s nieces and nephews that live out of town and then Will and I had dinner with friends that evening.

Hopefully today will be another great day before my last round of chemo tomorrow! I woke up with a fever but hopefully that will go away because I want to be able to enjoy the day. We are supposed to go to Will’s sister’s house for lunch with his family and then we are having dinner tonight with my family, our wonderful neighbor’s, and their daughter Lindsay and her family! After all of that, I am hoping to get to see a few fireworks at the local fireworks show.

I ask that you please pray for my final day of chemotherapy. Pray that my blood counts aren’t too low, that I won’t have a fever, and that I will be able to have treatment. Pray that I won’t get sick and my recovery will be faster than normal. I am a little nervous about tomorrow but I know that it is in God’s hands and Β He will provide. Jeremiah 26:14 says “As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right.” Thank you so much for your prayers and support. I could not have done it without all of you! Have a wonderful 4th and let us not forget the many ways that we have been given freedom. God bless!