Author Archives: brittanyswank

Happy 50th Mom!

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Yesterday was my beautiful mother’s 50th birthday! I’m sure many of you are surprised that she is 50 years old because she doesn’t look 50 at all! I can only hope and pray that I look as good as she does at 50! Oh, and that she doesn’t kill me for letting the whole world know that she is 50! 🙂 We have been celebrating her birthday since last Friday when her twin sister and friends arrived from Missouri. They had a fun-filled weekend of shopping, eating sweets, and reminiscing! Yesterday on her actual birthday, we went out to the golf course in the morning, laid by the pool in the afternoon, and then Dad and Caroline took her shopping and out to dinner in OKC. The celebrating isn’t over yet! Her wonderful co-workers decorated her office and made her a cake today and then we are having dinner with the neighbors for her birthday next week. She deserves every single bit of it because she is the greatest mom that anyone could ask for! She is not only my mom but my best friend as well! 🙂 Here’s to 50 more years, mom!

It’s hard to believe that I only have a little over a week left until my last chemotherapy treatment. I had a full list of questions for my doctor last round. Some of the answers I received include that I can’t eat raw fruits and veggies until August, I have to stay on antibiotics for another month, and may not be able to get my port out until September after my next PET scan. One major plus from my last chemo is that I didn’t get sick!! We noticed in my doctor’s appt that for some strange reason I hadn’t been getting one of my anti-nausea medications in my IV before chemo since February. Well that is fixed now and seemed to help a great deal! I still haven’t had much energy and have to be careful being out in the heat but other than that I’m doing pretty well.

Nanny and I went to pick peaches this morning with our wonderful neighbor Terry! Although I couldn’t actually pick them myself, I supervised and we got a lot of good peaches! Nanny is actually peeling them all right now so we can freeze them and have some wonderful treats later! I’m so excited! I have been trying to do as much as possible with Nanny since she will be going home soon. I don’t know how I’m going to let her go! 😦 I told her last night that she could only go home if she promised to come back soon!

I don’t think we have much planned for the rest of the week and the weekend. I am looking forward to spending some time with Will and his daughter Ashlei on my “good” weekend before my last round of chemo! My last chemo is July 5 so at least I will get to enjoy the 4th with friends and family! God is so good! Last night, Nanny and I watched the movie “Soul Surfer.” If you haven’t seen it, you should definitely go rent it! I had already seen the movie once before but could relate much more now than I did then. The young girl in the movie loses her arm and starts questioning how this could be part of God’s plan for her life. Well one thing the movie does a good job of is showing that God has a plan for all of us, even if that plan is sometimes hard to understand. He allows us to go through things so that we and others may draw closer to Him. I love that I can always count on Him and I know my life will be a lot better because of this trial. Thanks for all your prayers! ONE MORE!!

Faith

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My Beth Moore bible study this week was called “Keep Believin’.” It started out talking about faith that abounds and gave the scripture Psalm 145:13 which states “The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.” This means a lot to me because He has been faithful to me through all of this and I know He will be faithful to me after this as well. He has definitely taught me that I have to trust Him through all aspects of my life because He is the only one in control. While at times, I tend to worry about what is ahead of me in my life, I have to trust that He already knows and it will be perfect.

The next part of the study talked about all the people in the bible that were 100% faithful to God. A lot of them I was already familiar with such as Enoch, Abel, Noah, Moses, and Abraham. The faith they possessed was incredible. The study talked about how it is important to base our faith on who God is and not what He has or hasn’t done for us. It states how faith comes from listening to Him and being involved in His word.

The fourth day’s lesson was called “Fight the Good Fight.” I really loved this lesson because it talked about how Jesus could do few miracles in His own town because of the people’s lack of faith. It taught how Satan uses fear and familiarity against us. Before I had cancer, I always thought it was hard for me to witness to others because my story wasn’t very unique. I have been a Christian since I was 7, grew up in church, and was familiar with all the common bible studies. Satan used that against me and made me timid in sharing God’s word. Satan also uses our fear against us because we often times don’t witness to others in fear of rejection.

The last day of this study was about how Christ has promised us of His return. If we only believe in Him, then He will take us with Him to the place which He has prepared for us. How awesome is that?! I have known this since I was little but was unsure of where the scriptural reference was until now. If you are like me and don’t know where to find this, check it out in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. The most amazing part of it all is that we just have to believe in Him. It doesn’t matter what our past looks like or if we have had moments of disbelief, He will still remain faithful to us. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for that day!

I hope you enjoyed learning about God’s faithfulness as much as I did. He has been oh so good to me and I just couldn’t not share this wonderful message with you. This week I found another girl my age who is battling cancer in Colorado. She is the sister of a friend of mine from college. I am planning on writing her an email soon because her blog has been so encouraging to me and I didn’t even know she existed until this week. Just another example of how awesome God is! 🙂

This past weekend we celebrated Father’s Day. On Saturday, Will’s family had a cookout at his parent’s house and it was a fun afternoon full of food, water games, and laughter. Sunday, my family went to OKC to play golf, eat lunch, and do a little shopping to celebrate our wonderful dad! That evening, we had dinner with our wonderful neighbors the Varnell’s! I have the greatest dad in the world! I hope everyone else had a wonderful father’s day weekend as well!

Tomorrow is my second to last round of chemotherapy. While I am really dreading being ill again, I am also very ready to be down to only 1 left. I have written down several questions to ask the doctor so lets hope I don’t overwhelm him. It’s crazy to think that it’s almost over. Just two weeks left! Thanks for all your support and continued prayers. I am really looking forward to the end of all of this and now that is very near! 🙂

25 Years Old

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I’m pretty sure that after people turn 21, they don’t usually tell people outright how old they are. Well I am proud to say that I turned 25 years old yesterday! I am so thankful for those 25 years that God has blessed me with and I will tell anyone who wants to know how old I am. I am thankful that I am still alive and cancer-free! God obviously had bigger plans for me and I’m thankful for each year he gives me! I pray that he uses me in ways I never could have imagined.

As you know, I had chemo last week and am now down to just two left. My blood counts are still really low, I got sick again that evening, and I don’t remember much about the actual day of chemo, so nothing new. 🙂 It still seems to be taking longer to recover each time but the doctor said that is pretty typical since you are just adding more chemo drugs to your body each time. I think I can make it through two more!

I had a great birthday weekend! On Friday evening, I had dinner with my family and then Will and I made a pallet in the living room floor and watched a movie! That is one of my favorite things to do and worked out well since I still wasn’t feeling too hot! Saturday, Will took me shopping for my birthday, I sat by the pool with my friend Emily, grilled out with Will, and then had ice cream with Emily! Sunday, on my actual birthday, my family and I watched church online, went out to Boomer lake to get a little exercise, laid by the pool, and then had dinner along with Will’s family at the neighbor’s house! It was a wonderful weekend and I couldn’t have asked for any better! I have such wonderful friends and family and am so thankful for each one of them!

We don’t really have much planned for this week besides cheering on the Thunder!! If you aren’t aware of who I am talking about, Oklahoma City has a fairly new NBA team called the OKC Thunder and they made it to the NBA Finals this year! We are big fans and you could be sure that I would be going to some games if I was allowed to be around that many people! My parents and Will are getting to go to some games but Nanny and I will just cheer them on from home!

While doing my Beth Moore bible study this week, I read a scripture from 2 Corinthians 12 which talked about Paul pleading with God to remove a thorn in his side. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” This verse spoke to me because the end of this journey is getting to be very long and trying. I have to remember that God’s grace is enough to get me through and His power is made perfect in my weakness. I know that with Him, I can endure. Thank you so much for your prayers! Just two more to go!

One Month From Today

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A lot has been going on since I last wrote a post. This past weekend we headed to Kansas City for my cousin Courtney’s wedding and had so much fun! Courtney was a beautiful bride and it was so great to be able to be there with her and share those special memories with her. The wedding turned out perfectly and it was so much fun seeing all my old friends from high school as well! I seriously have the best friends a girl could possibly ask for. I think I hold all my friendships a little more dearly to my heart after going through something like this and I can’t imagine life without them.

We got back to town on Sunday in time to go to our neighbor Terry’s surprise retirement party! Our neighbor’s are like our family and are so special to us. Their twin daughters were in town for the party and it was so nice to be able to see them and visit with them for a little while. Terry was such a wonderful teacher for many years but I am so excited that she is now retired and gets to relax a little! She is always doing something for someone else so it was good that we were able to celebrate her and show her how great she is!

Today is Nanny’s birthday! We are having a great day celebrating Nanny today. As you already know, I am so thankful for her in my life and can’t imagine what it would be like without her here during this time. I took a walk with her this morning, we went to lunch with Will and his parents, Caroline and I took her shopping this afternoon, and tonight my family is taking her out to eat in Oklahoma City! All in all, I think she has had a wonderful day! I am so glad she is down here with us so we can show her just how special she is to us!

As you can see, we have been pretty busy the past several days. Luckily, I have felt pretty good and have been able to enjoy all the celebrations! Tomorrow, I go back for another round of chemotherapy. Although I really dread those days, I am glad that after tomorrow I just have two more left. The first thing Nanny said to me this morning was “exactly one month from today and you will be finished.” That is so very exciting to me! I absolutely cannot wait to be finished with all of this!

While I am more than ready for this to be over, I am so thankful for all that God has taught me through all of this. I have learned more than anything to not sweat the small stuff. God is in control of every little thing in our lives so we might as well not worry about it and turn it all over to Him. I am reading a book right now called “The Great Eight.” It’s written by a World Champion figure skater who had testicular cancer and then a brain tumor which destroyed his pituitary gland. I have only begun to read it but it’s already so inspiring because he talks about how even after going through something so life changing, he is so much happier now than he was before he went through all of it. I have only gotten through his first key to happiness but it was always trusting your “Almighty Coach.” He refers to God as the Almighty Coach and he couldn’t be more right! God has definitely been my coach through all of this and I don’t know what I would do without my faith in Him. Thanks again for your prayers and I ask that you keep them coming for ONE MORE MONTH!!

 

Simply Blessed

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So I had another round of chemotherapy and a doctor’s appointment last week and I would have written a post sooner to update you guys but I just haven’t recovered as well this round. The fatigue has been pretty bad but along with the fatigue, I have had a headache, jaw pain, nausea and muscle soreness off and on. However, I started feeling a little better yesterday and was able to get out and do some stuff which I will tell ya about in a bit. First things first, my doctors appointment went really well. My doctor said that my heart test came back completely normal. For those of you who know medical terminology, my ejection fraction (which is the blood pumped out of your heart with every beat) was 66% and the norm for this is between 50-75%. I don’t know as much about my lung test. Not sure if I just can’t remember or if he didn’t tell me the name of the number he gave me but basically the number was 101 before I started chemo and now it is down to 82. Dr. Armor said that he wasn’t concerned as long as the number wasn’t below 75. I asked if we would have to do this test again after I am completely finished with chemo and he said we shouldn’t have to. I trust him completely so I’m not going to worry about it! God is so good and once again has answered my prayers!

Chemotherapy went pretty well this week. Sadly, my nurse Julie, who I have had for all my other treatments except 1 moved to California and I was unable to tell her goodbye in person. However, she called me on the phone the night before and we had such an encouraging conversation. I am so thankful for people like her. She is so dedicated to treating patients who have cancer and she is definitely a special person. I feel blessed to have gotten to know her so well and wish her the best of luck in the future. I had another awesome nurse this week who has recently gone through chemotherapy herself so she knows exactly what I’m going through. I greatly admire the fact that even after going through chemo, she can still give it to other people who need it. That says a lot about her character because even hearing the name chemo makes me want to vomit after going through it. Luckily, I didn’t get sick during my treatment this time. However, I did get sick later that afternoon when trying to take some nausea medicine. I think at this point it’s just inevitable.

Nanny left for the week on Thursday which always makes me sad. Luckily, I had my wonderful sister, Will’s mom and Will who all took shifts taking care of me for the day while my parents took her home. 🙂 I didn’t do a lot on Thursday or Friday due to extreme fatigue and nausea. Saturday, I was able to go lay under my umbrella at the neighbor’s pool for the first time this summer and that was really nice. Saturday night I had an awful headache which didn’t allow me to do much. Sunday, I started feeling a little better and was able to go to sit at the pool again with some of Will’s nieces and nephews. That was a lot of fun! Yesterday was probably my best day since my last treatment. Although I still didn’t have a ton of energy, I was able to go with my family to the outlet mall in OKC. I have the best parents in the world! We got there early enough to beat the crowd, had a great lunch outside, and shopped a bit, taking breaks when I needed them. That afternoon I went to the pool with Will and my friend Emily. Yesterday evening was so much fun as well! Will grilled out for the first time this summer and we had the best steak and chicken with french fries and marshmallow fruit salad. We just relaxed, watched some  TV, and even listened to the rain from the sun room! It was a perfect day! I am so greatly blessed with such wonderful people in my life!

I was kind of worried about how this week would go since Nanny was going to be gone until next weekend. However, last week my neighbor’s daughter Lindsay texted me and said that her and her family would be coming to town for the week and would love to “babysit” me! 🙂 I don’t get to spend time with them very often so that worked out perfectly! God just works everything out for the good all the time. I spent today with my sister and then plan on spending some time with them and their adorable little girl the next couple of days. Once again, how lucky am I?!

This next weekend is going to be a very busy one! My cousin, who is 11 months older than me, is getting married!! She is going to be a beautiful bride and I can’t wait to celebrate with her. Thankfully it is on my “good” weekend so hopefully I will have a lot of energy! 🙂 I am looking very forward to seeing my family and many friends this weekend. We have the bridal luncheon and rehearsal dinner on Friday and then the wedding Saturday evening. Sunday, we will be bringing Nanny home with us again! Maybe this time I can hold her hostage because I don’t know how I’m ever going to handle her leaving for good in a little over a month now. 🙂

Have you ever heard the saying “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good?” Well I can tell you firsthand that it is so true. He has been so faithful to me through all of this and he deserves so much praise! Even though I stated how this time has been a little rough and I haven’t recovered as well, he still provided me happiness. The weather has been so nice and even when I feel like doing nothing, I can still sit out on the deck and enjoy the weather. Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. I only have 3 treatments left and it’s hard to believe that it will all be over in a little over a month now. I can hardly wait!!

Good News!

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First of all I want to say thank you soooo much for your many prayers because HE IS LISTENING!! I had a PET scan on Tuesday and was not expecting to get the results until my doctor’s appointment next week! However, my wonderful nurse Pam called Wednesday evening and gave me the best news I have ever heard in my entire life! She said that my PET scan stated that there was no evidence of any more cancer!! That just made my day! We had popcorn and a cherry lime aid to celebrate that night 🙂

God is just so amazing! He puts people in my life on almost a daily basis that show me His love. I had my heart and lung function test yesterday and I had the same pulmonary technician as I had the first time. Her name was Rachel and she is so sweet! She was genuinely concerned about how I was doing and even got tears in her eyes when she asked me about how it was to lose my hair. She was so encouraging and made it not so bad to have to go through the tests I had to do. Today, Nanny and I went shopping and the girl in Buckle that assisted us was super sweet as well. After telling me that I smelled good, she gave me the biggest compliment that I have gotten in awhile. She told me that she loved my eyelashes!! I did not have fake ones on today either! I just had a little bit of makeup on and she was being serious! I love how good God is!

While doing my bible study the other day, I came across a few verses that spoke to me so much! James 1:2-4 states “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” This is so very true. God has definitely used this time in my life to test my faith and mature me. Although it hasn’t been the most fun time in my life, it has surely been a time that I will always be thankful for. He has richly blessed me!

I don’t have much planned this weekend besides dinner with friends Saturday evening. I will keep you updated as soon as I get the results about my heart and lungs. I think I was more nervous about these then the PET scan because I don’t want to have to worry about damage to my heart or lungs after this is all over. However, I know that God has been so good thus far and that He will bring me through again! Thanks again for your many prayers! Hope you enjoyed seeing all the new pictures I recently added! 🙂

Still Going Strong

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A LOT has happened since I last posted a blog! First of all, I am now down to 4 chemotherapy treatments left and that means exactly 2 months left to go! I can’t say they are getting any easier because I got just as sick last time as I ever have. However, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and even if I get sick from here on out, I will make it! My blood counts were low again during my last doctor’s visit which we aren’t really sure why they went back down but my doctor did not seem to be concerned so that’s good. Also, I have to say goodbye to the best chemo nurse ever at my next treatment because she is moving to Sacramento, CA. 😦 She has been so wonderful to me and I’m sure she will do awesome things in her future.

As many of you know, this past weekend was a big milestone for me! I graduated with my doctorate degree in Physical Therapy. We had an honor and awards banquet on Friday night where I received an “Excellence in Research” award which was totally unexpected. Then we had graduation on Saturday morning. It was very tiring since my chemo was still pretty recent but I made it! That night we had family and friends over for dinner on the deck to celebrate and it was such a fun evening. I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me these past 7 years of school. I can’t believe it’s finally over. It was kind of bittersweet this weekend because I have been waiting to be done with school for so long now but at the same time I will miss my classmates who I spent almost every day with for the past 3 years. I wish them all the best of luck in their future careers.

I think God has been trying to teach me lately that beauty is not skin deep. As you already know, I lost my hair several months ago now. Well, my eyelashes and eyebrows have been slowly falling out as well. I use a gel everyday that is supposed to help them grow back in as soon as they fall out but some of it is inevitable. I asked my mom to get me fake eyelashes to wear to graduation this past weekend. I wore them Friday night to the honor and awards banquet and my eyes burned so badly all night from the glue that you would have thought I was crying. I decided it wasn’t worth it to wear them again on Saturday. I put mascara on the few lashes I have left and was good to go! I have truly learned that outer beauty is nothing compared to what is within.

I heard a song on the radio the other day called “Come as you are” by Pocket Full of Rocks. It really spoke to me because it talks about how God doesn’t care about your scars or what you have been through. He just wants us to come to Him, just as we are. He doesn’t care what we look like, He just wants to see our heart. If you haven’t heard this song you should listen to it on youtube, it’s awesome! God has been so good to me! I heard this weekend that a friend of a friend of mine had passed away. While it saddened me for all his friends and family, it also made me envious of him that he is now with our heavenly father. This man lived life 100% for God and I have no doubt in my mind that Jesus welcomed him by saying “well done my good and faithful servant.” His life gives me and hopefully others motivation to live life the same way.

Caroline is now home for the summer and while she probably doesn’t like us asking her what she is doing all the time, I couldn’t be happier to have her here! She lightens the mood just being in her presence. She was such big help this past weekend and I am so thankful for her! We have been hanging out with Nanny, watching Ellen everyday at 4, and taking walks when we have the time 🙂 Luckily, there have been a lot of good movies out lately too so if you need any suggestions on which ones to watch, just ask!

Although this week is not my week for chemo, it is still a very big week for me! I have a PET scan tomorrow and then a heart and lung function test on Thursday. The PET scan is to check again to see if the cancer is gone and the heart and lung tests are to make sure the chemo is not harming my heart or lungs. Please pray that both of these tests bring good results. I know that God is in control and whatever the outcome may be, He will bring me through.  I just truly believe in the power of prayer and praying for specifics. John 16:23 says “In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” Thank you once again for your prayers. I will be uploading many pictures very soon!