Countdown is ON!

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After my last chemotherapy, I now have only 5 treatments left to go! When I sit and think about it, that still seems like quite a few but in retrospect, I have already been through 4 months, so two more months should fly by! My last chemo treatment went better than expected. They gave me more anti-anxiety/nausea medication than they have before and that really seemed to help! I slept the whole way home and went to bed as soon as I got home. I didn’t really remember much about that day after it was all over which is how I like it! πŸ™‚

The doctor said that my blood counts were slowly but surely raising which is good! I also had gained TWO pounds! While my whole family and Will were both very excited about this news, I was not!! I realize that maintaining a good weight is good during this time but no girl ever likes to gain weight! I am trying to eat healthy and walk more because swim suit season is just around the corner and even if I have to sit in the shade by the pool, I will be wearing a swim suit! πŸ™‚

I have been kind of frustrated this past week because I have been really tired and low on energy. I realize that is probably normal for a person going through chemotherapy. However, it is so hard when you used to be such an active person to try to pace yourself when doing things so you don’t get worn out. I feel like I play a mental game with myself daily. I tell myself that I can do whatever I want to get done that day and then my body ends up getting too worn out after I have pushed it to the limit. I just can’t stop, I’m not a lazy person!

This past weekend, I hung out with Will and his daughter Ashlei quite a bit. We were lucky to be able to hang out outside a lot because it has been so nice out! Saturday night, Nanny and I stayed in and watched the Thunder game on TV because mom and dad and Will all had tickets to go to the game in OKC! I’m not gonna lie, we may have been a tiny bit jealous! πŸ™‚ Monday night, I got a new phone! Mine had been acting up lately and was almost two years old so when our contract ran out, it was time for me to get a new one. On Tuesday nights, Nanny and I have a ritual of going to watch Will’s team play softball. It’s a lot of fun and something for us to do to get outside! Yesterday, Nanny and I went mattress shopping. I haven’t been sleeping well and the only thing I can think of that may be hindering that is that my mattress is uncomfortable. So we went and found a really soft mattress and I slept a LOT better last night! πŸ™‚ Last night, I also walked two miles with my friend Emily! That was a milestone for me!

Things are about to get really crazy around here with graduation coming up in a little over a week now! Please pray that I feel better than I did this past weekend during the weekend of graduation. I am really nervous about that! I don’t have much planned this weekend besides watching Ashlei’s soccer games and resting. The weather has been so nice out lately and there is nothing better than sitting outside and relaxing. Hope you all are enjoying it as much as I am!

My bible study this past week was about peace. I have said this since the very beginning, but God has been SO great about giving me peace during this, ever since day 1! One of our daily lessons this week was about Lazarus and it really hit home with me. If you get a chance you might read John Chapter 11. Although I had heard this story many times growing up, it meant so much more to me now. I pray that God gives each of you an overwhelming peace, knowing that He is taking care of every situation or condition you may have. John 14:27 states “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Thanks so much for your continued support and prayer. God is good!

Adversity

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I am SO very sorry that it has been two weeks now since my last post. This was not my intention whatsoever. However, life has been eventful for me since I last posted. I will try to give you the short version of what has been going on in my life since I last wrote. My last chemo treatment was not so great. My blood counts are still at the same low and before the nurse even started giving me any drugs, I started gagging. 😦 While I didn’t get sick during the treatment, I did get sick again right after it was over. I came home and slept most of the evening and Thursday seemed to be a better day.

Friday night I woke up in the middle of the night (3 am) to the sound of the tornado sirens going off. I quickly woke up my mom who woke up the rest of the family and we headed to the neighbors to take shelter. Saturday, Nanny and I played games with Will’s daughter Ashlei in the afternoon and then my whole family went to watch my sister perform in OSU’s “Spring Sing” on Saturday evening which is a show put on by the fraternities and sororities at OSU. Unfortunately, I was not able to go due to the many people that attend this event. While they were gone, I hung out at Will’s with the rest of his family who was preparing for the huge storms we were expecting to get that evening. Luckily, Stillwater was not hit that night but a small town called Woodward was hit hard. We are still praying for them as they rebuild their homes, businesses, and grieve over the loss of their possessions and some loved ones. Sunday, I “helped” Will and Ash clean out their attic. By saying “helped,” I mean that I sat and kept them company while they did the work. πŸ™‚ Nanny went home for the week on Sunday and that was hard to let her go, even though its only a week.

On Monday, I had lunch with a friend and then ran some errands with Will’s mom Jennie that afternoon. My parents were both starting to get colds on Monday so I hung out at Will’s parents that night to try to avoid getting sick. However, my immune system is so low that it was almost unavoidable. I woke up Tuesday morning at 5:30am with a sore throat. 😦 I was supposed to go to school that day but instead I spent most of the day trying to get ahold of my oncologist, who was out of town, to try and see if I could take some medicine to get over this. I didn’t have school Wednesday so I used that day to try and recover. Thursday I still wasn’t feeling well but had been on antibiotics for over 24 hours so I wasn’t contagious. I went to school and it was good to see my classmates whom I hadn’t seen since January before all of this began. Friday I started feeling a little better but was still pretty worn out from going to school all day the day before. We had class again Friday and also took graduation pictures. I spent the evening at Will’s parents for a nice family dinner.

This past weekend, we were supposed to go back to Missouri for a shower for my cousin who is getting married in June. However, my mom and I still were not feeling well enough to travel. Although I was very disappointed that I wasn’t able to see family and friends from back home this weekend, I also did not want to over-do it and end up in the hospital due to getting even more sick. Instead, I decided to find out just how sensitive I am to the sun. I sat and watched Ashlei’s soccer game on Saturday afternoon and was only out there for an hour. I didn’t think it would be a problem but I got really burnt. 😦 Guess I will know to take an umbrella next time. I also dropped by my friend Emily’s tea party and had some wonderful desserts. Sunday was a pretty lazy day. Will and I went to church and then just hung out for most of the day. Nanny came back yesterday evening and I’m really glad to have her back!!

Okay I think you are all caught up now. As you can see, my last couple weeks have been very eventful and I encountered some things that were definitely unexpected. However, I made it through and learned a few lessons. πŸ™‚ This week is going to be very busy as well. Nanny is getting back to her cleaning routine and we have several errands to run this afternoon. Tomorrow I have to go back to school for the day to watch my class give presentations. Then Wednesday is my 7th round of chemo. We are on the downhill slide! Please pray that this time goes better than last and hopefully my blood counts will be higher this time as well.

My devotion that I read last night was called “Learning the Art of Acceptance.” The scripture it referenced was Job 2:10 which states “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?” It talked about how we always want to be in control of our lives and it is hard when God throws us a curveball that was not in “our plan.” I am one of the world’s worst at planning my life and future without seeking God’s will. I think God gives us these curveballs to let us know that He is in control and ultimately He will have the final word. This devotion also quoted Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer which states “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I love this! After 3 months, I can honestly say that I have accepted my condition and even my bald head πŸ™‚ I now just pray that God will give me the courage to change the things that He wants me to change and the wisdom to know the difference!

Thanks once again for the prayers! I will try to do better at writing blog posts more often. It’s hard to believe that my graduation is in a little over two weeks. While I have waited for this day for 7 years now, its almost bittersweet that its finally here. However, I can’t wait for summer and hope that I am able to sit by the pool soon, even if that means sitting in the shade! πŸ™‚ I am praying for each and every one of you who is going through a difficult time right now. May you seek God during this time and draw closer to Him more than you ever have. God bless!

Joy

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Ever since I finished week 4 of my Beth Moore bible study last week I have wanted to write a blog about joy but just haven’t found the time until now. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m trying to preach on this subject but God has just laid it on my heart to share it with you so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. While I love all of my weekly studies with her, this one made a special impact on me at this particular time.Β The title of our weekly study was called “The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength.” The first day’s lesson talked about how we should find joy in the fact that if we believe, our names will be written in heaven so that one day we will rejoice with Him.

The second day’s lesson talked about being surprised by joy. I think this was the lesson that spoke to me the most because it talked about finding joy in the midst of your circumstances. Many of you may be familiar with the apostle Paul writing from prison walls in Phillipians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice.” Beth Moore states that losing everything was worth it to Paul because he discovered that “to know Him” was greater than any loss he would suffer. I think it was perfect timing that I read this not only because I too am going through a trial of my own but also with the celebration of Easter this past weekend. It really puts things into perspective to think about Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins. Our preacher yesterday made a perfect point when he said that Jesus could have saved Himself and not had to struggle any longer on the cross but then we wouldn’t be saved. If He could overcome the grave, then I know that I can overcome cancer with His help.

The third day’s lesson talked about restoration joy. This day’s scripture was Psalm 71:20,23 ” You who have shown me many troubles and distresses will revive me again, and will bring me up again from the depths of the earth. My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; and my soul which You have redeemed.” Beth talks about how God gives us trials in our lives because He desires to reveal His joy to us through restoration. I find hope in 1 Peter 5:10 which states “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.”

The fourth day’s lesson talked about how we will find joy if we abide in Him. One of my favorite verses that it gives is from Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all of your heart.” It is so sad to me to think that many people never experience the joy of the Lord because they do not seek Him and His word. It gives several reasons why believers lose their joy as well including the following: when our outpour exceeds our intake, when our talk exceeds our walk, when we become “wonder junkies” (looking for God in miraculous events and failing to see His gentle whispers), when we are exhausted, or when we feel all alone. I think all of us are guilty at times of at least one of these.

The last day’s lesson was called “my joy and my crown.” Paul calls Jesus Christ his “joy and crown” in Phillipians 4:1. We are to share this with others and fellowship with other believers to experience His “joy and crown.” Beth ends the weekly study stating that everyone is looking for happiness that comes from within and if you are a believer in Christ you have it. We should be willing to share anywhere, anytime just like 1 Peter 3:15 states “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

I really hope that there was someone reading this that needed to hear these words as much as I did when I completed the study. I also hope that everyone had a great Easter. I had a busy but wonderful weekend. To give you a little recap, I stayed in with Will on Friday night and we watched “War Horse” which is a great movie! Saturday, I went shopping in OKC with my family and then visited with my neighbor’s daughter Ashley and her husband Heath which was great because it had been so long since I had seen them. That evening we had dinner with some wonderful friends, Emily and Brian. Sunday we went to church, had Easter lunch with my family, and then watched the kids in Will’s family hunt Easter eggs! It was a somewhat sad evening because it was the end of the Masters golf tournament which I love but I was glad to see a great win by Bubba Watson.

I have chemo again this Wednesday which will be a big milestone- halfway!! I seemed to recover a little better this time than I have before so hopefully this next week won’t be bad either. Especially since I will have to be in class all next week. Thank you once again for your prayers. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful support group of Christian believers. To God be the glory given. As the chorus of the new song by Jeremy Camp “Overcome” goes “Jesus, worthy of honor and glory, worthy of all of our praise, You overcame.” If He overcame death, then we too shall overcome our many circumstances and find joy in Him.

The Little Things

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So I don’t really have a lot to write about but I want to keep you all updated on what’s going on in my life and not go too long between posts. This past weekend was a lot of fun! Nanny and I spent the day together on Saturday and luckily I felt good enough to get out and run some errands and watch a movie with her! We also did Ashlei’s birthday party on Sunday and although we couldn’t do much outside due to the heat, it was still a good time! I owe a big thanks to Will’s sister Ashley for helping us out and letting us have it at her house. I had so much fun sitting outside on Will’s parents back porch with the kids that evening as well.

I have learned more and more the past few days about just how bad “chemo brain” actually is. I am usually really organized and am able to have everything in order. However, Will’s sister quickly learned on Sunday that I am not on my “A game” these days. I couldn’t think of anything that we needed for the party and had to apologize several times for being so dense! πŸ™‚ Then just last night my mother and I were talking about graduation and I seriously could not remember if I called last week to order my cap and gown or not. Luckily, my call log showed that I had and when I called again today to make sure they were very understanding! It’s amazing just how bad it affects your memory. I hope the long-term effects are not this bad.

I finished getting everything in order for my graduation today! Cap, gown, and graduation announcements are ordered; class dues are paid; and I have been working on finishing up my final portfolio. It’s getting so close! My chemotherapy just happens to fall on the Wednesday before my graduation. I asked the doctor this past week if we could switch my chemo day that week so I would have a little more time to recover. He highly recommended that we didn’t because research has proven that reoccurrence rates are lower when you stick to a schedule. He told me that I should have plenty of adrenaline flowing that day to get me through the day just fine.

I have been thanking God this week for helping me to feel better sooner! The only thing that is still really difficult for me is the lack of energy. I think that sometimes effects my mood more than anything because I am not able to do the things I was normally used to doing. I walked a mile through my neighborhood last night with my mom, Will’s mom, and Will’s niece and my legs ached the whole night. I am not complaining because I am so glad I was able to walk that far! Besides the rain today, the weather has been so nice and I have loved being outside every chance I get! I used to complain that our deck was shaded all afternoon because I couldn’t lay out in the sun. However, now I am loving the shade because I can sit out there all day! πŸ™‚

It’s the little things that make me so happy right now! I love the sunny warm weather, being around kids (if they aren’t sick), and spending time visiting with friends and family! I am so happy that I still have one more week before my next round of chemo. Hopefully I am able to have another fun weekend and celebrate Easter with the people I love. God is good and I am still so thankful for the many blessings He has given me through all of this. I once told a friend that was going through cancer that God never gives you more than you can handle. I am now trusting my own words because I know He is making me stronger with each day that passes. Thank you so much for your prayers! He is so good ALL THE TIME! πŸ™‚

Praise be to GOD!

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As many of you are aware, I had a PET scan on Monday and was given the results yesterday. I am not going to lie, I was probably more nervous for those results than I ever have been in my entire life. My Jesus Calling devotion the night before talked about how this is a time in my life where I need to let go and give God complete control. It also stated how He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. This was precious to me because someone very close to me had finished her battle with cancer and has been cancer free for a year now. After her yearly PET scan being clean, her daughter quoted this very scripture saying “Jesus Christ is the same same yesterday, today, and forever.” This is so very true because he was with her through her fight and I know he has been with me through mine. He showed up yesterday and I have hope that He will continue to show up throughout.

I also read from another devotion book Tuesday night about having faith strong enough to move mountains. It told a story about concentration came survivor Corrie ten Boom and how she relied on her faith even while she was in imprisonment and her four family members had died in Nazi death camps. She stated “there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” I was given a peace on Tuesday night that took all anxieties away. I had given it all up to God and knew that whatever the results would show on Wednesday that God was still on my side and this was all a part of His plan.

A friend of mine met me for lunch last week and shared with me about the new Life Church series called “Why?” She told me I should get online and watch the first lesson of the series and it was awesome. It was called “Why do I not always feel God’s presence?” I watched it Tuesday afternoon and it gave me a lot of inspiration. It talked about the different reasons that people do not feel His presence and I would have to say my biggest reason is just downright being distracted by other unimportant things. It also gave three ways you can feel God’s presence which included: 1) You will find God when you seek God- Jeremiah 29:13. 2) You can do life with God’s presence- John 14:16. 3) You can experience God NOW- Acts 17:27. I purposely did not write out these verses so you all can get into your bible and look them up yourself. πŸ™‚

Okay now for the big news that you have all been waiting for! The doctor cleared me to get a massage!!! Sorry that wasn’t the big news but it is true and I’m very excited about it! The big news is that the doctor went over my PET scan with us yesterday and compared it to my PET scan two months ago. He could not see any of the cancer remaining from that which was there earlier. He did see some residual scarring which he said was just the cancer dying but that was nothing to worry about. He told my family that he was happy for us and the way I was progressing. This means that I will just continue on with chemotherapy as planned and not have to do radiation for the time being. God deserves all the glory in this because soooo many prayers were answered!! He is so good ALL TIME TIME!

Chemotherapy didn’t seem to be as bad yesterday. However, I have been really tired and wore out even today. I am not sure how anyone could work through something like this. I have basically laid around and watched movies today which isn’t good for my mind. Hopefully tomorrow I will have more energy and be able to get back to my normal schedule. My family and I met my aunt and uncle in Branson last weekend to stay at some cabins and that was a lot of fun. Although we didn’t do a whole lot, we had a good time just hanging out at the cabin playing games and watching movies. They are so special to me and I’m so lucky to have them in my life.

This coming weekend is Will’s daughter Ashlei’s birthday! I am really excited about it because I have been doing all that I can to make it fun for her and still be there! We are planning on having it at a park so that I can still watch the kids play but not have to do a lot either. It will be so fun to get to see the kids interact because I have not gotten to be around them much since this all started. It is going to be Lego’s theme and I think we have a lot of fun things in store. She also has a couple soccer games this weekend which I am looking forward to hopefully making one of those as well. She is quite the little athlete!

Once again, I greatly appreciate the prayers you have sent up for me! You have no idea how much they mean to me, especially at a time like this. I am so fortunate to have such wonderful family and friends who I know would do anything they could for me. I have learned so much throughout this experience and I can’t wait to share my entire testimony someday. God really does deserve all the praise! He has been so good to me! I still struggle with doing things to keep my days full but other than that I am enjoying seeing old friends and getting some rest. Please keep up the prayers, they really make a difference!

 

No Pain, No Gain

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Well I had my fourth chemotherapy last week and this puts me 1/3 of the way finished with treatments! The treatment and doctor’s appointment seemed to go well. I had 200 neutrophils this time which is the most I have had yet! Woo-hoo! However, that is still an extremely low amount. I also got sick for the first time immediately after my chemo last week and have felt nauseous ever since. I think my expectations may be a little high and therefore I have been somewhat disappointed by my inability to rebound as quickly this time.

I titled this post “No pain, No gain” because this chemo stuff has definitely been painful but I know it has to be in order to get rid of the cancer! I don’t mean to be a “Debbie Downer” but no one really prepares you for how you are going to feel through all of this. I have just accepted the fact that I am never going to feel 100% normal until this is all over. My sleeping pills are no longer working and I am having trouble sleeping through the night. I also have this burning sensation in my upper abdomen pretty consistently which we think is a possible ulcer that we have been treating since the first week and it just doesn’t want to go away. On a positive note, my energy seems to be a little better today and I finally was able to get out and take a walk!

My sister has been home with me this week on her spring break and unfortunately due to me not feeling well and the rainy weather, we haven’t been able to do much yet. However, we are going to Branson with some family this weekend and we are pretty excited about that! It will be nice to get out of the house and spend some time with my aunt and uncle. I am so fortunate to have such a great sister who decided to stay home with me instead of going to the beach with her friends this week. Although we haven’t done much besides watch episodes of “Boy Meets World,” it has been really nice to spend time with her.

Next week is going to be a really BIG week! I have my next PET scan on Monday and the results of this basically determine my prognosis. Dr. Armor told us last week that with this type of cancer, usually it is all gone within 2 months of treatment. However, if it is not gone, we will more than likely have to do radiation along with chemotherapy. This is something we have been avoiding because it can increase my risk of breast cancer and heart attack before the age of 40. He also stated that while I will still be curable if there is still cancer in my body, it just means that the cancer isn’t responding as well and may be harder to fight. We will find out the results of the PET scan at my doctor’s appointment next Wednesday.

While I am really anxious about next week, I know that God is in control. More than ever, I have to trust in Him that it is all going to work out according to His plan. Isaiah 41:10 states “Don’t worry because I am with you, don’t be afraid because I am your God, I will make you strong and will help you.” I truly believe that He will give me the strength and peace I need whatever the outcome may be. I thank you for your support and prayers and ask that you please pray for the cancer to be gone from my body and that we will be able to continue on with treatment as planned.

Running the Race

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I had some family and friends that participated in a race this weekend called the Run Lucky 5K in OKC where all proceeds went to Lymphoma/Leukemia research. Although I did not participate, I cheered them on from the start line and then the finish line. Normally I get tired after just standing for a short period of time, but there was so much adrenaline that I stood for over an hour! It was so much fun! I have already told several people that I hope that I am able to train for this and run in it next year. Mark your calendars for next March if you want to join me! πŸ™‚ Look forward to pictures coming in my photo gallery from the race!

Even though I didn’t run the race on Sunday, the whole day I kept thinking about how I am running my own race. I am referring to Hebrews 12:1-3 which states “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lost heart.” Although my race seems rather long right now, it will soon end and I too will have overcome the obstacle that was set before me.

This past weekend, we also had some family come down from Missouri. My uncle, his wife, my cousin, and his wife were all here to spend some time with us. We had a lot of fun! We didn’t do a lot but we were able to get out and enjoy some ice cream and play a game which had us all laughing! Did I mention that my Nanny is back?! I am so glad to have her back to be with me during the days! Yesterday was a lot of fun as well. Nanny and I went to lunch with Will and his mom, then Emily and I went for a walk and I walked a whole mile :), then we got snow cones which were really good, then I had a great dinner with my family, and finally I watched the season finale of “The Bachelor” with Will’s mom Jennie! It was a very busy but fun day and luckily I felt pretty good!

Tomorrow is my fourth chemotherapy session and I am very much dreading it! I am going to try to take my nausea medicine before I even enter the room tomorrow and hope that helps but I’m not very optimistic about it. I continue to pray every day for God to give me the strength to endure this long journey. I wouldn’t be able to do it without my faith in Him and I am a walking testimony that He answers prayers.

I was reading in one of my devotion books the other day and the title was “Gratitude: For the Bad.” The scripture that went along with the devotion was Genesis 50:20 which states “As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil.” To me, this scripture means that Satan wanted this whole situation to be bad, but our great and wonderful God can take “bad” situations and turn them into good. As I was talking to a fellow Hodgkins Lymphoma survivor the other day, she reassured me that although this situation doesn’t seem good right now, that I will look back on it someday and be thankful for the experiences it gave me. My devotion was saying just that. It stated that when life throws you a curveball, you should catch it and then thank God for sending it your way.

I am already very thankful for all the blessings I have been given through all of this. As I previously stated, I am still running the race that God has set before me and my endurance seems to grow through all of you that have shown me Christ’s love. Once again I appreciate the prayers and would ask that you keep them coming for the days ahead. I will more than likely have another PET scan in the next couple of weeks to see if the cancer is gone. I am very anxious about this day but also know that God is in complete control. Elisabeth Elliot was quoted saying “When terrible things happen, there are two choices, and only two: We can trust God, or we can defy him. We believe that God is God, He’s still got the whole world in His hands and knows exactly what He’s doing, or we must believe that He is not God and that we are at the awful mercy of mere chance.” I will choose to believe that He knows exactly what He is doing πŸ™‚