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 ūüė¶ 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 ūüė¶

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 ¬†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 ¬†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? ūüôā

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. ūüė¶ 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 written a post 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 toast¬†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.¬†He told me to take a specific medication once every 12 hours and¬†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’t¬†feeling 100%¬†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 I¬†have plans¬†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 tomorrow¬†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! ūüôā

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!!

Pure Exhaustion

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Although the days have progressively gotten better since my treatment, I have still been really exhausted. It seems like I can barely wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, take my medications, and get dressed and then I am completely exhausted. I would say that trying to figure out which medications to take to balance my long list of symptoms has been the most difficult part.

Yesterday my family and I went to OKC to look for a wig. I can’t say that I was really looking forward to this adventure. Not only was I dreading the trip due to how exhausting it would be, but I also was nervous about picking out my future hair for the next 6 months. We had a list of about 4 different places to check out but luckily the first place we went had just what we were looking for. I found TWO wigs that I liked. Both of them were really close to my hair color and length. One was straight and the other had some curl to it. We got them both! We also picked out some hats and scarves that¬†are really soft and comfortable. We then went to Academy so that I could get some more sweats to wear since I am basically living in those right now. All in all it was a productive day!

The hardest part about yesterday was that my boyfriend’s nephew had a birthday party and most of his family would be attending. I love his family dearly and hardly ever miss a birthday party. However, I was told to stay away from small children after my treatments due to the sickness that they are likely to carry. This is so hard because I love¬†children, especially Will’s nieces and nephews. It was a difficult decision to make not to go, but I had to remind myself that this is only temporary and I had better do what’s best for my health.

Other than the exhaustion and fatigue, the only thing that has really been bothering me is some pretty intense jaw pain. I am not sure what is causing this but it makes it hard to eat and sometimes even have a conversation. Tylenol doesn’t seem to take care of it so I will have to call my doctor again tomorrow. Thankfully,¬†I seem to have the nausea under control for now.

My grandma (better known as “Nanny”), is on her way down here to stay with me for a whole month! I couldn’t be more excited! Her and I have been close ever since I was born. She watched me every day from the day my mom went back to work after having me until I was old enough to stay on my own. She is very special to me and I can’t imagine having anyone else here to spend these days with me other than her.

Since I had to take some time off school right now to finish my treatments, I don’t have a lot going on each day. Assuming I continue to feel better every day, my plan is to study for my board exam and take a walk every day. I¬†know it is¬†important¬†to keep my mind and body strong while going through all of this. I am sure Nanny will have many other things planned for us to do as well.

Once again I want to thank you all for your continued prayers, text messages, cards, and other messages of love you have given me these past few weeks. I ask for your continued prayers that I continue to get stronger each day so that I can be prepared for my next chemotherapy treatment on February 15. God is good and I know that he will continue to provide.

A friend of mine gave me a devotion book yesterday called “Jesus Calling.” I had recently heard of how great these devotions were but didn’t realize how much encouragement they can actually provide until I began reading it. The one I read this morning started out “Seek my face, and you will find not only My presence but My peace.” The focus of this passage was to let God be in control of your thoughts and He will¬†give you the peace you need. This is so important¬†when going through something like this because it is very easy to get down and think¬†negative thoughts.

I want to leave you with one of my favorite¬†scriptures that¬†I have been reading frequently¬†from Phillipians 4:6-7. It says “Be anxious for¬†nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to¬†God. And the peace¬†which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” God bless you all!

A Rude Awakening

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So nothing in my life had really changed before Tuesday. I always thought that if a person had cancer that they immediately felt bad. However, with Lymphoma you can either be Type A or Type B. Type A means that you really don’t have symptoms which is what I am. Type B means that you have night sweats, weight loss, and fatigue.

So until Tuesday I had felt pretty great! Tuesday was the day of my port placement. I went into it thinking it would be no big deal. I would get the port put in and go home and sleep the rest of the day and be fine. Boy was I wrong! We got to the hospital around 10:00a.m. and my surgery was scheduled for 12:00p.m. I was taken back to get prepared for surgery around 10:15 and from there we waited….and waited….and waited. I didn’t actually go into surgery until 2:00p.m. and to make matters worse, I was AWAKE most of the time! Oh and I didn’t mention that I hadn’t eaten anything since 7:30p.m. the night before! So the port was pretty painful and I was told not to shower for 2-3 weeks but that was not the worst part.

I got up Wednesday morning and went to see Dr. Armor and then following that had my first chemotherapy appointment.¬†I will start off with the good news for the day. The doctor told us that my bone marrow biopsy was negative which was a HUGE praise to God. He then said that my HIV test came back negative which I wasn’t really worried about but HIV does tend to be a cause of lymphoma so that was why they did the test in the first place. Lastly, he told us that my pulmonary function test was perfectly normal which meant that my lungs were healthy enough for chemotherapy. All of these things were very good news and we thank God for that!

I then went to chemotherapy and had the greatest nurse ever. Her name is Julie! She was so sweet and very informative on each drug that I would be receiving. I was given four drugs yesterday. I can’t tell you the names of them because they were really long and I really don’t remember. However, I do remember one of them which was called Adriomyacin (spelling?) because this is the one that will cause me to lose my hair in 10-15 days ūüė¶ I was lucky enough to have my mom, dad, Will, and my roommate Caitlin with me yesterday for chemo so most of the time we were laughing and having a good time. It wasn’t until the last drug that I started feeling dizzy and a little nauseous.

We went to Olive Garden after chemo because I was really craving their breadsticks. However, I soon realized that I didn’t have much of an appetite. We headed home after that and the night got progressively worse. Before all of this started I had heard so many good stories about patients not experiencing many side effects after chemo so I just assumed I would be like all of the others. Well, I was in for a rude awakening. I dealt with nausea and extreme exhaustion all evening and felt worse than I ever have before. At one point, I couldn’t even stand up due to not having any energy left in my body. That’s when I broke down in tears and just became scared.

Once I went to bed, things were a little better. I woke up this morning and forced myself to eat breakfast. I then spent the rest of the day with Will’s mom. The nausea wasn’t as bad but taking a bath was enough to wear me out for a few hours. I mostly layed around and read magazines and tried to drink my suggested 1 liter of water. I can’t complain because today hasn’t been as bad as yesterday and I can only hope and pray that it gets better by the day.

All in all, I know that¬†God is still good and is still watching over me every step of the way. Although I felt like I was at death’s doorstep last night, he stayed with me through the night and helped me to have enough energy to get out of bed this morning. No one said this was going to be easy. I guess I just have to take the good with the bad and be thankful for every little good minute I have been given.

The highlight of my day today was my best friend coming to visit me tonight! ūüôā She brought me a necklace that couldn’t describe my views on this any better. It has a charm with my Phillipians 4:13 scripture, a purple stone for Hodgkin Lymphoma’s color, the word HOPE which is what I will never give up on, and a pearl to remind me that with hair or no hair I will always be beautiful! She is wonderful and it’s people like her that make me want to keep on fighting. Thanks so much for the prayers!!

Here’s to an unexpected journey…

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I had been in Stillwater staying with my parents over the holidays for about 5 weeks. The first couple weeks were fast and furious with preparing for Christmas, going to Missouri for Christmas, and then New Years and Dad’s 50th birthday. Then, I ran out of things to do with my free time and let’s be honest, my days were filled with studying for my Board Exam which I am scheduled to take in July and planning my wedding (I am not engaged…yet)¬†on Pinterest.

I had started back to school for a two-week seminar at Langston and decided to stay home a couple more weeks before returning to OKC for my last clinical rotation. One night before bed I was feeling the muscles in my neck which seemed to be tight from sleeping in an uncomfortable position when I felt a lump on the front of my neck and to the left a little of my throat. I realized it was abnormal but just thought I would monitor it to see if it grew at all the next couple of days.

On Martin Luther King Day, I was out of school and decided it had been a week and the lump was still there so I should probably see a doctor. I went to the doctor and he took a full history and did a ear, nose, and throat exam but could find nothing wrong with me. However, he knew that the lump was abnormal so ordered for me to have an ultrasound the following morning.

Tuesday morning, January 17, I went in for an ultrasound. I thought this was going to be no big deal. I figured I would go in, they would tell me what was wrong, and I would head on to school for the day. Boy was I wrong! The radiologist read the ultrasound and said that he was going to call my doctor. From there I had a chest x-ray, reviewed that with my doctor, and then had a needle biopsy of the lymph node in my neck. The radiologist and my family doctor both told me that day that they thought I may have lymphoma but the biopsy would confirm my diagnosis in 24-48 hours. There were a lot of tears shed that day. The unknown is very scary and all we knew to do was get on our knees and pray.

Wednesday morning I went to school and then that evening some of my family came in from Missouri to be there while we endured this excruciating wait period. Thursday morning I had to give a presentation at school and came home after that to wait for some news. That afternoon I received a call from my doctor saying that the pathologists differed in opinion and so they were going to need to send it on to some specialists and we should know a final answer by Friday afternoon.

Friday afternoon came and the doctor called for us to come in and get the news. My whole family went with me and that day we learned that our wait period was going to be even longer. My doctor felt awful but explained to us that there wasn’t enough tissue to know 100% what the diagnosis was. He explained that the pathologist suspected that it was Hodgkins Lymphoma but just needed more of the lymph node to be sure. From there I was referred to Dr. Armor at Mercy Hospital in OKC. In a matter of a few hours, I had a lymph node biopsy scheduled for Monday morning, a PET scan on Tuesday afternoon, and an appointment with Dr. Armor, the oncologist, on Wednesday afternoon.

Last week went by very quickly with all the appointments back-to-back. By the time Wednesday afternoon got here we were exhausted and very anxious to know what was going on with me. Dr. Armor came in and nonchalantly started talking about the PET scan and the biopsy. My dad finally had to interrupt him and ask what the diagnosis was since we could hardly handle anymore anticipation. He then told us that I had Hodgkins Lymphoma. We began looking at the PET scan and it showed that several of the lymph nodes in my neck, under arms, and chest are affected. The good news is that since it is above my diaphragm it is only Stage II. Also, Hodgkins is very curable. Dr. Armor went on to say that I will need 6 months of chemotherapy and we will try to avoid radiation if at all possible. I will have chemotherapy every other Wednesday for 2-3 hours. That day in his office he also did a bone marrow biopsy to see if the cancer is in my bone marrow and blood tests.

The last couple of things that needed to be done before the whole treatment process begins was a Pulmonary Function Test to make sure my lungs are healthy for chemotherapy and a shot to “put my ovaries to sleep.” Dr. Armor stated that 50% of people receiving chemotherapy become infertile. However, he also told us that my odds are good since I am young and healthy. This shot that he suggested is to improve my chances of staying fertile by making my ovaries dormant for the time being. (Please pray this works because I really want children someday!)

The next step in the process is getting a port placed tomorrow morning. This will be placed in my chest so that they can administer chemotherapy through this each time. I will also have a couple more lab tests done as well. The following day is my first day of chemotherapy. While I am not sure what to expect yet, I have heard lots of positive stories. There is a good chance I may not get sick or tired at all.

I have been so richly blessed through all of this so far. First of all I have an amazing God who gave me a sense of peace about all of this the minute I asked for it. I have felt his presence more than I ever have before. He deserves all the glory and I trust that this is all part of his perfect plan. Secondly, I have the most amazing family and boyfriend. They have not left my side for one second and for that I am so grateful. They have been my rock when I needed anything at all and I love each of them dearly. Lastly, I have such an amazing group of friends and extended family. The text messages, flowers, cards, phone calls, scriptures, etc. have been overwhelming and I am so thankful. God definitley shows his love through the people he puts into your life.

Although I am nervous about the journey ahead, I have no doubt that God will be with me every step of the way. My cousin has been sending me scriptures that I try to repeat in my head when I get scared and the one that has stuck out to me the most is Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” I have faith that God is using me each and every day.