Sunday, December 19, 2010

New Treatment

I apologize for taking so long to update everyone on the results from my pathology reports.  So I have some praise reports and those are that the breast was not as diseased as the doctors feared, also the cancer is not in my skin which is pretty much the greastest thing ever!  After hearing all these good things I began to get mad thinking "did I let them take my breast for nothing?" .  However, I was reassured by the surgeon and my oncologist that I pretty  much had no other option besides a mastectomy because I had already had radiation to that side and so surgically removing it was what had to be done.  My oncologist now has me on a pill that works on my type of cancer in conjuction with my IV herceptin.  He is not recommending chemo at this time.....he said "In my business more is not always the best policy" and I could not agree more.  I am thankful for a doctor whose first reaction is not "CHEMO CHEMO CHEMO" but to actually look at other new studies and see what other options we have.  He has consulted with head of the breast center at Sloan Kettering in New York and the treatment recommended at this time is a drug called Tykerb.  While anything is better than chemo...the downfall of this pill that is I have to take it 5 times a day on an empty stomach. I am also experiencing nose bleeds with this pill like I did with chemo along with stomach issues and my prayer is that with God's healing power the nose bleeds and stomach problems will cease.   So if u combine that with the other medications I'm taking for sleep, hot flashes, and an estrogen blocking pill.....that comes to a grand total of 10 pills a day and 70 pills a week.  And to be honest its gotten a little depressing.  Like I told Dr. Briggs....I feel like I have some sort of horrible contagious disease........which is kind of do except its not contagious.  But I choose to press forward and manage to stomach all the pills down everyday.  The emotional scares that the mastectomy has left behind has obviously has not changed but with each passing day I am able to with stand it a little more.  The Jackson Pratt drain stitched into my side is the most annoying thing right now...I mean its always there and heaven forbid if u drop it......let's just say it ain't comin out but its takin u with it lol.  Once it drain less than 20 milliliters in 24/hrs I can get it out and it's slowly getting there.  But as they say patience is a virtue and God is teaching me that one day at a time. I will be honest with everyone I am frustrated and sometimes I burst out in tear for myself and all I feel like I have lost in such a short time and how mad I am that all this has happened.  But God has in his own loving and graceful way reminded me of all I have..........do I have cancer YES but is it killing me NO! Have I survived YES!  I may have scars but let's face it we all have scars whether those be internal or external and we all have battles and struggles that we are facing.  God has chanllenged me to think of that in my times of frustration and to remember that as I serve others in my job and day to day life.   He is also teaching me to understand that it's ok to mourn and grieve for myself.  If i can offer anyone out there any advice it's some that I shared with one of my favorite nurses Jennie this past week and that is this.....It's ok to admit that your weak...No one expects you to be strong all the time.....though it may seem like at times God doesn't understand believe me that he does....tell him how u feel he knows ur human and he knows u can't do it all alone that's why he's there....I have to remind myself that although he may sit at the right hand of God.....he was once human like me and with stood more pain and torture than I could ever imagine. While I know my battle is not over for now I choose to believe there is no more cancer in my body, there will be no more cancer in my body and I am healed. Day by day I know he is healing me.......though I may be weak he is strong and knows my heart.  Thank u for all the prayers, cards, gifts, good thoughts and vibes, etc.  I am undeserving of the love I have been shown and forever indebted to u all.  I only hope one day I can show all of u the love u have shown me in my darkest hour.  :)
Below is a picture of an awesome cookie bouquet I received :) Along with a few funny pic I've taken...I figure we could all use a little laughter.
FYI I was GI Jane for halloween...figured I'd play up the short hair while I have it lol



 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Post-Surgery Update

Ok just to update everyone on my surgery. It went well...well as good as it could lol.  The surgery took about an hour and a half.  The nurse blew my first vein and so had attempt a second vein and the other nurse couldn't spell the medication I was taking....always entertaining ha ha...I mean u gotta find something to laugh at :).  Before surgery was very difficult on me and I know those I love.....I had a hard time being calm enough to go back into surgery but luckily they have good drugs to aleviate my anxiety and keep me calm.  :)  My surgeon, Dr. Webber, did discover 2 new tumors,which would total 4 tumors,  that were not seen on the MRI on PET scan.  The tumors have to be sent to pathology to fully diagnose them as cancerous. And so with that I can say that I am very happy that I had the surgery sooner rather than later seeing as how there were new tumors that have grown in a 2 week period since my PET scan.  After surgery there was a small party going on in my room lol.  I had a big burst of energy that last for about 20 minutes and then I was out of energy lol.  I have received more flowers, cards, and love from everyone than I deserve.  As I sit here tears fill my eyes as I think of how loved and blessed I am to be surrounded by such wonderful friends and family.  The days after surgery have their ups and downs.  I am up and moving around and planning on returning to school tomorrow, god willing.  The down part of my day really comes with moving my arm.....the pulling and ripping feeling I experience is not so much fun but I know I have to keep my arm moving so I don't loose mobility in it.  As for my scars.....well at this moment they are more than I am able to talk about.  I can only say that at this moment the verse Rev. 21:5 "Behold I make all things new" is a verse that I cling to.  I long for the day when Jesus will come and make all things new and my scares will be no more but for now I am adjusting.  We have to wait about 5 days or so for pathology reports to come back and we are praying and hopeful for good reports :) For all the prayers, encouragement, cards, flowers, etc that I have received THANK YOU.....I am undeserving and amazed at the love I have felt. :) Here are some fun pics we took before, during, and after surgery. :)


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Surgery 102......The Next Step in Life's New Journey

So the Surgery Date has been set for 10 am tomorrow  at Baptist West. I know I'm just now posting a blog the DAY BEFORE surgery but that's because I just scheduled it on Monday.  I obviously don't want to have the surgery and my head knows that its just trying to convince my heart that its something I have to do.  I have struggled with it for almost a week and I knew that if I waited 3 more weeks till school was over I was giving the cancer 3 more opportune weeks to do or go where ever else it wanted to.  As hard as my decision was (it actually wasn't even a decision it was just actualy scheduling the surgery that was tough) I know that I have not choice and I can't be stupid or play games when it comes to cancer.  I am blessed enough to have friends who have called, texted, emailed, sent presents, cards etc. to me and just really listened to my fears about the whole situation.  I wish I had enough money to pay everyone back for all they've meant to me but even then it still wouldn't show my gratitude and thankfullness for all of u.  Though the road before me is uncertain I still choose to praise god through this storm and say blessed be the name of the Lord....I know he's with me through it all.
Here's a pic of me and few friends having a pre-surgery celebration.......I am so blessed. :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Life's New Journey......

In my last past I told u a small summary of what had been going on with me but I need to update everyone on the rest of the story.  I apologize I haven't posted this sooner but the truth is I wish I had better news.....and telling people has been difficult for me.  On the day I found out about my brother I also found a lump on my right side (which is the side my original breast cancer was on).  I, of course, began freaking out and called the doctor and went in for an appointment 2 days later.  But after my oncologist checked it out and determined it was definitely a new lump he sent me back to my surgeon who had me get it biopsied.   The next day I got a call from the radiologist saying that it was in fact a new case of cancer.  This came not only as a shock to me but to the doctors as well considering the fact that I'm still on active treatment of herceptin every 3 weeks and I just had a clear mammogram and ultrasound 2 weeks ago and so was confident that this was just a inflammation from my scars from the last surgery .  My amazing oncologist Dr. Briggs had it tested and determined that while my last cancer was ER +  and Her 2 New +..........this new cancer is ER-  and Her 2 New +.  Well the problem with that is that I'm on herceptin which should prevent any new Her 2 New positive cancer from growing which obviously its not doing. Just a little back ground for those who may not know.....Her 2 New is a receptor specific to breast cancer and Herceptin is the newest and best drug marketed to treat it.  
 Dr. Briggs said he had never seen someone have a re-occurence of cancer which still on herceptin.....so of course like any normal person I"m at this point feeling like a "statistic".  However, he reassured me that I am not a statistic and we are gonna do what is needed to try and fix this.  I also had an MRI done of my chest and the cancer did not show up on the MRI...which means that cancer isn't acting like "cancer", which is obviously a problem. 
The next and biggest problem to us is that my right side has been swollen for almost 2 months from lymphedema....so much so that all I've been able to wear are compression tops, it was the site of my last cancer, and now its the site for the new cancer.
My oncologist gave me all of this information so that of course I would be informed but also because his recommendation that we feel is gonna be the safest thing for me to do is a right sided masectomy.  As he said those words to me I felt like I'd be hit with a ten-ton of bricks.   It was obvious that as hard as that was for me to hear.........it was also difficult for my oncologist to tell me.  Through his watery eyes you could truly see a man who cared......a doctor who I wish everyone had. He asked me "Do you feel safe leaving the breast on".........and the truth is No I don't but I'm terried at the thought of having a masectomy. He sat with me and my amazing friend Heather for almost 2 hours and let us ask questions and just think about what all he had said....I am so truly thankful for my amazing doctor.  Yes women have masectomies done everyday and to some its not big deal but to me its like loosing a part of me and I can't explain the grief associated with it. 
After waiting for almost a week for prior approval I had a PET scan to test to see if the cancer has metastasized any where else in my body which PRAISE THE LORD it has not.  But another new tumor was seen, which mean that there is a total of 2 new tumors on my right side that have appeared in less than 30 days.  So needless to say he wants the surgery done ASAP....like possibly next week.  Also, a new round of chemotherapy is dependent on the fact of how infected the breast is with cancer once its removed and biopsied.  There's the possibility that it might not be full of disease but I'd be risking alot to keep it and take the chance that it is.  The thought of chemo is one I can't really explain either.......I'll just keep it simple by saying It's a scary thought and those who have gone through it or been with someone whose gone through it know what I mean.
While a masectomy "sucks"......it still isnt' the worst that could happen and I'm thankful for all the doctors that have taken care of me up until this point.  You don't find alot of doctors that will call you from their cell phone to tell you your results on just sit with you in silence........for that I am beyond thankful.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't upset, mad, angry, confused and so many other words. But I also still trust in a God that I know has my best interests at heart and knows and understands my pains and fears, a God who is my healer.  It's in him alone that I trust during this uncertain time. 
Trusting in His Grace Alone,
Sarah

Two Angels Above

There are many times in the past week or so that I have wished I were 5 years old again and my biggest worry was who was gonna play with me at play time.  But unfortunately we all must grow up and sometimes as I'm sure many people know we have things happen that we don't understand.....we don't see how the God we believe in could be involved in any way in the sadness we all have experienced at some time or another.  For the past 2 weeks these have been just a few of my thoughts and questions.   About 2 weeks ago I received a call saying that my oldest brother Brett had passed away....there aren't really any words I can use to express my grief or how my heart breaks thinking of the wife and 3 children he left behind.  I love the picture of my dad, me, mark (left), brett (right), and brittany.  It was taken almost 7 years ago on father's day in Cade's Cove....dad was soo excited to have us all together as
you can see by the smile on his face.  A story about my brother that I never get tired of telling is when we all were together at the hospice center in Nashville during Dad's last days with us.  We were all going to eat when I asked if we had everyone to which Brett replied "Everyone but Tator".  "Tator"? I said.....u talkin about Channing....brett replied "That's a Big Tator" lol.  Brett was witty and full of humor and once you got him goin it was all laughs.  At his funeral a young man Thomas, a young man Brett and his wife adopted, got up to talk about my brother and read a letter he had written to him. It had to be one of the most power funeral speeches I have ever heard.  Thomas told of never having a father figure around and how he had been to 5 high school in just the 4 short years high school lasts.  He told of how Brett brought him to Thanksgiving with the family, moved him into his home and made him apart of the family, and then helped him enroll at college at ETSU.  It was a powerful speech and I said whenever my time comes to go home to my heavenly father and just one person can get up and tell a story about how I impacted their life like Thomas told about how Brett forever changed his life..........then it would all be worth it.  How proud I am of my brother and the impact he made on the world and on the lives of many before he went home.  He had suffered and been sick for a while, as my father was before he passed away.  And while my heart breaks that he's gone it rejoices that he is no longer hurting.  I miss him and my dad more than any words I type could ever express. I'd be lying if I said I didn't question God or ask him why he'd taken two amazing men in my life.....why he had to have them RIGHT NOW....why he just couldn't wait.  And he reminds me with his gracious love that his thoughts are not my thoughts....nor his ways my ways.  I can't begin to understand his thinking but I have faith that it's all working together for my good.  A picture that always makes me smile is when I imagine dad and Brett seeing each other again for the first time in so long and embracing and watching us all together from heaven.  Now we have 2 guardian angels watching over us.....God bless my two brave men...I miss them so :)




Monday, October 11, 2010

One Inspiring Boy

Here is some inspiration for those of you who may need some today. I came across this story of a young boy who won "China's Got Talent" show. He was involved in an electical accident when he was 10 where he lost both arms and what you will see I hope will show you no matter what your situation God can use you and he has a plan for you. :) I know some of the video is in chinese but if you can just wait till he starts playing the piano and singing I promise you will not be un-impressed or un-inspired. Hope you enjoy this and it adds a little sunshine to your day.
Grateful for Each New Days He Gives,
Sarah :)





Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"What Love Really Means"

Just a little video I felt led to share...hope it encourages you today as it did me :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

From Treatment to Therapy......

So here's a little update on my actual condition: 
I still receive my Herceptin treatment via IV every 3 weeks.  Its not bad at all....I'm tired afterwards but my hair is coming back and it doesn't mess with my stomach like the chemotherapy did and for that I'm every so thankful.  Here's a pic from my last treatment....I got bored and Jenny found a mask which I used for my latest character......CHEMO BANDIT!!! lol I also included pictures of me and my nurse Jenny acting Goofy at treatment.  And me and my friend Kat who was nice enough to go with me to my radiation and treatment one day.  We realized the best thing about treatment is.....the FREE FOOOD!!! :)






On another note I've been dealing with a slight case of lymphodema that developed in my arm a while back.  I was able to purchase a compression sleeve and luckily it removed the little bit of fluid that had accumulated in my arm.  However, the real problem began about a month ago after returning from my trip to Colorado.  I noticed that my right side was no longer fitting into my bras and had become red, inflammed, and painful.  I let Dr. Briggs look at it and he told me that it wasn't a  blood clot (great....not really what I was thinking but I'm glad its not one lol) and he didn't think it was infected.  He said it looked like the fluid from my arm had not accumulated into my right side and that was the reason for the swelling.  2 days later I went back to Marino Therapy Center for a few manual drainage sessions.  You see when you have lymphedema its kind of like a sewer system that back up where ever your lymph nodes used to be.  You dont' have that drainage system to help your body empty out the bad stuff like it once did.  The fluid goes into your capillaries which makes it impossible to remove the fluid with a needle.  You have to do different massage techniques to actually move the fluid back into the lymph capillaries that you still have in other parts of your body.  It's actually quite impressive how your body adjusts when you take part of it away.  Once you have been cut on as many people know you form scare tissue and for me it means that my arm is contracted every morning when I wake up....almost like I've been lifting weights.  This just means I have to do regular stretching everyday to keep it stretched out and I do drainage techniques I have been taught that will help keep the fluid moving. 
So about 1 week after my first few appointments with the therapy center I woke up to even more swelling and pain on my right side.......so now it was pretty obvious I had an infection.  I started on antibiotics and 48 hours after beginning them I awoke with alot of difficulty swallowing.  Breathing was not a problem but swallowing was very difficult to do.  After calling the doctor they determined I was having a reaction to the antibiotic and within an hour of getting the steroid pack I could feel the swelling in my throat go down.  Whewwww....so that wasn't so much fun but the good news is the infection is gone but the swelling is another story.  I am going about 2 times a week for therapy and wearing a sports bra and tank top made of almost 50 percent spandex.  You see the more pressure is applied to the area the better it helps remove the swelling.  So we will see if this removes the swelling in a few weeks.  If not there are other options but right now I'm praying this works....I'm just feeling a little lop-sided these days lol.  Here the best pic I have of what my sleeve looks like....even though I have my eyes closed you can see my pink arm ha ha. 
Thanking God for Each New Day,
Sarah :)


Just two little stories

Well I wanted to share two stories with everyone the first is a funny story from class. The other day the teacher came in and announced that we would be taking our school picture Ids that after noon. Of course all the girls started freaking out because their hair wasn't done. I mean I usually wear hats to class and a few people know that its b/c I've had cancer....so I didn't really make any comments when every one started complaining about their hair. Then without thinking I let myself slip.......a girl sitting next to me takes her hair out of her pony tail and says "I haven't even had time to brush my hair this morning...its a mess" to which I said "Me with either.....dang my hair is messed up". Everyone burst out laughing and then there was an awkward silence. "Sorry didn't mean to make anybody feel bad I said...I"m just sayin...its just hair". In fear that I had just committed social suicide lol I did make sure the girls knew I was just making a joke and wasn't made of tryin to make anyone feel bad.And really my whole point in saying that was not for sympathy....it was just for girls to realize that hair is just that....HAIR!! And I hate that I've had to loose my to see that but even now that its coming back I can be honest and admit its still hard not to want to wear hats still cause my hair isn't long and flowing like all the other girls...but I'm slowly adjusting. :)



My second story is rather a hard one to tell but one I think I need to share. This week at work I got some devastating news from a customer and friend of mine. The woman I speak of we'll call "Jo" and she has been coming to the pharmacy almost as long as I've been there. We really got to know each other when I took a special interest in helping making sure her mother got the cheapest medications possible cause she was on medicare and couldn't afford many of her meds. Then right after I got diagnosed Jo was also diagnosed with brain cancer. She had tried many different chemo treatments and I was aware of the fact the doctors did not have much more they said they could do if these next chemo treatments she was getting did not shrink her tumors. So tuesday when I went into work and saw her sitting on the bench waiting on a script I went out to talk to her. She told me about her recent surgery and how they scrapeed some of the tumor off and relieved the pressure on her brain. She looked really great for having that kind of surgery and so I asked what they were gonna do now. She revealed to me an answer no one wants to hear. The surgery was all she had left and all they were doing now was keeping her comfortable.......the cancer had moved into spinal cord and was also on her brain stem...they told her she has only 6 to 8 months to live. And with those words my eyes filled up with tears as I reached out to hug her. Our embrace was not that of two strangers who only talked across the counter but now of two women who understood each other.....all I wanted to do was fix it and it was very apparent nothing I said or did was gonna change her prognosis and so all I had to give at that moment was a hug of love and of compassion. I dont' know if you've ever experienced talking to someone who has no more options.... There are simply no words......as there were for me...only tears because I knew there was nothing at that moment I could say. Jo looked at me and told me (the one who was gonna make it and be okay) that I didnt' need to cry she was too mean to die anyways lol. In her time of need she was thinking of me and of course that made me cry more.

So here we are middle of walmart on the bench with two lines of people waiting to get perscriptions and I am boo hooing like a baby. I got myself together and told her I would do whatever I could to help her. She takes care of her ailing mother and expressed concern over what would happen to her once she's gone......and of course I cried again at the thought of how I would feel if I were dying and there was no one to take care of my mother.


How do u talk to someone whose dying....I struggle to find the words. I know you can't put God in a box...but I would be lying to you if I told you it didn't make me mad that Jo's time here on earth may be done soon and that I haven't prayed and questioned God as to why some people who are mean and dont' care about anyone but them selves get to live and others who only think about others have to die too soon. I trust in God but my flesh makes me want to rely on myself instead of him. It makes me want things my way...instead of trusting in his good and perfect timing. And it makes me want to know "Why?" right now......not later but now....it makes me want it in my time...not his.

For Jo I want more time for her and want no suffering for her in whatever time she has left. I am making steps to help make this happen. People complain about the most trivial things in life and I know I'm just as guilty.....they don't feel good today....they feel fat.... their stressed over their wedding, job, pregnancy, etc......their hair looks bad.....they feel tired. I dont' say those things to call anyone out but to really put it all down on a level that will make you think.


I challenge you as I have myself to really think next time before you complain or get mad about anything. Think about whether what your mad about is really gonna matter when its all said and done. Think about how much you have to be thankful for...particularly the fact that you get to live another day. Life is so short and I feel like we all take it for granted and I hate that we have to see others struggle before we realize the blessings we have.   Here's a little video that really speaks to me in times like these when I don't understand things and it helps me remember God's still with us :)


School and Such

I've debated for a while whether to try and tell the story of what happened with me and school on my blog.  And I've gone back and forth with it about whether it really comes into play with my cancer but after alot of thought and after it has continued to play out into the treatment I have decided to share the story.  My hope is that everyone reads this and 1.)Never treats anyone one the way I was treated and 2.)  Learns what I learned all too late:  there are many people in the world who don't care about anyone but themselves and sometimes especially in programs like nursing you have to watch out for you and you alone because when it comes down to it the teachers really dont' care how much you care about the patients or how great of a nurse you are.....its all about numbers and the bottom line.  But don't mistake the fact that while you do need to watch out for yourself it should never get in the way of helping others.
So here goes
Last Year as many know on May 25, 2009 my father passed away from leukemia.  What you may not know is that I was enrolled at the time at Lincoln Memorial University here in knoxville and I was taking the OB class that summer and was scheduled to gratuate the following december.  3 weeks into the class was when I got the call that the hospital that dad was in major organ failure and the hospital had done all they could for my father and they were releasing him into hospice that day.  He last about 72 hours before passing away. After wards we had to plan the whole funeral and deal with everything that comes along with loosing a parent all while trying to pass my OB class.  By the time the class was over I was struggling with my dad's death and was having hard time studying and missed the 80 I needed in the class by 0.6 points.  I had re-taken a class when I first started the program but was taking one class at a time to make sure I wasn't putting too much on myself while trying to do school and work and to assure my success in the program.  I met with my teacher who initially acted like she wanted to help me only to say in the end "Maybe you need to do some soul searching"....my response was "I dont' need to search any where my father died....that's what happened".
I then met with the Dean of LMU's  nursing program,  Mary Ann Modercin, who told me that "Sometimes things happen to people like they get cancer and they don't pass our program and I really hate it for them but there's nothing I can do" and when I told her that the only reason I didn't pass was because my father suddenly died she responded with "Well also sometimes things happen to people that they consider important like their dog dies and they don't make it either.....and once again there's nothing I can do".  Now don't think I didn't respond and question the woman on the fact that she just compared my father's death to a dog dying and it was at that point she tried  to take back what she said and told me I misunderstood her. 
   My next step was the president of the school who was a very nice man and obviously wanted to help me.  However, I knew the problem would arise once he met with the dean.  It ended up I had send him a copy of my father's obituary to prove that my father actually died after the class began because the dean told him that he died before the class began.  After weeks of giving him all the information he requested I was told that he met with the dean and my teacher and they were not willing to help me because they were afraid I wouldn't pass the class if I tried to retake it, which I knew was just an excuse they were making because it was pretty clear from their words and actions before they could care less what happened to me.  The whole reason all this happened was because I was blind-sided by the death of my father.....if I had known that things were gonna go so down hill for him I never would have taken that class.  Well needless to say I was depressed and awstruck about the whole situation.  One semester from getting my RN and now I am forced to begin again.
Here I am tryin to finish my fight with cancer and I"m faced with a few heartless women and a program who is supposed to teach students to care for patients but have no compassion for the students they are trying to teach this too.  I knew I only had a few options because once your in one nursing program....no other program in the state will look at you, though I should add the dean did tell me I could pack my things and go to another state and try there.  So after much prayer I decided to step down a notch and enter a 12 month LPN program. When I graduate in August I will be allowed to redo my last year in the nursing program and get my BSN.  Depressing, heartbreaking, failure are just a few words I can use to describe how I've felt.  Having to re-explain multiple times the heartbreak and pain of my father's death tore me down to my very core. And I wondered what God's plan could potentially be for me in all of this.  I can honestly say I hope no one ever treats these women like they have done me if they ever experience anything like what I have.
A good friend told me to remember that God puts us where he needs us to work and that I needed to remember to not look at this program as just LPN but to look around my class and look for those people who are interested in knowing my story and what I have been through and in that process I can share my faith with them and they can hear how God is working in my life and how amazing he truly is.  That really moved me and has helped me not to feel sorry for myself and to see the good that can come out of all of this.  He told me that his old coach used to tell him "God honors hard work" and I believe that too. I know what your thinking that guy's got some pretty good advice.....so I of course had to share it on here...sometimes it takes another person's point of view to really help you see the other side of things.   I know other people have worse situations but people's feelings of failure are something that is universal and something we have all felt.
I chose to go back to school even though I'm still in active treatment with Herceptin because I wanna live while I"m here.  I wanna be able to say I did more with my life than survive cancer and if your a survivor you can understand what I mean.  Many times it seems like everything in my life revolves around cancer and it can be so depressing at times.




I started back school on September 1st and I work 4 nights a week and go to school 8 to 3 everyday. I can honestly say I'm exhausted but I feel better now than every because I feel like I'm taking some of my life back.  Another friend of mine had a quote that I just love
 " I'm reaping the harvest God promised me, taking back what the devil stole from me." 
 That's what I'm trying to do.  I dont' want sympathy for my situation I just want people who are in worse situations or feel depressed like they are in a rut that  they feel like they can't get out of....there is hope.  People are always going to disappoint you and many times as I have seen shock you with their lack of compassion.  Its only human nature to think only of ourselves and not of others.  But I'm reminded how God is the perfect example of how we should be...he thought only of US when he came down to die and suffer for us and our sins. 
Many times I sit and class and I can feel satan's hand come over me and tell me what a failure I am as I sit and re-do eveyrthing I've already done....how stupid I must be for not passing one simple class by 0.6. One semester from graduating and here I sit starting at the beginning. I do not know everyone's problems that may read this blog but I do know that there are many stuggling with the pain of feeling like a failure like I do.  But I want to tell you....dont' listen to that voice.  God has a plan for you even though you might not be able to see it right now.  I'll keep you up to date on how this new journey God has me on is going....I know he wouldn't give me more than I can handle and he wouldn't lead me down a road that he wasn't walking with me on.  I also found a video that I found went right along with this post.  It's about a young woman who is an abortion survivor....it's an amazing story......and it made me realize that God really does have a plan for everyone....even the tinny little babies.  Watch the amazing story and consider the things in your life where your not sure how God can use you or what your purpose in life is.  After watching this I hope you'll see that everyone including yourself has a plan for their lives.....God's always had a great plan for your life. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Finishing Radiation

Well I know I am officially a slacker.  Seems like life has gone into fast forward these past few months.  So I finished radiation June 28.  Which was actually a day earlier than I thought I was gonna finish so that was awesome.  I did however get extremely burned my last week of radiation but as far as fatigue goes I can't really complain about it.  The people at radiation were amazing and always in a good mood.  I don't know that there enough words for the nurses and doctors that work in oncology offices.  To me they are angels and I am sooo thank ful for them. You'd think when I was done with radiation that I'd be over whelmed with joy and dont' get me wrong I mean I was happy but after leaving radiation for the last time my emotions got the best of me and I broke down in the car.  Radiation was pretty much a cake walk compared to chemo....well actually any thing is a cake walk compared to chemo lol.  So to celebrate I went out to eat (and yes u guessed it we ate SUSHI!! lol)  and celebrate with a few close friends which was awesome. 
It's funny how God puts people in your life at just the right time and just when you need him.  He truly is an all knowing and understanding God.  Here's a pic of me on my last radiation day....not that great of a picture of me but I just love the staff at Dr. Patel's....they are amazing :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

There Once Was a Girl..........

There was
a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind. She
hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She told her boyfriend, 'If I could only see
the world, I will marry you.'


One day,
someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages
came off, she was able to see everything, including her
boyfriend.






He asked
her,'Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?' The
girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind. The
sight of his closed eyelids shocked her. She hadn't expected
that. The thought of looking at them the rest of her life
led her to refuse to marry him.




Her boyfriend left in tears and days later wrote a note to her
saying: 'Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before
they were yours, they were mine.'






This is how the human brain often works when our status changes. Only a very few remember what life was like before, and who was always by their side in the most painful situations.






Life Is a Gift




Today before you say an unkind word - Think of someone who can't speak.






Before you complain about the taste of your food - Think of someone who has nothing to eat..




Before you complain about your husband or wife - Think of someone who's crying out to GOD for a companion.




Today before you complain about life - Think of someone who went too early to heaven..




Before whining about the distance you drive Think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet.





And when you are tired and complain about your job - Think of the unemployed, the disabled, and those who wish they had your
job..




And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down - Put a smile on your face and think: you're alive and still
around.. :)









Sunday, June 27, 2010

Relay for Life 2010

I went down friday to check out Relay for Life because I had never been to one before and it was AWESOME!  I hope next year we can have a team and stay all night because I think it would be awesome.  They announced our names and we all got medals and a free T-shirt.  Everyone might not feel like me....but I'm just sayin after getting a medal I'd say all this cancer stuff has been worth it.....ha ha lol j/k. The picture to the above here is of my awesome friend Jenny, Me, and Stefanie :)   But any ways I was smart enough this time to remember my camera takes video so here's some pics and a video of the Survivor's Ceremony :)



                                          And then there's me and my awesome medal! lol
Below is me and my friend Latoya :)
Just Me and Stefanie...I am truly blessed to have met her :)


My 15 Minutes of Fame :)

A few weeks ago my mom and I went to the Smokies Baseball game.  I had never been before and it was Pink Ribbon Night....so I thought what a perfect time to go!  They said they were having something special for the survivors before the game started. I signed up at the survivors table and was informed that they were taking us all on the field.  Now I was thinking maybe I might get a T-shirt....and for those of you that know me you know getting in front of people is not my thing.  So I politely told the lady that "Oh I don't have to go on the field."  She told me all the survivors were gonna go onto the field and that I shouldn't be nervous it wouldn't be bad.  So just like he always does God gave me exactly what I needed because it was no more than 2 seconds later I felt a tab on my shoulder. And who else would it be but my friend Rhonda from my young survivor group.
  All my nerves were eased at that moment when I realized there was someone else I knew there........u know everything goes better with a friend and Rhonda pretty  much rocks so it was perfect....God always had perfect timing!  So here we all go onto the field.....next thing I know here comes the Smokies Baseball Team with pink roses in their hands along with some hugs to go with it ;)  We all get an applause and then the lady in charge asks me if I want to throw the first pitch of the game. "I was like no I'm ok".  But then it occurs to me "How many times am I gonna get to throw the 1st pitch at the smokies game??" So here I go out to throw the pitch and the announcer says my name and that I'm a survivor and as he said that something happened that I wish I had on video.......the crowd stood up and clapped for me! WOW....a standing ovation...now there's something I'll probably never see again. 
 Needless to say....I began to cry there in the middle of Smokie's Stadium.....but let me now say this:  The standing ovation I received was not just for me but all survivors....for those who have and are still fighting the battle against breast cancer.  I truly wish they all could have stood out there with me when I received the standing ovation because it wasn't just for me....it was for US ALL!!! :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Radiation 101

Well I figure its time I update everyone on the next step I'm taking in my journey. I started radiation about a week and a half ago. The doctor let a few weeks go by between my last chemo and radiation because he wanted me to have some time to recuperate. I went in for my first pre-op day, which is where they situate you on a table in the same position you'll be in every time you come and they begin to "draw"...LITERALLY!!! The "drawings" are so they will know where exactly the radiation will hit you, they said they dont' wanna hit my lung.....yea that would be great if you could avoid that!! lol. However, they have told me there is no way to totally avoid hitting my lung completely and that if I ever have any scans done a part of my lung will look different and that's "normal". So here I am laying on this table and they begin drawing all over me. Next thing I know they got a camera in my face....and its my time to shine lol. Upon seeing the camera I say "You guys gonna send these pictures to playboy" lol.....of course I was kidding but it broke the ice and made everyone laugh. Next thing I know they tell me some therapist man is coming in to check the "drawings". "Hello" I say, of course let me put in here I'm unable to move at this point and I've never met this guy until now. So I"m like "Guess we're on more than speaking terms now".....lol. I mean I feel like if I can't laugh I'll never get through it. I call my port "Annie the Alien" and now that I have all these marking on my chest my friend Miranda told me its Annie trying to communicate with her home planet lol.
So after drawing up a plan for me that includes physics and a whole bunch of other stuff I dont' understand I started the real radiation about a week and a half ago. Besides the fact that my chest looks like a kid has drawn on me everything seems to be going well.  Below is a pic I took of myself after my 1st "drawing".

Just like my hair being gone I am adjusting to the looks from the red markings on my chest because they are almost impossible to hide in most of my clothing. It's so crazy how much I realize how much I care about what other people think or how they are looking at me. I've gotten better and to the point now that I wear a tank top if its hot and if people look then they do, it doesn't mean I'm a freak its just not something you see everyday and if I were them heck I might look too....I might not STARE but I'd probably look...it's just human nature.  I had a lady at work ask me what happened to my chest one day, to which I replied....."I had open heart surgery yesterday"........"Gasp".....I told her I was kidding but they look on her face was priceless LOL.  Heck I'd rather someone just ask me.....it almost helps me to deal better with it sometimes if I can just openly talk about it. I expect the exhaustion to come but I"m enjoying the time I have of feeling "normal" again....if there really is a true "normal". It was weird not having to go to chemo last week.....I almost felt like something was missing but they I'm not gonna beg for more if you know what I mean. I thank God for my good days and for all the friends and support I still have. I find I love God more and more everyday and I'm so thankful for things I used to take for granted.  I'm looking forward now hand in hand with a God who has held me through it all. :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Healing is in His Hands

I heard this song this morning at church and it moved me to tears about the healing powers of our lord Jesus who has healed me :) and I just had to share it with you all...hope u enjoy


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jack Black "Breast Cancer Awareness" Video

Here is the hillarious Breast Cancer Awareness Video that Jack Black did.  I watched it yesterday at treatment and was so excited when I  found the link to it.....


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Out of the Darkness and Into the Light....I'M DONE WITH CHEMO!!!

So I am officially FINISHED WITH CHEMO!!! WHOOP WHOOP!!  I went last wednesday for my last chemo treatment and the day was very different than how I imagined it would be 4 months ago when I started on this journey.  The idea of being "done" with chemo is one that is surprisingly scary to me.  When the words "You have cancer" were uttered to me back in november my whole world changed, in fact it broke.  I was forced to look at my own mortality and let's face it that's not something very many 24 year olds do.  Now almost 6 months after my diagnosis I feel as if I've always had cancer...I've always been bald.  Sometimes I find it hard to remember my life before this. 
I remember after being diagnosed how hard it was to utter the words "I have cancer" to those closest to me.  Now it almost comes natural to tell people "I have cancer" or "I have been undergoing chemo".  I've become "The Girl With Cancer" and now it kind of scary to think of not being that girl anymore.  I know to some this sounds crazy but if you've been through it then I think you can relate.  I pray that God will help me use this experience to continue helping and encouraging other people.  Though I am done with chemo I am still without hair and I believe as it comes back it represents the restoration and recovery that is going on inside of me.  It only took a short time for me to enter this journey and I know it will take time before I am truly recovered.  Although as my strength comes back sometimes I wanna run as fast and as long and I can smiling and screaming all the way, praising God that I am threw with chemo and that I can move on with my life. 
On my last chemo day two of my biggest fans were with me, My mom and Step-mom.  I am also lucky enough to have the world's greatest doctor (Dr. England) show up with flowers and food to congratulate me on my big day.  I am beyond blessed to have him as my doctor and to have met his amazing wife.  The have been two angels to me through all of this.  You don't find many doctors today with the heart and compassion Dr. England has and I feel blessed that he is not only my doctor but my friend. :) I know that the devil wanted to take all this and use it to bring me down, but I refuse to let that happen.  And yes I"ll admit I have my days.  But chemo has taught me so much, I am stronger now....wiser I suppose you could say.  Part of me feels older even thoug only a few months have passed since I first started therapy...it seems sometimes that I've lived a lifetime.  I thank God for getting me through and know that he will guide me in the road ahead. Thank you to everyone for all the continued support and pray...now onto the next step in my journey...RADIATION!!!
Psalm 28:7
" The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and I am helped"

Monday, May 10, 2010

I am Yours

First off, let me apologize if this post if kind of long but I wanted to share a story. :) So last week I found myself in a situation I thought I had long gotten over. It all started when I was out today shopping around for some mother's day things. It was a beautiful day and so of course people would be out just as I was enjoying it. I was wearing a hat with no scarf underneath and was feeling pretty good about everything. However, almost immediately upon seeing the crowds of people my entire body froze in my car. I began looking at myself in the mirror and became so self conscious of how I looked that it almost brought me to tears. I ended up sitting in my car for 10 minutes waiting for the crowd to leave before I felt strong enough to exit my car, I know I know I'm pitiful. Many times I don't wear just a head scarf out for the shear fact that I know with just a hat it's not as obvious that I have no hair. But today I had a hat on but I was over whelmed with the feeling that people were staring at me and I know that not that many people are staring at me and that I'm probably just over doing it but I still many times, like today feel like that. In fact I don't think its actually the fact that people are actually looking at me because I look weird, its the fact that I don't look like everyone else. My eye lashes are still in tack but I have few eye brows left and usually try and draw them on. I have many times stood in front of the mirror and cryed at the image I see. It's not me, I dont' have my hair and its over whelming at how much that can take from you. But it makes me look at who am I really, I am not my hair, I"m not my long eye lashes, I"m not my eyebrows, or my chest. I am not defined by any of these but yet I feel as if it keeps me trapped unable to escape. I find myself not wanting to go into places like restaurants and the mall with my friends (who may I add have been amazing and so wonderful in encouraging me through this whole thing.) because I feel like the odd ball of the group. Before we go in any where everyone fixes their hair and I find myself jealous many times of them and I know that's wrong....I miss my hair and how much comfort I never realized until now that it brought me. I know that sounds so crazy and probably stupid to many but its the power cancer can have over you when you let it. Its so easy to let this disease take so much more than your hair, your energy, or your health from you, It can take your hope if you let it. Its hard to explain the anxiety of not looking like everyone else. I feel at time like the 16 year old girl I once was, who was always worried about what I looked like, constantly brushing my hair and looking in the mirror. Now that seems so petty to me, for its not about looks though many times we dont' even realize how much emphasis we put on how we look.


After all this I was reading my bible and came to


Psalm 139: 13 "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb". and


Psalm 139:15 "You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb"


I tell myself God knows everything about me. He knows all the hairs that were once on my head and he knows all the ones that will be once my hair is back. He sees my heart, my struggles, and my pain. And I know he knows and is always reminding me that I am his. I am still beautiful though by the world's standards I may not be but I am wonderfully and perfectly made in his image. My struggle is that it is hard to tell myself and make myself believe, especially as a 25 year old woman.


I feel after everything that I am stronger now than I was at the beginning of this but I still struggle. I still want God to talk to me, right now on my time, give me answers, make this all go away. But through all of this I am learning patience because you see I'm not on my time but his. And I, like so many others forget that sometimes. I've had people tell me that I'm so "strong" but let me tell you I dont' feel strong many times. But if that's how it seems I want everyone to know its because of my trust in a God that never fails and my faith in knowing he is always there. You see I know in the end hair or no hair, in sickness, through it all....I am his. :)



Thursday, May 6, 2010

Chemo #5

So this last week after my chemo has been a rough one. I have always had a problem with stomach cramps ever since I began chemo. The pain can become so bad at time the only thing I can do it rock myself back and forth and pray for it to be over. Last week was almost like the pain reached its peak. At about 12 am in pain I decided to call the MD who told me to take some lortab and pretty much knock myself out. I found myself running through the options of what was "really wrong" in my head. Perhaps I had stomach cancer and they hadn't found it yet. When my back began to spams I thought I had cancer in my back. Oh how satan can attack you at your most down and out times. At the time I didn't see it but looking back now I can clearly see how its a perfect time for satan to attack me and get me into the "sickness" mindset. Well I have something to say...."MY GOD IS BIGGER THAN ANY PAIN I MAY HAVE." Now dont' let me get you thinkin that while hurled over in pain I smilin thinkin how great God is. I can admit that that has never happened and that I am just as human as any one else. I know we all have hard times but I want everyone to know that its only temporary. I wonder at times, like I'm sure so many people do, why am I going through this? How much more can I take? Will this ever end? For me I know that my pain is only temporary, though I know for me and others that I so hard to see. I want people to know that in your most desperate hour you can cry out to Jesus. He knows we're broken he knows we need him and he's there. You think alot about your own mortatlity when told you have cancer and espcially when you are going through all the stuff they put you through to kill the cancer and make you it doesn't come back. It's scary I won't lie. I know I can't see him and I know in hard times its hard to know he's there but I'm tellin you he is there. My favorite line in the poem Footprints
 "My child when you saw only one set of foot prints it was then that I carried you". My Step Mom sent me this picture and I wanted to share it...funny how one little picture and speak so many words
Rainbow Tree soooo BEAUTIFUL :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Early Act Video


EARLY Act Video from Chris Cook on Vimeo.

This is a video created for Breast Impressions, Inc. The women there put this on a DVD and sent it to the Oklahoma lawmakers in Washington DC to ask them to vote “yes” on the EARLY Act that provides funding for early breast cancer detection and edcuation. It created quite a stir in D.C. The DVD has now been sent to every member of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. The EARLY Act was authored by Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

Strength In Pink


Strength In Pink Pitch Video from Chris Cook on Vimeo.

Strength in Pink is a feature length documentary that will tell the stories of courageous women dealing with breast cancer through interviews with breast cancer survivors and those currently battling this common disease.



Strength in Pink will also highlight the unique efforts of individuals and organizations such as Breast Impressions, Inc. and sculptor Kendall Howerton who along with the help of Roller Derby girls are attempting to raise breast cancer awareness through art to women of all ages and walks of life. Visit strengthinpinkmovie.com to donate.


The hardships, and challenges of women who have survived breast cancer and those facing the uncertain future of a recent diagnosis will also be explored and how the disease has affected their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

One Awesome Weekend :)

So its come about that time again...the one I dread like the plage and can't wait to be done with, CHEMO. However, after this treatment I will only have 1 TREATMENT LEFT TO GO.  I have to admit this past few weeks since my last treatment have done me well and the thought of not feeling well again....is scary but I know a necessary part of my journey.  This past weekend I was able to go to the Women's Wellness Retreat where i met so many incredible women and I wish I could share all of their stories with you.  There is something so special about talking with someone who has been through cancer, they understand like no one else can.  The retreat was filled with women of all ages with all trypes of cancer.  We had a disco party the last night where I actually WORE  A WIG for the first time EVER!  Seeing myself with hair was actually shocking to me because like my friend Dawn said I would I have learned to embrace my baldness as a part of me....sometimes I forget what it was like to actually have hair but I know the time will come when I will find it hard to imagine a time when I didn't have hair.  So for now I am trying to embrace this time and pray and see how God will use me in this journey to help others.  The last morning of our trip we had a speaker who was probably one of the funniest people I have ever listened to and he gave a great piece of advice...he said "The greatest emotion we can ever experience is Gratitiude".  WOW....that couldn't be more true and somtime I find it sad that many experience true gratitude for everyday things we take for granted only after a illness.  I can admit that I have never enjoyed life more than I am now because I now know what its like to not be able to do the things you used to be able to do no matter how much you want to.  I also got to room with an amazing girl named Stephanie who taught me so much this weekend and is truly an inspiration to young survivors everywhere :)  Hope you enjoy the slide show....

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Trying to See the Light in the Darkness :)

So its been a pretty good week before treatment.  Last week I got to go visit my aunt in Kingsport and spend the day with her.  We actually went out to eat and I WAS HUNGRY...although I can't eat like I used to it was sooo awesome to actually be hungry and enjoy food. 
















My aunt bout me a new hat which was amazing...its a cute jean cap like I've been lookin for and I really love it.  Wanted to show it off so I took a pic of myself, which is a rarity, so everyone could see it :). 
  It rained a few days this past week but I LOVE seeing the sunshine and being outside especially when I feel so good.  I have to admit the closer I have gotten to this treatment the more stressed and some what lonely I got  probably because the last treatment made me so sick and I hate the idea of going through the whole process again especially when I know I have no choice. When you feel bad from chemo  and you can't go anywhere, as many survivors can atest to, it makes you feel lonely cause all your friends could come over and the truth is you feel so bad that last time I couldn't stand to talk or do anything besides sleep or lay around and it almost becomes a prison of your own misery and it is so lonely, its easy to feel sorry for yourself and I absolutely hate doing that...makes me frustrated with  myself espcially when I know others have been through so much worse than me.   I been praying alot and asking god to take my anxiety so that I can go into today's treatment with confidence that this is the means to an end.  Thank God for my fellow survivor amber who met with me yesterday and just listened while I expressed my anxiety about today treatment.  Its such a blessing beyond words to have and be able to talk to girls who have been through this. But today's treatment did go well my mom and step-mom came and they are so awesome to just come and sit with me.....because alot of the time I fall asleep but no matter what they are just sit there and dont' care just sitting there for support. THEY ROCK! :)
I have a really awesome story about a man at the Earth Fare super market today. While looking for cheese ( lol) my mom began talking to the man behind the counter and told him we were  looking to change the processed foods I eat to more natural ones and she told him that I had cancer.  I walked up a few minutes later and he told me they got alot of people in hats in there and that I looked really great in mine. 
 Might sound crazy but even with hats on people stare and I've gotten used to it but many times its hard because I feel like the freak because some people smile but some people hard core stare at me like I"ve got a booger on my face or somethin (lol).  That might sound crazy and I dont' say it for pity I say it to be honest.  As time has gone by I have adjusted but sometimes little things like that still affect me probably more than I should let them...I realize some people just dont' know any better so I try to be understanding.
But back to my story after getting  the cheese I wanted I began to walk away and the man from behind the cheese counter came around and said "Mam he said can I ask you your name,  your mother told me about how you are sick and I wanted to tell you that I'm gonna be praying for you and your gonna be fine....God is gonna heal you".  I was so taken back by this man I almost didn't know what to say but Thank You.  I held back the tears and shook his hand and asked him his name "Jon".  WOW...I had never had anyone do that before but I can tell you that he was a blessing.  You never know where God is gonna show up.....he's even in the cheese section at the grocery story....HE'S EVERYWHERE!  I heard this song on the radio this past week and it moved me to tears and just reassured me that God is with me....he's already been there...he does know what I"m going through......and though the road is hard I've just got to hold on to him even if I dont' always feel like he's theres :)