Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Radiation and Beyond......

Well since the last time I updated I have finished my 15 round of full brain radiation....WOO HOO! Here's a fun pic of me after I finished my radiation. They even let me keep the helmet...not sure what do to with it besides maybe use it for next Halloween lol.  
Woo Hoo Last Radiation :)

The radiologist says I need to wait about a month for another MRI....and like you I was thinking "dang that's along time to wait" but he explained it like this...it takes 2 weeks for half the radiation to clear out of my head and another few weeks for enough of it to clear out for the tumors to be seen clear enough on the MRI to see if the tumors have shrunk.
I saw my oncologist last week and he started me on a drug called Xeloda that I take for 7 days and then am off for 7 days along with the Tykerb that I take 5 pills of at night.
I have also been taking steroids for the inflammation in my brain and so far it is my biggest complex.  For those that don't know the side effects of steroids can be cosmetically very difficult and for me that is the problem.  They make you swell horribly and have caused extremely painful acne on my face.  It happened pretty quickly and I definitely wasn't expecting it and I'd be lying if I told you it wasn't so far one of the most difficult things I have experienced.  I find myself going between work and home and that's it........I hate looking at myself and find people seem to stare more well because the swelling  makes it obvious that I'm sick.  But fortunately the doctors said it would go away but it will take about a month or two.  So for now I pray......a sweet friend of mine told me...tell God how you feel he can handle it....and I have....I've cried and I've prayed. 
Matthew 11:28 I think says it best:  "Jesus said "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls"
 What's funny is that you always hear "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"....."beauty is only skin deep"......but I tell you that's so much easier said than done.  And I've always said I will be honest and so I am......as a 26 year old woman those saying used to be something so much easier for me to say to someone and now that I'm living it its a much different story.  I know God still sees the inside me but my struggle right now is the outside and I've been honest and I encourage any man/woman out there...no matter what your struggle be honest with God he can take...he does understand....and even in my darkest times when I feel hideous I can feel him there.
Psalm 10:5
"Weeping may remain for the a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning"
Another struggle is my fatigue.  I was warned by the radiologist that fatigue (tiredness)...which has at points kept me in bed for a day or two which is difficult for a person like who me is definitely not a home body but luckily after a day or two of sleeping I've been able to continue to work.....works makes me feel normal. :)
I've also had to shave my head...which really wasn't that bad this time around.....kinda know how everything goes the second time around so it was more fun having my Mom and sister in law come and buzz my hair.  I was humbled and and shocked when my sister in law came in to shave my head with her head fully shaved. She is the most amazing woman

A verse that I've read that has really helped me is Matthew 17:20
"You don't have enough faith Jesus told them "I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say this to the mountain, move from here to there and it would move, Nothing would be impossible" 
This verse reminds me not to look at my mountain but to look at God because well he's bigger than this mountain...I must continue to look to him. 
"There is no cry so good as that which comes from the bottom of the mountains; no prayer half so hearty as that which comes up from the depths of the soul, through deep trials and afflictions. For they bring us to God and we are happier, for nearness to God is happiness."

I really hope I haven't spent this blog being negative just honest about my struggles but the fact that I feel like I couldn't make it without my heavenly father.  Tears are shed daily on my part but I can't explain that  even in my tears the peace I feel from the arms of my savior :) who I know continues to hold me even when I feel like I'm all alone. :)
Here's a video I've also been listening to that really soothes my soul........

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Full Brain Radiation......I Look Like Robo Cop lol

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Mold of My Head
So I apologize for droppin that last bomb on people and then not updating until now.  Seems like I've been a little over-whelmed with life lately and how drastic things are changing but no worries I am trudging ahead.  So as of today 1/18/2010 I have 3 more full brain radiation treatments to go.....YAY!   They are then going to wait a week or two and do another MRI of the brain to see how the radiation has worked.....or in other words to see if the tumors have shrank at all.   Since my last post I have been doing full brain radiation treatments every morning...and If u know me then u know I of course had to take pics to maybe help people understand what exactly they do in full brain radiation.  First they have to make a mold of my head and for all you ladies and even men who have had a paraffin done one their hands or feet that is kind of what it feel like when they mold the plastic to your face.  Here's a pic. Now you may ask why they have to make a mold of my head...why can't I just lay down on the table since we know all the radiation is going straight into my brain......have no fear...I asked that question and they said it was because they wanted to double check that my head didn't move and since we r dealing with such things as radiation...I agree lol. 
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Me and The Mask Bolted To Table...Get A-load of that Nose lol
So every morning I get up and I try and worry less, which I know sounds crazy and I try and remind myself that God's got this....he has promised to hold my hand and I can feel him...literally....I know he's there and I pray and I head to radiation and it only takes about ten minutes. The first day freaked me out a bit and if u look at this next pic you will see why
...because not only do they have u in a mask they also bolt you down to the bed...like something from saw.  When the radiation begins it smells like burning plastic and the first time I heard it I swear the first thing I said to my self was "I swear if I die because this plastic burns into my face when I get to the pearly gates I'm having God send me back because I"m haunting EVERYBODY!" lol  ..but luckily I"m still here and the smell is just a common side effect of those receiving full brain radiation so I've come to expect in my day to day treatments. 
Another part of the radiation is that well its going to kill my hair follicles on the hair and has already begun to do so but I'm hoping to keep my hair as long as possible.  Hoping this second time might not be as bad as the first.
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Just Me After I Finished A Morning Round of Radiation

But if you've ever lost your hair you may have experienced this but your hair actually hurts when it dies...so many evenings I lay on the couch with a extra large ice pack on my head to freeze my hair follicles because when my hair moves it actually hurts because the follicles are dead...its CRAZY!...sorry  I dont' have a pic of that....lol....that will be my next project. 

OK so onto our next line of treatment.  My oncologist has started me on what I light to call a "light" chemo...if that even exists.  We started today and its called Herceptin.  I did it IV when I was in nursing school and tolerated it rather well....so my prayer is that I will do that same again. I am also taking a medication call Tykerb 5 times a day and as soon as the radiation is over I will also start on a pill call Xeloda.  If you know me then u know I HATE taking pills so this is nightly struggle for me but I do as I am told.
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Me and My 2 Favorite Oncologists :)
Proverbs 4:27  Equilibrium. Balance of the heart and mind and passions. To set out boldly in the winds of life and circumstances and neither bend nor falter.  Plant your feet solidly on the Rock.  Let the winds blow about you with all their force. They have no power to harm you, for I AM your Rock.  I AM your anchor Let Me be your peace, your power, your stabilizer. Bend neither to the right nor the left but receive your balance in Me" 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ready or Not Here Comes Cancer

I have sat here for about an hour trying to figure out how to start this newest and probably most difficult blog post I have ever had to write. I hate having to tell bad news and I hate the thought of anyone being upset but like I have always said I feel like God has me on this journey for a reason and if some how my journey can help or positively affect someone by showing the grace and mercy of our Lord and Savior then I will do it.  And so with that here goes nothing........it is with the heaviest of heart that I have to reveal my latest diagnosis of Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer. 
To make a long story short.....I will tell you that it all started when I had to pull over to the side of the road on Christmas Eve while driving with my nephew because my eyes were bothering me.  I have been seeing what many call "floaters" in my eyes for months now....however, these are very common symptoms of migraines but on this particular night the "floaters" I saw completely took over my vision and by the time I pulled into a neighborhood and parked the car.....I blacked out.  Thanks to my "hero" and amazing nephew  who flagged down some residents of the neighborhood and then called 911.   I was then transported by ambulance to a local hospital where a CT scan was done on my head and 3 lesions were discovered. One on the occipital lobe, one on the cerebrum, and one on the frontal lobe.
I was then transported to another hospital that had neurologists that could see me. So by the time I got settled into the hospital it was almost 5 am on Christmas Eve.....but as always we made it eventful.....
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A funny pic that my Fav Nicole Took of Me :)

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Me and My Amazing Niece Kailea...We r Rock Stars!

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Canister Full of Radioactive Dye....FANTASTIC! LOL
Later on in the week I had a PET scan of my entire body and met with my oncologist.  The news he gave me was a little more than what we were expecting.  For those that don't know during a PET scan you are injected with radioactive dye  out of a canister and I of course had to take a pic......and the dye lights up in your body where there is active disease.  Unfortunately... along with the tumors in my brain there was evidence of active disease in my liver (Cancer), my hip, my tail bone, and my sub-sternal lymph nodes (lymph nodes that run down next to your trachea)

While yes I try to always find a way to have fun with it all I would be lying if I told you I was not still in shock and trying to process how just last week I was stressing about where I wanted to apply to finish my Bachelors in Nursing and this week.....I am contemplating what my life may now begin to look like.  The good and bad things about having cancer previously is that I have a great support system of cancer posse and survivors to turn to but I also know what life battling cancer looks like and I know how difficult the journey I am about to embark on is going to be.  A friend sent me this verse this morning and it was so perfect to how I feel
" I cried out to the Lord in my suffering, and He heard me. He set me free from all my fears." Psalm 34:6
So the plan for now is this......I am to start full brain radiation in attempts to shrink the tumors TOMORROW.  I dont' know how I feel at this point....I feel like I am still processing the major shift my life has suddenly taken.  But I know I will wake up in just a few hours and I will do my best to face tomorrow with the peace that my God has promised me that surpasses all understanding.  Am I afraid YES....but do I still trust in my never failing, ever lasting God....YES and do I believe in miracles and the healing power of Jesus....YES!  I am also starting on two different chemo pills, Tykerb and Xeloda....a whopping 11 pills a day....EXCITING STUFF! lol.  I am also going for a bone scan on Thursday and praying for good results :)
Some have asked if I will be doing IV chemo and radiation but my oncologist has explained that you can not do IV chemo and full brain radiation at the same time because it can cause you to go toxic.  So for now we do one thing at a time and we will start with the brain...doing 15 straight days of  Full brain radiation followed by a MRI to see if that radiation has shrunk the tumors and then we will move on from there.
I know God has heard ever scream and caught every tear I have cried over this past week because believe me I will be honest and tell you there have been many.  To say I have an amazing family and friends who have sat with me, cried with me, listened to me, and just been there for me would be an understatement.  I will never EVER be able to repay all the love I have seen over just the past week....but I will spend my lifetime trying to repay it.