Friday, February 27, 2009

600 hours of chemotherapy completed today!!! Yahoo!

Yes, today was a happy day! Mom took me to get my leash (bag of chemo unhooked)!!! Today should be my final chemo. I have alot of testing to go through but for right is over once I work through all the chemo toxins. I still have the down time that goes along with the chemo but at least I don't have any more treatments scheduled!!! We stopped at Taco Bell on the way home to celebrate Mexicano' way. Ha. We went all out. ha.

This was Anita, who was giving me my final chemo on Wednesday . Wonderful and very sweet nurse!

This was me right before I was knocked out from my final infusion.

This is Dietra. She was my first chemo nurse when I very first had my port put in and she was the one who took off my leash. I'm holding the happy face all the nurses signed for me.

This is the group of nurses that came up to my chair and sang a "Celebration Chemo day Song"

Mom, my steady Friday date to get my chemo bag off. Steve took me every Wednesday and mom would take me every Friday. Thanks to them, it was the one thing that I didn't have to worry about. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!

Another picture of me and mom!

Me and Dietra again.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

If I had to do it all over again.....

I don't really feel like blogging right now. I've been up since 1 a.m. and when Steve realized it, he started me on all my meds and I'm feeling slightly better...but honestly not really. My kids have gone to school and work and of course, Steve had to go to work so I'm waiting on my sister to come over. It is may be the 2nd time I've called and asked someone to stay because I've been so nauseated and very topsy-turvy on my feet. They don't want to stand up without me tumbling over so I guess this is a recliner day again! :-)

Just wanted to leave the words of Erma Bombeck that many I'm sure have read over the years but I thought it was worth noting again. Good thoughts are welcome reminders.

If I Had My Life To Live Over
by Erma Bombeck
The following was written by the late Erma Bombeck after she found out she had a fatal disease.
If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television - and more while watching life.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."There would have been more "I love you's".. More "I'm sorrys" ...But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute... look at it and really see it ... live it...and never give it back.
© Erma Bombeck
Have a wonderful day!
Love to all,

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

One Phase of my Chemo is completed.....let's dance in the rain!!

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be people of courage; be strong.
So stand Strong and fulfil God’s will.
1 Corinthians 16:13

Today was another normal day at the clinic with the wait times. I was concerned we were going to sit down there all day and not get my treatment again. The nurses were so nice and concerned and kept checking my blood chemistry and cell counts. Some were low but barely passed what they would allow for chemo. My platelets had moved from 72,000 to 125,000 and the cut-off was 100,000. They said safety first. They would not want to give me this treatment unless I surpassed 100,000 but they really want to see 300,000-400,000 so it will be interesting how this treatment treats, Me-the Chemo Princess! ha.
I'll be back on Friday to get it removed and that is when everything really starts knocking me out. I must say all the pre-meds they give me now really start working on me immediately. It was the first time I felt like the room was moving and decided to close my eyes and viola, I was out! I woke up and saw that I only had a minute on the chemo they were administering at the moment. Yeah for me. Steve keeps me informed, I'm sure out of boredom. He still does not complain. :-) Such a wonderful man.....
So enough of all the boring talk....Let's celebration!
Another thought I would like to pass on.
“Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass…it’s about learning how to dance in the rain!”

We all face adversity in our life. However, it’s not the adversity, but how we react to it that will determine the joy and happiness in our life. During tough times, we can spend time feeling sorry for ourselves, or, we can, with gratitude…’learn how to dance in the rain’

Gratitude, can change our attitude, thus, our lives, forever. We can dig a deeper pit for ourselves by moaning and groaning about our problems or we can sing our way to victory…. our choice.

Let there be a shout in your camp today for God is for you, look up your redemption draws near, ’sorrow may last for a night but joy will come in the morning,’ sickness may strike you but the lord is still ’the health of your countenance’ and ‘your healer.’

Sarah Breathnack penned these words…“When we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present….we experience heaven on earth.”
Draw strength in your day and don't forget when you slow down and take the time to dance in the rain, I'm waltzing in spirit right beside you! :-)
Love to all,

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In your struggles of life, are you a coffee bean, carrot or an egg?

As you already know by reading my blog, this is the 3rd time I've gone to get my last treatment. First it was my white blood count and then it was my platelets so I'm hoping this time, everything is back to normal.
Typically they will do a blood transfusion if my platelets are not back up in order to get my treatment completed. As I've already noted the other day, the first sign is bleeding gums. Well, mine were pretty bad last night and the first thing I thought was, "Oh no, not again......I want the chemo part over". However, as I think about it, there could be reasons that I do not know but my Protector who knows all things may.....therefore, I shouldn't be so hasty in my decision to push the treatment, although it is frustrating.

I'm a little worried about getting the treatment also. The neuropathy in my fingers and feet have been really bad and have not recovered from the last treatment. I could cut off the tips of my fingers and not feel anything but yet they are extremely sensitive to cold. Go figure. They wake me up in the middle of the night because they hurt so much. I was looking through pictures today and the pictures felt so cold to my hands, I finally had to go to my recliner, turn on my heating pad and put my hands behind my back and warm them up. It is very hard to explain the tingling, hurt and burning because it isn't a normal pain....but I've learned that with the pain that chemo brings. I just try to bear it and hope tomorrow is better. What do you do? You just tie a knot and hang on.....sometimes I may dangle from the rope but I'm still holding on. :-)

I saw this story and found it thought provoking, hope you do too! Please God, help me to be a coffee bean! Amen"

A daughter complained to her father about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it, and wanted to give up. She was tired of all the fighting and struggling. It seemed as though in solving one problem, two more would arise.

Her father, ( a chef ) took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil.
In one he placed carrots, in the second he placed eggs, and the last he placed ground coffee beans.

He let them sit and boil without saying a word. The daughter impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. In about twenty minutes he turned off the burners.

He fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then he ladled the coffee out and poured it in a cup. Turning to her he asked. "Darling, what do you see?" "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. She humbly asked. "What does it mean Father?"
He explained that each of them had faced the same adversity, boiling water, but each reacted differently. The carrots went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. But after being subjected to the boiling water, they softened and became weak.
The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But after sitting through the boiling water, the insides became hardened.
However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you," he asked his daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

How about you?
Are you the carrot that seems hard, but with pain and adversity do you wilt and become soft and lose your strength?

Are you the egg, which starts off with a changeable heart? Were you a fluid spirit, but after difficult times, have you become hardened and stiff. Your shell looks the same, but are you tough with a stiff spirit and heart?
Or are you like the coffee bean? The bean changes the hot water, the thing that is bringing the pain. When the water reaches it's peak temperature, it just tastes better.

If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and make things better around you. When people talk about you, do your praises to the Lord increase? When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, does your worship elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity?

Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?
Blessed is a man who preseveres under trial; for once he has been tried, will receive the Crown of Life, which the Lord has promised to those that love him.

As always, love to all, Good night!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Today has been another lazy day!

P.S. I finally updated the pictures at the bottom to show newest treatments, family pictures, etc. I still do not have pictures from the tea but will show them as soon as I do!

Haven't even gotten out of my pjs today. My body isn't totally pain free but I feel pretty good compared to most days. The sun is beautiful outside but it is still too cold!

We just had another dinner brought to us (even though I told them I didn't have chemo this week, they insisted) so we will just have to eat it. ha. All the food that has been brought to our home has been so delicious! I can do alot of things for other people but cooking is not one of the great things I do. :-) It may because Steve has cooked for us so many years. He is the first one to leave everyday and the first one usually to get home. He has taken upon himself to be the cook of the house. No complaining here.

Pam, we did find Angela a dress. Vernie-it is not hoochie either. She tried on 4 dresses, they all fit and were beautiful but she picked one and it looks beautiful on her. I couldn't believe it was that easy. However, I was pretty tired by the time we started putting dresses on her so I was really glad we were able to find something so quickly.

Kimberly is supposed to be home tonight so we might take Angela out, just to be with her by ourselves. I guess this means I'll have to get out of my pjs and really get dressed. :-( I wish pjs were acceptable. I wear them 24/7. I never thought I would be saying that....but life has a way of changing our minds.

Don't forget church tomorrow. It is the best day of the week. It is where my faith is nourished and my strength is made stronger. As I've said before, I hate the struggle but Thank God for the strength. It is something I could not have ever imagined and can't even really explain it today. It has been a very bumpy ride but not without purpose. Life has never seemed more grand, relationships more important and God's grace and mercy more evident. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound....

Make the most of your day and stay warm!

As always,
Love to all,

Friday, February 20, 2009

It is freezing outside!!! Brrrr....

Oh my goodness, I opened the door today and it felt like I was in Alaska! I can't imagine those who work outside. I'm so sensitive to cold that my fingers and feet have been on fire all morning because I opened the door and exposed them to cold air. I can't even imagine living back in Indiana where my family lives with the snow, ice and cold....Oh Lord!! ha.

I tried exercising today to continue to build up my energy. Next week, when I get my final chemo treatment (hopefully), my body will be so revved up that I will fly right through it. Cross your fingers, cross your toes! ha. I know it is the prayer that gets me through. :-) Believe me, positive thoughts might make you feel better but they don't give you the comfort you need to make it through.

Kimberly is still on her ski trip, had a slight mishap the day before yesterday but all is well. She called last night to say she had skied all the black diamond trails. I've never even gone skiing. They sounded like they were having a good time. Angela had to work all evening and all day today so it is an empty house. Wow, I feel too young to have a empty house.

I woke up feeling nauseated for some reason today. I thought I might research common side effects of low platelets. I was told if your platelets don't come up on their own, the only way to fix it is to have a blood transfusion. I'm not sure why but this is one time, it really makes me feel sick to my stomach just thinking about getting someone else's blood. However, most who have chemo have to have blood transfusions often and I've not had to at all. Now we are down to the last treatment and my blood has played out the possibility. UGH! Please pray that my counts stay up!!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
As always, love to all,

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Well, never chemo for me today!!

After going to the lab to have the line put in for my chemo treatment, I went to my doctor's appt.

She first came in and said my red/white blood counts looked really good and gave me a hug. We spent most of our time trying to figure out when I would be able to return to work.

After going over all of this, she went back out to get the final results on my blood and found that although my cell counts looked good, my platelets were too low. The first sign is usually bleeding gums. I normally don't talk about all the grose side effects but thought this wouldn't be so bad.....I've had the bleeding gums the past few weeks but thought it was from the cumulative effect of the chemo I didn't say anything. Well, it usually is the first sign that your platelets are low and sure enough it caught up with me.

There is not a shot they can give to get your platelets back up so she said, we would have to wait another week. This only prolongs my pain and getting back to normal so this is one time, I'm not happy to delay. I just want it to be overrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

However, on the good side I realized that by being on delay it would give me opportunity to go shopping with Angela for her prom dress. Yes, I know her prom isn't until May but why wait? Since Kimberly just left to go on a ski trip, this leaves only Angela at home. So, this gives us time to spoil her by herself; since I've been home with Kimberly for the past 8 months, this will give Angela some time with us to herself. All kids need alone time with parents, I believe....

So, it is not a lost cause....I'm sure I could use a few days to catch up on seeing my 90 yr. old grandpa and playing cards or doing something creative other than sitting in my chair all day. ha.

Thanks for the prayers....hopefully next week will be the final charm. I did find out in 9 weeks they will start all the testing....

Take Care,
As always,

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Leaving for Emory in the morning....

My first appt. is at 8 am. in the lab to put the lines in my chest and to take blood. We, of course will be there all day. We will need to leave around 6:30 am. to make the appt. I hear it is supposed to rain which will slow down traffic. Oh joy! ha.

Just pray that this is the last of chemo forever.

Remember if I don't blog for a few days, it is because physically I just can't do it....but I'll be back on as soon as I can. Usually the first few days I'm on alot of medicine and steriods so they keep me so jacked up that I'm usually acting alot better than probably what I am....then within 3 days, I'm out.

So, hang in there....we will too and we'll meet here again.

Love to all,

Gearing up for my last chemo treatment! Yeah!

Well, today I gear myself up both mentally and physically for my chemo treatment tomorrow.

This is the first time I'm actually looking forward to it. Well, not really looking forward to all the pain but just getting this completed.

I was so happy with the last couple of delays because it helped me physically to go through the treatment, however that is until my last chemo nurse said the delay was not good. They set up these treatments to hit the cancer cells that are being formed, are already active and those that are moving around. The delay allow the cells to start moving around....UGH! I had not thought of that.....

I know this chemo treatment is not the end of my journey. I have alot of testing to see how the treatments affected the cancer cells, my body, etc. and depending on the testing; I may have to start the treatments all over again. It is only a possibility that every patient goes through. It seems most patients I meet are on several rounds of chemo. I just pray that all the prayer that has surrounded us, remove that option forever.

They will let my body rest for a short while and then all the testing will begin. I actually believe the testing is going to prove what all the prayer has done. I will be going through testing every 3 months for quite awhile, after all the initial testing, which will eventually lead to yearly testing and then testing every 3 years or so. I think...the testing schedule has changed a few times.

I also received a letter and they want me to have breast testing again. I just had a biopsy done on 1 lump but I had 3 but they determined a couple of months ago they were okay. However, they are requesting testing again. So, if I look a little blue from all the radioactive dyes, don't be alarmed....I'm not turning into a Smurf! ha.

I guess in our journey we have to go through the testing. This is what ultimately will show our strength and perserverance. You have to make it through the trial and be tested to really get through the journey. So, HI, HO, HI, is off to testing I GO.... You don't know how strong a rubberband is until it is stretched. This is a reminder to us that when we are stretched as tight as possible in life troubles and issues, by holding on; we are using our strength. No matter where your strength comes from, it is what ultimately gets you through your journey. I'm just glad my is through prayer.

Thank you again to all who pray and support the family in so many ways. Words are so inadequate to ever show how much it all means to us. I could never have guessed it to be as overwhelming, heart warming and as meaniful as it truly is.....I realize that I really had a small glimpse of what life is all about and it sure isn't the things we spend most of our time on. It is people relationships!

As always,
Love to all,

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Journey-Struggle to Strength

Mom asked me to post this...this is my talk I gave at the Tea Party.

In June, 08 I went to see my doctor for a prescription change. Although I had been there just a couple of months before, when I told her why I was there, I’ll never forget her panic. She immediately told me she would do nothing for me without me first seeing a Colon Surgeon. I thought to myself, “I’m not going to see that kind of doctor”. She told me that I would be lucky if I left his office without having cancer. After she gave me the appt. time, I looked at it and knew it was the middle of the day and it would interfere with all the other things that were going on. She saw me eyeing the appt. and let me know in no uncertain term that by my not going, “it could be life or death”.
I reluctantly kept my appt. and after seeing the Colon Surgeon for the 1st time felt relief because he stated that he didn’t want to factor anything in or out but thought everything would be fine, however since I was now over 35, he would request a colonscopy at my 1st doctor’s urging.
I was fine until the night before the colonscopy….somehow I just knew something was wrong….never thinking cancer….but I cried the whole night before the test.
July 16, 2008, I had my colonscopy. I’ll never forget how sick I was from the prep. The night before I would swallow the prep, go get sick and the process would start over. I’ll never forget talking to my kids and then I would say, “I don’t feel good” and go get sick, come back and continue the conversation because I did not want to alert them to the fact that something may not be fine. They were very quick that morning at Cobb Wellstar, getting me right in before my appt. because I felt sick. The last words I heard as I fell asleep were, “just go to sleep, this will be over in a couple of minutes” to wake up minutes later to the most pitiful and pathetic looking medical staff. I’ll never forget looking at the faces and knowing something was wrong, as the nurse working around me began saying, “you are just so young, we are trying to find your husband, the doctor wants to talk to him”. I knew something was wrong but I remember immediately feeling shame, as if I had done something wrong. Steve was sent to a room with the Surgeon and 2 assistants right across from my recovery room. I felt frustrated that he was going in there himself and they wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. Very quickly he came out of that room towards me with a face I'll never forget. "Leah, they found a tumor, it's bad, you have to have surgery, I'm serious". Those who know Steve knows he likes to joke but I never thought for one minute any of it was a joke. I immediately asked for my surgeon to come talk to me. I’ll never forget the shocked look on his face. I felt then that they were not telling me everything because I was in recovery. I asked Steve to help me get dressed so we could get out of there. As we walked by the nurses station, our hands locked together, they stopped us and insisted that I be in a wheelchair and Steve pull up our vehicle. The short time I was in the wheel chair the nurse again told me how sorry she was and that I was so young to have to experience what I was about to go through. Again, I thought if the medical staff shows this much emotion, how bad is it?
I was immediately set up with all the pre-operative testing for a week and during this time , began searching for most experienced doctor in the area in this field. I ended up at Emory with a Surgeon (Thanks to my cousin, Becky who while on dialysis, was researching the best doctors for me).
The colon surgeon who did my colonscopy called me at home. We sat and talked for about an hour. Another indicator to me that things were worse than the information that I was getting. He told me that my colon was so blocked, they couldn’t even get the scope through the colon. He said that if I had not been checked, he would have given me 3 months or maybe 6 months and I would have been dead. He went on to explain how he had seen people in my condition live for 2 years. My first thought was, “I’m 39 and you are talking like 2 years is such a long time”. I said, “well, 2 years is just not enough, I have too much to do”. He said they would do all they can, he just wanted me to have the realistic side of things and that they are coming up with new things all the time. He did mention that he was shocked that day they found my cancer, had not diagnosed anyone in 2 years but that I owed my life to my first doctor for pushing so hard for me to be checked. Based on my family history and what he saw, he did not think it was going to turn out to be anything.
After all the testing and the talks with Surgeons, etc. my mind had finally shut down. I immediately began feeling so much guilt and shame for having cancer. I felt guilty because I wondered if I had done something to bring this on myself, I felt guilty for what I was going to put my family through, I felt shame for just having cancer; period. It began weighing on my mind. So much so, I didn’t want to go to church because with all this guilt, I just knew everyone was going to be looking at me.
All my family came that Sunday morning as we arrived a little late so I could make it to my seat without ‘anyone looking” at me. We sat in the back row and I remember feeling very weak in my body and spirit. Anytime we stood, I had to lock my knees to keep from falling over. I remember telling Bro. Johns, my Pastor and my family before that I did not want anyone to take me down front for prayer. My spirit became very resistant to anyone’s desire to help or any type of public show of support. I just wanted this to all go away…..I felt like and still feel like some days that I’m living someone else’s life. It is still very surreal.
I remember seeing others go down for prayer and I bowed my head to pray for them. I realized that I couldn’t even get a word out of my mouth. I tried over and over just to say, “Jesus” but nothing came out. I remember hearing others pray around me. I remember saying in my spirit, “Lord just let the prayers around me be mine”. As I listened to the prayers around me, I began to feel strength. I felt strength not only in my spirit but in my legs. As the prayers went up, so did I. I began to feel this burden of having cancer start to leave me. As I stood there and just listened to the prayers, I heard someone speaking to me. I didn’t open my eyes, I just continued to listen. The voice reminded me of a service from several years ago where the Evangelist, Bro. Hernandez had the congregation pray for me. He prayed that the fear that I had would be removed and that’s God hedge of protection would be upon me all the days of my life. He also said after he prayed that I would go through life as if armored trucks were all around me. As I thought back to this service, the voice spoke to me again and said, “I knew then what you know now, I protected you then and I’m protecting you now”. I opened my eyes for a brief second to see who was talking to me and I didn’t see anyone. I knew then without a shadow of a doubt that God was letting me know that he was going to be my protection. I have never felt so much peace before. I’ve been able to weather this storm with the comfort of knowing that God was in control. My job is only to fight the battle but he has the war in control. I don’t know how to explain this but many many times I would be in agony going through chemo and Steve would do everything he knew to do and then he would ask me…..what do I do? My only response would be, “just pray”. I never felt the pain go away but I felt so comforted. I know it was through all the prayers that everyone was sending up for me. I realized that I was trading suffering for strength and pain for comfort. I still don’t understand it….because none of it makes sense. However, I can say that God allowed me to rest in HIS arms so many times.
I realized all the surgeries, tests, and the chemo was the process I would have to go through but God was working on bigger things. He was working through my circumstance to strengthen and bless others. He was allowing me to use my earthly ability to show his grace and mercy through the process and what victory looks like on the other side.
I subsequently had an anterior colon resection surgery on 7/23/08. They removed about a foot of my colon .
My tumor was the size of a large apple which had grown all through the colon walls into 1 lymph node of 11. They determined that I'm in Stage 3 Colon Cancer with only a 50% survival rate without chemo. With chemo, my survival jumps to 70-75%. My Surgeon called me and said I would have to have chemotherapy. Age wasn’t on my side, being female wasn’t on my side, being a non-drinker wasn’t on my side and being so sensitive to medicine wasn’t on my side.
I began to dread the process but soon didn’t think about the disease. My world became very quiet as I have sat in my recliner for days and now months.
I have not feared, asked God why me? I’ve thought, “why not me”? why should I want anyone else to go through this? I determined in my mind that I would go through chemotherapy with as much grace and mercy as I could. They told me to wear sweats so I could be comfortable during chemo. I decided that it wasn’t going to work for me. I’ll never forget the looks that I got when I would show up in heels. Mom and I would laugh at the faces but we were determined that God was going to get his glory through the process.
At first as most of you probably know, we asked for no assistance. I realize now that it was because we thought it was the only thing we could control. Everything else was blind faith and sometimes we just wanted to travel the road that everyone else was traveling.
It was at this time that Christ began working through the church, work family and friends. It was overwhelming because so much support and prayer was being lifted for us….that although we were so appreciative, we were still pushing back.
Joannie Camden and Rosa Boyd began preparing a list for others to join in and have dinner brought to our home. Even as we pushed and resisted, I think we were told to shut-up, leave them alone and just accept it. We soon realized that they had enlisted God’s army through so many families who have entered our home carrying unbelievable home cooked meals. It has continued through this year. I soon realized that the food that was nourishing my family was really nourishing our souls. Thank you so much to so many who have blessed us. No matter if I felt like eating, I would always at least eat a little of what everyone brought over. Mom and I were talking and we honestly believe that having the dinners helped me sustain through the chemo. My weight was the only thing on my side. Fluff isn’t so bad! ha.
The cards that came pouring in and have continued to pour in. People I’ve not seen or heard from in years began sending me cards. I still look forward to the mail everyday. Every card, every word has been strength to me. My mail person comes in the morning and I’m usually sitting in my recliner watching out the door and as soon as they come, I ask one of the kids to get my mail. You can’t imagine how many tears I’ve cried over the cards and have asked the Lord to bountiful bless those who have continually remembered me and our family.
The blog comments….the blog started off as a brain dump for me. It soon became a way for others to see a little glimpse into what we were going through. As I blogged and as others made comments, I realized this was my way of reaching out to others without being able to leave my house. My blog comments were added strength each and every day. It also became a way to connect to past friends and even to “new” friends who I’d never met. Vernie and Tammy are proof of that.
The flowers/plants/gifts that arrived at my door everyday. I’ve never seen UPS this much in my life. Every time I would receive something in the mail, or through UPS, I would think to myself, how in the world can I ever repay these people for their support? It wasn’t ever about the gifts but always about the thought, support and knowing someone was thinking about us.
My work family started supplying pallets of drinks, disposable plates, napkins, flatwear, lemon drops, peppermint tea and leaving American express cards for our parking, gas and other hospital related costs. Many at work who told me they never prayed, would call and tell me that they made an exception for me and they prayed every day. Just knowing they were praying was such a blessing for me.
My chemo blanket. Isn’t it beautiful? To me, it represents everyone who have assisted or helped in some way. This journey has never been about me but about the circumstance . However, this blanket reminds me everyday of all the prayer that has gone up for me and the bountiful blessings that are going to come down.
My customers from work who have sent me cards, e-mails and the hat that I’m wearing today. Wachovia headquarters is in North Carolina and they are always checking on me. It is pretty incredible to be in such a politically correct environment and have others keep up with you, let alone pray for you.
Most importantly all the prayer. My church family who has prayed for me every service. At first I was embarrassed to hear my name each service. Mom said, “well, you want prayer don’t you?’…..well, that was a no-brainer so I learned to appreciate the fact that others were going to be blessed because of their obedience to God through my circumstance so again, I would need to learn to be quiet.
All the prayer and support from other churches. Peachtree United Methodist Church mailed me a blanket and then began calling my name in prayer at their church (6,000 members) and sending cards. First Baptist Church of Douglasville began sending me cards and telling me they didn’t know me personally but had heard and they were praying for me. I received a 6 page book from a Catholic church in California that approved my name to be called in prayer every Friday in the U.S. Puerto Rico, and Columbia.
My family, which includes my and Steve’s family members. They have been my first response of help. They have sat with me, held me, prayed with me, watched me moan and groan, brought dinner and have supported my immediate family in whatever way possible. My mom who has given up her free Fridays to run me to Emory. To me, this journey has been about the circle. My circumstance in the middle, my family support, my church family, work family and friends surrounding my family and Jesus’ completing the circle with his arms around all of us.
My kids- who have had to watch their mom in agony, go to sleep crying and sit in a recliner all day. I pray that the impact has given them strength they didn’t know they had and they are able to pay it forward one day.
My husband-there are no words to express my gratitude to this man. His comfort to me and the kids has been overwhelming. He has gone to everyone of my chemotherapy sessions with me. He has laughed me through the mentally challenging times when I just couldn’t stand to look at so many dying people. He has held me through the night as I lay crying for hours in pain and then would get up and go to work with little sleep. Not one time has he ever complained. When I thank him, he always says, “for what?’ as if he hasn’t done anything.
We do not have family history of colon cancer. The Surgeon told me that I had an old person's disease but aren't sure why? It is a very aggressive form of cancer. I’ve been checked for breast cancer, spine cancer and esophagus cancer. I’ve been through so many tests, specialist visits, biopsies, surgeries…..that I’ve lost count. I know that I recently asked Emory for a list of my appts. in 2008 and heard the woman say, “Good Lord, you have 10 pages of appts, this is going to take some time”.
My great physician is the Lord but until he determines the time for me to be healed or to meet him, I'm still doing what the doctors tell me to do. This will be my test in my testimony or as another puts it, my mess in my message.
You all-My family, friends and Co-workers have been unbelievable with your support, prayers, cards, visits, gifts....I feel so blessed because I know the bountiful blessings God is going to bestow upon all of you. I asked what I could do to repay all of you and I was reminded that the blessings come from our obedience. I could never make a dent in repayment but God’s repayment is much greater. You have been Christ’s hands and feet to us through this journey. We could never thank you enough…words are very inadequate. I haven’t liked the process but I’m so thankful for the strength. This wasn't a journey I chose for myself, however some things are out of our control. The one thing in my control is to listen to where God wants me to be when my journey ends or maybe I’m just being prepared because the real journey has just started?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Come One, Come All.....

Yesterday was such a fun day. We had a Ladies Tea. It was unbelievably decorated with all the beautiful china, fresh tea, finger sandwiches and scones. Such a Ladies Delight. :-) Most were wearing hats to honor those of us who live with hats these days.

It was such a grand and special party. Poems/stories were read, friendships were strengthened, encouragement was spread....not a day anyone would want to miss; not me, I mean this!! The place was spread as a grand ball would be.....I thought Dear Lord, how could you ever beat this?

I really enjoyed seeing everyone with their hats, and even more so, when they caused the Ladies to wiggle and wag. ha. Just teasing. I noticed that as soon as the party was over, the hats came tumbling down....very few left their hats on. Such will be my life for awhile but a small sacrifice to pay....I must wear hats on my head every day!

I re-connected with a co-worker/friend from 17 yrs. ago (Tammy Taylor), and with Linda Shanks (my former teacher/friend....more my hang-out friend in High School).....oh to think of all my young years of good clean fun ......and then I met Vernie. Yes #1 Fan, also known as Vernie, has been an encourager on my blog for months and months but I've never met her and wasn't sure who she was. She really is a person. She is a beautiful person inside and out. She came to the tea party and it is the first time we've ever met one another. She works with Tammy Taylor, who I've always loved. So, they both came yesterday as a wonderful surprise and we tried to catch up.

Vernie-I know you are reading this so I can make up what I failed to mention. I would love to come and meet all the wonderful ladies at your church who have been praying for us. I owe that to you so let me know when....

Thank you to Linda Shanks for driving so far to come to the tea party! Hope we can get together soon.

This tea also gave me a chance to meet other ladies that may/may not go to the morning service. They all said they heard my name in prayer many times at church and wondered who I I'm thankful that this provided an avenue to meet them.

To all the Ladies and the work- Oh my, I know how labor intensive it must have been and I can't thank you enough for making the day so special. I really enjoyed it and know so many others who said how much fun and how special being at a tea made them feel. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I was feeling really good yesterday so our youngest, Angela said she was going to take us out to eat for Valentine's. I was excited about it...just being out the whole day. Well...Miss Granny Grump doesn't always know when too much is too much. We had such a nice time at dinner. We met my sister-in-law, Angie out to eat and as soon as I left, I was sick. I couldn't wait to get home. I immediately came in, put my pjs on and climbed into bed. First one in bed in a long time. I went to bed around 9:30p.m.....very early for me and did not wake up until 5 am. this morning....ready to get up and go to church.

So, although I went to bed hurting and feeling really sick...God allowed me to sleep through the entire night until this morning. Isn't that the way God is? Always knowing our need even before we I layed down, I just said, "Lord, please help me and let me sleep tonight" wasn't a split second and I was sound asleep. Steve even mentioned that the kids were being loud and I didn't even hear them and I'm a light sleeper.

Sometimes it is the simple things in life we take for granted, such as sleeping....I believe God cares if we sleep. Through our rest, our bodies are being strengthened...our spirit is allowed to rest as God continuously watches over us. How special is that? Do you as a parent/grandparent, etc. stay up and watch over your children/grandchildren all through the night? No, because we couldn' isn't it nice to know that we have someone who is keeping watch over us day and night? The peace and comfort you get from rest is just a glimpse of the many facets of God.

As I write this, I'm beginning to feel sleepy I think I will go rest. I pray that you have peace so you can slumber too! ha.

As always-
Love to all,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Through It All

Hello Everyone! I hope this finds everyone doing well. Leah has not bounced back as quickly this time. The dreaded shot has caused additional pain and seems to have prolonged the recovery time. She seems to be improving but we take it one day at a time. She hopes to be better by Saturday for the tea party. I pray she will be well enough by then but it is one of those things you never can predict. Taking care of herself is most important. She only has one more treatment and it will be next Wed. if all goes as planned. The finish line is in sight.

Leah will be back on to blog when she feels well enough. She still reads all the comments even if she is not in contact. Words of encouragement are very powerful and uplifting when someone is going through the valley. It is what helps you get through the day. I know it means a lot to her. Thank you for all you have done for the family. I know you will continue to keep them in your prayers.

God Bless and Keep You,

This is my song for the day:

"Through It All"

I've had many tears and sorrows,
I've had questions for tomorrow,
there's been times I didn't know right from wrong.
But in every situation,
God gave me blessed consolation,
that my trials come to only make me strong.

Through it all,
through it all,
I've learned to trust in Jesus,
I've learned to trust in God.
Through it all,
through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word.

I've been to lots of places,
I've seen a lot of faces,
there's been times I felt so all alone.
But in my lonely hours,
yes, those precious lonely hours,
Jesus lets me know that I was His own

I thank God for the mountains,
and I thank Him for the valleys,
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through.
For if I'd never had a problem,
I wouldn't know God could solve them,
I'd never know what faith in God could do.

Through it all,
through it all,
I've learned to trust in Jesus,
I've learned to trust in God.
Through it all,
through it all,
I've learned to depend upon His Word.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

It was a long day.....

Yesterday ended up as a long day. We had to wait to get in at Emory but we were out at 12:30 p.m. and thought we were doing pretty good on time....well, until my radiator blew on us going down Memorial Drive.

Mom saw the steam and realized the car had overheated. I didn't see a thing. We pulled over and had alot of offers for help but we were concerned about the help because we weren't sure if they knew more than we did. So, we called Steve-who came and tried to rescue us. We soon realized after taking the car down the road that it wasn't going to make it.

Mom called a repair shop, who referred us to a wrecker that would be right out there. Needless to say, we sat for several hours in the sun waiting for the wrecker. We had to walk up and down the road just to figure out where we were to try to give directions. We realized at this point we were off Lee Rd. in front of Morehouse College of Medicine but apparently there are more of these campsus', which makes it harder to find if you are using a GPS system.

They told me that my pain would probably kick in 3-4 hrs. after I had my initial shot. I was praying to the Good Lord that it did not happen while we sat on the side of the road. Thank the Lord, it did not kick in until this morning. The pain has been pretty unbearable this morning. It aches in my bones. I just thank the Lord that it didn't start yesterday. They say it should only be a few days. I'm just so thankful that I'm on the home stretch!! One more treatment, they keep is supposed to be the worst but I'm really trying to get excited just knowing that it is my LAST!!

Well, I'm going to get some tea and sit on my heating pad for relief. Hope everyone has a blessed weekend. :-)
Love to all,

Friday, February 6, 2009

4th day this week...back to Emory!

Well, I'm supposed to be ready to leave in a few minutes to go back to Emory and here I am blogging. I dread it so much that I wait until the last minute before I have to get dressed. So silly, I know! ha.

I'm having my chemo bag removed and the dreaded shot this morning. I'm not feeling well at all this morning. I feel very nauseated. I just pray this shot doesn't immediately take affect until I get home. I just know that it brings on the feelings of a bad case flu with all the body aches on top of the aches I'm already going through, thus the reason I'm dreading it so much.

However, it is supposed to keep me on schedule for my final chemo treatment and for that, I'm very happy.

I was so happy to hear from my boss yesterday. She had talked with her boss and they wanted me to know that I did not need to worry about trying to hurry and come back until my body was ready. They did not want me to take chances and come back before I should and be out sick or compromise my body. They said my job would be there and they would be fine. It made me feel so much better because I feel like I've just let everyone down. I have so many things to do and no energy to do them. I know it is one time in my life I shouldn't worry but you can't help it. Having peace of mind about these things....really helps. I would rather do my part than defer to somone else. It just isn't me to do that.....but Thank the Lord so many have helped out. We couldn't have done it without all the support, although I think we thought we could. :-)

Well, I better run. My mom is taking me today and she is going to get me for not being dressed. We know Emory always runs behind so we've learned not to sweat it too much. I guess that is the good thing.

Take Care, Love to all.....

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Been up for a few hours this morning! Be safe!

I went to bed around midnight and was up at 3:30 a.m. I'm feeling a little nauseous but that is to be expected the day after chemo. I usually don't feel my worst until my chemo bag is removed, which will be tomorrow. I also get that shot tomorrow which I'm dreading. I dread chemo and all the shots. I haven't dreaded the disease, it is all the process of getting rid of the disease through chemo that I've dreaded.

Yesterday I was asked to write an article for, "Relay for Life". I, of course want to share my journey with others so that hopefully someway they are inspired. I just hope my chemo brain does my writing justice for others to understand and grasp how wonderful it is to have as much prayer you can have on your behalf as you go through this. We can all find something in our day to be joyful about but it does require our effort, especially if this is an area that we need to work on. It is always easy to find the negative and dwell on it but sometimes in that frame of mind, more difficult to find the positive.

Mom just sent me an article where they monitor blood pressure, immunity systems, etc. in those that watched stressful, scary movies and found that the immunity systems, blood pressure and other medical issues were very high. They then had the same group watch something on Mother Theresa and the results were very positive with the immunity systems being boosted, blood pressure lowers and a more positive mind set. So, obviously being positive is good for our bodies. I've never watched scary movies but I've probably worried about things I cannot control way to much. We have to be careful because our health is dependent on more than just our exercise and weight.

This is totally off the subject but my brother and sister-in-law were broken into on Tuesday of this week. It happened between 8-12 in the morning. My sister-in-law came home to her door kicked in and the house totally ransacked. In fact, even their bed was taken apart. They lost their original wedding rings, his rings, class rings, birth stones, brand new large plasma TV, DVD players, camers, laptop with so much personal information on it such as Tax Returns, name it. They are still finding things that were stolen as these guys dumped out all the dresser drawers. They were so picky, the money they found, they sorted through and left the pennies on the bed. It tells you that there are definitely plenty in this group to sift through things like they did. They had my brother's guns laying out on the floor but didn't take them so we are thinking they were spooked or concerned about them being traced. Apparently this is going on alot according to the detectives that were swiping for fingerprints (no fingerprints, they all wore gloves). The local Taco Max was broken in and Sidelines in Marietta was broken in just recently and they say that several robberies have all happened in the same area. Areas are being targetted. If you have dogs, it is better to leave them in the house during the day if you aren't home. Any type of deterrants....

The sad thing is that the the guys returned yesterday to their next door neighbors and after all the guys jumped out of the truck, they went around the house and was trying to steal the golf cart. The lady was home and yelled at them, they became spooked and jumped in the truck and left. Our economy is causing alot of desperate people so please even if you are home during the day....please leave your doors locked. Apparently these guys didn't even look to see or know if someone was home. She was there by herself and didn't want them to come in on her so she yelled first trying to scare them away. Police Enforcement didn't have time to get there before they left. However, I understand, I wouldn't want to call police and wait while the guys were in my house either. You never know what they will do.

So the motto of the day, "Stay Positive and Be Safe". We can replace things but not people. These guys are not being very careful. They are running and gunning so please watch out for yourselves and others. This applies to all of us. The newscaster on the late night news was talking about his own break-in the other night and said it is happening all over.

Take Care, God Bless all of You!
Love ya,

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Endoscopy and Chemo down for this week!!

I have chemobrain very bad so I know my writing, misspells and grammer reflect this. Please excuse this. It is very embarressing but I know it will get better with time after chemo. :-)

Yesterday I had the endoscopy done. The nurses and doctor were wonderful. I had this procedure done in a different building at Emory. They were very efficient. Again, as soon as I started filling out my paperwork on my physical history the anestheiologist (sp), nurses and the doctor all started questioning me because of my age and condition. They kept saying that I fell into the "special" bucket.

The only problem I had was the nurses did not know how to access my port for my IV. They wanted to start it in my hand. I asked them for the best sticker and into my arm. She was a very sweet nurse but I thought she might be better at chopping lettuce on the salad bar. :-) They always say, "great veins this will be no problem" as they start digging into my vein. I've unfortunately have learned the difference. I felt bad for the nurses when they took me back to surgery. It was unbelievablely cold. I was shaking on the table and the nurses were all saying how cold they were. As I shivered I saw my blood pressure keep going up and I heard one of the nurses say we have to find the doctor and put her out. Her blood pressure is going to get too high to do this procedure! ha. I couldn't wait for the medicine at that point. They stuck it in so fast, I was sitting up on my side and I immediately fell to the bed. The doctor say, "whoa, I didn't know the anesthologist was going so fast and grabbed me! It was the last I knew......

They biopsied my esophagus, just to check and said I had a hiatus hernia. They took pictures of my stomach, small intenstine, and my esophasgus in color. I couldn't believe how clean my body looked on the inside. :-) Weird looking at your body internally like that but glad to see normal tissue rather than erosions or black. So things went pretty well.

They asked if they could use my name as Patient of the Month. They have churches and youth groups who use my name for prayer that month. It was encouraging to know that there would be others who wouldn't know me that would be praying and that the nurse at Emory felt that I was the one who should receive the honor.

Today I went for chemo. My lab appt. was at 7 a.m. and we finally got in around 8 am, which was supposed to be my chemo appt. so of course all my appts. got pushed forward. Once they looked at my body chemistry (what they call all the blood work they do on your body), I just made the cut-off to have chemo. 1200 on your white blood count is the cut-off and my count was my NP was walking by and said that she didn't think I would make the next chemo round with my counts still being so low. It would cause delay after delay so..........she ordered the dreaded shot. She said with my age I will definitely get the additional aching and pains for several days as my body is trying to develop more white blood cells.

I want this over but I realized that this might interfere with a tea party that is being done in my honor next Saturday. It was going to be difficult enough to go but I had already told my body that it was going!!! I'm not sure with the additional pain if I'll be able to walk. We'll see it may be just fine. I'm not going to lie. I've tried to avoid it the whole time and now on my last treatment, it isn't an option!!! :-(

Right now, I'm jacked up on alot of steriods, nausea meds, all the chemo, etc. but I'm already feeling weak which I don't do as early in the process so I'm praying that I find relief sooner at the end if it is going to come on so quick! ugh.

I know I can do anything 1 more time. I just pray that the one more time is truly that. It just seems that something else keeps popping up. The great thing about it is that everytime they say that I need to fill out a boatload of information....they look online and say,"oh wow, you already have this taken care of". I tell them that I am the CEO of patients. I don't just stay in one area of the hospital, I just have to visit everyone...all the specialists, nurses, surgical name it. I walk in and people are waving at me. No matter which building or hospital. If it is Emory....they've seen me. Of course, it is nice for others to recognize you but I never thought it would be at medical facilities.

This morning they sent me to the back for a chemo nurse to open my port and set up all my lines. One of the nurses from the lab stopped me in the hallway and asked why I didn't come to see them. She said they were looking for me and wondered if they had done something wrong. I have no idea why they sent me to another area but I couldn't believe she even noticed. I have had to make Steve straighten up since people know us now. :-) No stealing hand cleaner, barf bags, etc.....they would just give it to him if he asked. ha.

Anyhoo-going to lay down, not feeling so well. Thank you for your prayers as always....we will soon be through the worst part of this journey, I claim in Jesus Name!!

Love to all,

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Well,I'm going back to Emory today for a Procedure.

Yesterday after visiting a GI specialist as a follow-up from my ER visit, she wanted to get me in to have an endoscopy before my next chemo appt. which is tomorrow. They just happened to have a cancellation with Emory's esphogus specialist. Yeah for me!! :-) :-( Sad and glad all at the same time because I'm sick of procedures.

However, it is good they are able to get me in today because I do not want the pain I had with the esphogus spasms or so they think. Apparently these spasms are very painful and act like a heart attack so many times people are mis-diagnosed.

So, I have to leave for Emory at 1 p.m., to be prepped for surgery at 2:00 p.m. and in surgery at 3:00 pm. They say that I'll only be in surgery and recovery for about 2 hrs.

So after today, I'll have been at Emory every day this week except Thursday. Oh, I'll be so glad to be out of medical facilities. I've had my fill for a lifetime!! My body is now probably worth close to a half million dollars or possibly more with the surgeries and side bar visits to specialists.

I would not have guessed in a million years that this would have been me. Not that I've ever questioned it but I've always led a clean life so I guess you just assume your health is always going to be there. I guess this just shows us that we are never to assume or take for granted blessings such as our health or other things that we just expect.

One thing I did not expect and that is the awesome support everyone has shown. Mickey Clarke on behalf of my office and our office in Reston, Virginia brought over so many paper goods, drinks, tea, peppermint tea and then left us with money on Sunday!! I felt overwhelmed as I always do when someone shares of their time, their food, money, etc. I just feel so indebted to all of you. The meals, cards, flowers, and overall support that is always being bestowed upon my family. I thought about it all day yesterday on the way to Emory and cried all the way to pick up my sister. I just don't know how to express the gratitude. I can't even begin to give back what others have given to me but I do know that I will pay it forward!

I've never been to a funeral where they talked about the material things that were accumulated in someone's life. They usually never talk about their job or about how smart the person is typically always about the relationships the person had with others. The impact their life made in this world. It is those things that I want to be remembered for. Not the things that I have but the way I might have treated someone who was having a bad day or the relationship with my children and family. It is more important to treat someone with kindness and take a few extra minutes than to quickly snap at someone. I'm always preaching to the choir in my comments but I want my life to have purpose. I want my life to reflect something that people feel and like. I do not want to be the person that others turn away from. I want to be a friend that others are proud to have and to be around.

Well, guess I better run. I have a long day today. Tomorrow starts my chemo again. Please pray that my counts are up and I can have this next treatment. I'm ready for the "end of chemo" party to begin. I dread the chemo, I don't dread the disease. Sounds weird, I know.....

Love to all,

Monday, February 2, 2009

At Emory today for another Specialist Appt.....will blog later.

I also have chemo Wednesday through Friday this week. If you need to reach me for anything, tomorrow (Tuesday) is the only day this week that I'm really free.