Note: You will want to mute the music below prior to watching the videos.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Few Changes

Hey Everyone! Wow. It seems like forever since I have posted anything. Things have been extremely crazy to say the least. Today was Charley's 2ND Birthday. It is so hard to believe that two years ago Ryan and I were celebrating the greatest thing to ever happen in our our lives. Now, just two years later, we are facing the greatest fear of our lives. However, we don't allow ourselves to remain in fear for long. We know that God commands us to not be fearful, but rather faithful. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail in this posting, but I wanted everyone to know that I am not beginning chemo tomorrow. After receiving the news that my lymph nodes tested negative, we are leaning towards having the surgery first. However, because of my diagnosis (more on that later) and the aggressiveness of my cancer, we are trying to make the right decisions. Unfortunately, my oncologist is on vacation this entire week, so I have been left with a lot of unanswered questions and no where to turn. I am going to try and get in touch with my primary care physician tomorrow. Ryan and I are both hoping he can help us with some decision making. My plan by the end of the week is to be scheduled for a bi-lateral mastectomy or have had my first chemo treatment. Ryan and I have talked about our situation and probably come up with at least a hundred different ways to handle it. Please pray that God would give us discernment and wisdom in the coming days. We are longing for a feeling of peace in this decision making process. We are also aware that our way may not necessarily be God's way. Finally, please praise God for answering our prayers and giving me negative lymph node results. The journey ahead is a long one, but God is holding our heads up high. Thank you God for all you have done. Please take this cancer from body. Give me strength and healing.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Our Pictures Are Ready!

The pictures we had taken last week are ready to be viewed! If you live in Springfield and ever need pictures taken, I would highly recommend using Jessica Oatman. To access our pictures, go to the link below. Then click on clients and enter charley as the password. All of the pictures are in both color and black & white. They will play automatically. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Today I got some of the best news. Both lymph nodes tested negative for cancer!!! God is so good and just as I was faithful, so were all of you who prayed on my behalf. He heard all of us and our prayers were answered! Since neither of the nodes tested positive, this means that the cancer is strictly confined to the tumor and has not spread! Yea!!! Thank you Dr. Cavagnol for calling me personally to tell me the good news! You made my day! Even though the nodes tested negative, I am still going to receive the same amount of treatment. Ryan and I went to Chemo School today. We were given some very valuable information. My first chemo treatment will be on Monday, June 30Th at 9:30. This is the day after Charley's second birthday. I never would have thought that I would be faced with cancer just two years after her birth. I did ask today about the possibility of having children after chemo. That doesn't look to promising at this point, but I know if God intends for me to have more children, then I will.

Before my chemo class today, Ryan and I visited LA Wigs. We both laughed as we walked in. That was one place that we had never been together. I tried on a couple of wigs. Wigs are weird. Some of them looked better than others, but they all looked liked a wig. I think I am going to be more of a scarf kind of girl. Easy for me to say now. We'll see.

OK, since your prayers are so powerful, I am requesting that you now pray for a smooth chemo treatment next week. I kind of know what to expect, but that first treatment is going to be a scary one. Please pray for little to no nausea those first few days. If I can make it through the first four days, I should be OK. Also, please pray that the genetic test would come back negative. This particular prayer is more for Charley than for myself. I would hate to think that I might have passed this gene down to her. God is so good and I have every reason to believe that He will continue to answer all of my prayers, no matter how big! Thank you all!

What A Long Day!

Ryan and I were finally home last night around 8:30. Charley's Nana and Grandpa (my parents) were in charge of her all day. I'm pretty sure they were as tired as I was once we got home. Thanks Mom and Dad for taking such great care of Charley yesterday! Well, after my quick update yesterday afternoon (I'm still not over that procedure) I waited, and waited, and waited. While I was waiting, my best friend Hilary and her son Zachary came by to visit. She had gotten me some special dental toothpaste and other dental items to use during chemotherapy. Apparently the chemo can do some pretty yucky things to your mouth. Yippee! Just add it to the already long list of chemo side affects. Did you know there is actually something called Chemo Brain? This means that the chemo can somewhat affect your memory and make you feel disorganized and forgetful. I think Ryan is actually hoping I develop a little bit of this so called "Chemo Brain." Ha! Anyway, back to Hilary. For those of you who know her, you know she is an incredible person and would do anything for anyone. I feel so blessed to have such an awesome best friend. If you haven't checked the blog for awhile, she did a posting a few nights ago called Meals on Wheels. Scroll down and check it out and if your interested and be sure to email her. By the time this whole process is over, she is going to need meals provided for her family just to give her some much needed rest. You are the best Hilary and I love you to death!!

OK, back to yesterday. Around 1:30 I was taken back down to the torture chamber, also known as Nuclear Medicine. I am happy to report that this procedure was painless, just a little nerve-racking. The lowered a machine almost down to my forehead where I had to lay very still while a camera took pictures of my breast. This scan helps to give the doctor an idea of where the nodes are located so he can remove them more easily. The entire procedure only took about 20 minutes. Then, it was back up to my room where I dozed until they came and got me for surgery. The best part about yesterday was being put to sleep. I hate to say it, but I loved the feeling of just floating off to a "happy place." Where that was, I don't remember, but I'm pretty sure my "happy place" was anywhere but the operating room. Prior to that, I met with an anesthesiologist who attempted to get an IV started....twice. This is exactly why I had the port put in. I have horrible veins and it always takes more than one try to get an IV in. Once the IV was in place, it was smooth sailing. I spoke with Dr. Cavagnol briefly and then it was sleepy time. When I woke up, I was back in my room (after an hour and half of surgery and an hour in recovery) and Ryan was using his outdoor voice to stir me awake. I do not like his outdoor voice. It was very difficult for me to keep my eyes open and stay awake after having been in such a deep sleep. I did overhear the nurse saying that I wouldn't be able to go home until I woke up, so Ryan and I developed a secret code. If the nurse was coming into my room, he would cough and I would open my eyes. That seemed to work because I was going home in no time.

Ryan spoke with Dr. Cavagnol briefly after surgery and he told Ryan that they removed two lymph nodes from the right breast. He said that he didn't see anything unusual but that the nodes has been slightly swollen. However, Dr. Cavagnol didn't seem to think to much of it. He said they could have been swollen just due to the trauma my right breast has already been through. We are meeting with him on Friday afternoon and we should know the results. Please continue to pray that God would take whatever cancer they may have had. The port for my chemo is actually located on the left side just below the collarbone. I do have quite the incision and right now it looks pretty nasty. I am sore, but not has bad as what I expected. I was unable to lay on either side last night, and being a side sleeper, made sleeping on my back the entire night slightly unpleasant. The worse part today is that my right arm and hand have a little bit of a numb feeling. I'm not sure what that's about, but I am going to call the doctor later today to make sure it's not something to worry about.

Now that yesterday is over, I feel that I am all ready and prepped to begin my chemo treatments. Ryan and I have chemotherapy school today (yes, they actually make you go to school before treatment) and I should know when my treatments will start before leaving. I'll keep you all posted and thanks for the continued prayers.

On one more note....The night before last, Ryan and I were reading a devotion titled, There Will be Storms in Life. It is from the book Men Under Construction by Bob Barnes. He describes five principles that can help us when we encounter those storms that seem to knock our legs out from under us. They are:

1. God has a purpose for our lives.
2. God is for you.
3. We have God's presence.
4. We have the peace of God.
5. We have God's power.

He goes onto to say that when storms do occur, we shouldn't look down, or back, but rather upward toward the heavens, calling out to God for a new vision and a purpose for this event. I know that God has given this storm to me for a greater purpose and I am seeing it unravel everyday.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Worst Pain Ever

I have just experienced the worst pain ever. Thankfully, it is over with. I am currently at St. John's waiting for whatever it is I am supposed to have done next. I am so excited because they actually have wireless internet and I am able to give all of you a quick update. Ryan and I arrived at 9:30 this morning. Upon our arrival, I was immediately put in one of those lovely gowns. I didn't have to wait very long before I was taken to Nuclear Medicine. This is a scary place. I was warned prior to my procedure that it would be the worst part of the entire day. I couldn't imagine how with surgery scheduled the same day. I now understand why they warned me although I don't think anything could have prepared me for the pain I just experienced. Dr. Cavagnol came into to see me and explained that they do not give a local anesthetic because it can interact with the "radioactive dye" that they inject. What am I supposed to do with that information? Obviously I had no choice so we proceeded. The initial stick was not that big of a deal. I mean I did just have a biopsy done two weeks ago. However, when Dr. Cavagnol began injecting the dye, I thought I was going to come up off the table. I'm pretty sure that I was screaming, or at least moaning. I also remember saying that I thought I was going to pass out. In fact, I think I may have said a prayer that I would pass out. Once the needle was out, the pain only lasted a few more seconds (long seconds) and eventually subsided. Now I sit and wait. I will be taken back down to Nuclear Medicine within about an hour for some imaging. After that, it is back to waiting until I am taken to surgery for my port. Dr. Cavagnol and I have decided that for the procedure this afternoon I will be put to sleep rather than just "sleepy." I will have to go to recovery for about an hour, but it will be worth it. I do not want to be awake for anything else the rest of the day.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Meals On Wheels

Melody has been blessed to have SO many friends that care for her. She has gotten lots of offers to help with food, babysitting, and other household chores. This is where I come in. My name is Hilary and I am "officially the meal organizer". In order to make Mel and Ryan's life a little easier and to eliminate lots of incoming phone calls, I am going to organize a meal schedule. This is how it is going to work. If you would like to be on an e-mail list to sign up for meals let me know by e-mailing me at . Right now, Melody is thinking she would like meals two times a week. This might change...she will let me know if they need them more or less. Mel and Wasson LOVE all types of foods. They do not have any allergies and they like spicy. They don't have any dislikes or personal preferences.

There is also another way you can help. If you don't cook but would like to participate you can always mail gift cards for pizza delivery, carry out, etc to the Wasson's. If you e-mail me I can give you their home address. One other thing is if you chose to sign up for meals please try to put your food in a disposable dish or foil pan. That way they do not have to worry about returning your favorite casserole dish or plate during this busy time. Well, I look forward to hearing from you so that we can bless Mel and Wasson with yummy dinners. Thank you for taking such good care of Mel. E-mail me. Hilary Peacock Austin

I'm Tired!

Wow. What a day. I think this is the first time I have actually sat down all day, with the exception of dinner and when I had blood drawn. Whew. I know most of you are probably wondering how my dentist appt. went. Well, I am proud to announce that I did remember where I was and did not make a complete fool of myself. Some of you were actually kind enough to remind me of my appt. today and I am grateful. I have to say that when they put the X-ray protector on me, I couldn't help but smirk. The thought of wearing only that was amusing.....and somewhat scary. Despite the crazy, stressful day, some good did come out of it. First, I had no cavities and my teeth were in great shape. For those of you that know me, you know that this is not common. I have bad teeth. Always have, always will. However, God was gracious today and for once I was able to walk away from Dr. Rosen's office with a "clean bill of health." I was also comforted in knowing that Dr. Rosen's office is praying for me. I am amazed by the banner of prayer that Ryan, Charley, and myself continue to receive. Keep it coming!!!

After the dentist I ran a few more errands in preparation for Charley's 2ND birthday this Saturday. I am so thankful that I won't have to begin chemo until the following week. Once again, God has been so gracious in His timing. Thank you. From there it was on to to the hospital for some pre-admission paper work and lab work. Tomorrow is what I consider the "kick-off" to chemo and treatment. Tomorrow is the day I get my port. For those of you who are not familiar with a port, it is a small device that goes under the skin between the breast and collarbone. The port will be used to directly administer chemo without having to find a vein and do an IV each time. I will have the port until I have surgery in November. I am so anxious about this procedure. A part of me can't wait because that means I am one step closer to being cancer free, and another part of me is scared, anxious, and somewhat fearful. I know having the port will make this whole ordeal much more real. The port will symbolize that I am sick and will be a reminder that I have cancer. Heck, now that I think of it, the port shouldn't be a big deal at all. If I want a reminder, I'll get that in a few weeks when I lose my hair!! Never mind.....Bring on the Port! I check into the hospital at 9:30 tomorrow morning but the procedure won't actually begin until after 12:00. In addition to the port, they will be doing a biopsy on my lymph nodes. I'm not sure if we'll know anything tomorrow, but please continue to pray that they would be negative. The less involvement, the better. Charley will be spending the day with her Nana and Grandpa so I know she will be in good hands. Hopefully I will have enough energy when I get home to give you all a quick update.

I also heard back from my OBGYN today regarding my annual exam that I had done last week. ALL CLEAR!!!!! This was very comforting to hear. I now have one less thing to worry about. I am working very hard on keeping all my medical issues above the waist....OK, above the ribs and below the shoulders.

Thank you for your continued prayers and please don't give up on me. I know sometimes we feel like we are repeating ourselves or that our prayers become redundant. However, I know a God who hears our prayers and especially those that are repeated over and over and over. We show our faithfulness to Him when we don't give up and continue to ask for His healing hand to come upon us.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Sneek Peek at Our Family Pics

I mentioned in my previous post that we had family pictures taken this morning. Jessica has posted a few on her blog and I would love to share them with you. She is so amazing! Enjoy the pics!

Finding The Right Genes

I can't believe it has been one whole day since I have posted anything! Ha! Yesterday afternoon our power was knocked out due to a mother storm and I wasn't able to access the internet all day! Going without the internet has got to be similar to going without food and water. OK, maybe not that bad, but Ryan and I both go into panic mode when we can't access the internet. I know, we're pathetic. Anyway, yesterday Ryan and I met with a genetic counselor. She went over a lot of information in regards to the breast cancer gene. There are a lot of stats involved, but basically, if I have the gene, I am also at risk for developing ovarian cancer in addition to the breast cancer. It was important for me to have the gene test done so they will know what to do with my ovaries. If I test positive, they will check my ovaries to make sure there is nothing going on with them currently. If they are OK, I can keep them for maybe another 10 years or so and then I would need to have them removed. If I don't have the gene, they won't even mess with any testing right now. That is our prayer. The good thing is that ovarian cancer does not run in my family so I feel that threat is much less. If for some reason there is something wrong with my ovaries, they will have to be removed immediately. So, for $3150 I had some blood drawn and will know if I carry this gene in about two weeks. Don't worry, my insurance is paying for the test. Thank goodness.

I woke up today discouraged because it was pouring down rain. Ryan, Charley, and I had our family pictures scheduled for today. This was so important to me because I wanted to have pictures taken before starting chemo. As it was lightning and thundering, I began asking God to please clear the skies just long enough for us to have pictures. We were supposed to meet Jessica, our photographer, at 9:30. By 9:00,the rain had stopped and the sun was shining. God is so good. Jessica was awesome to work with. I plan on sharing some of the pictures with you as soon as they are processed and ready to go. Her work is incredible. If you need a good photographer I would recommend her. Her website is Even if you don't need a photographer, I would suggest taking a look at her web site. She has a 2 year old son currently undergoing treatment at St. Jude's for leukemia. She is also expecting a baby girl in about a week. Her awesome attitude and kind spirit really encouraged me. She worked around my hectic schedule and I look forward to working with her in the future. Thanks Jessica!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Boy Are We Busy

I am worn out. I can't believe that it is already Wednesday. Where has this week gone? On top of all my appointments, I am taking Charley to the doctor this afternoon. She has a funky rash, a fever, and refuses to leave my side. I'm telling you, when it rains, it pours. This morning I had an appointment with my OB. She did her little exam, and hopefully all will turn out OK. She also did a breast exam. This would the third day in a row that someone other than myself has felt my breast. This is becoming such a common "event" during my appointments. Go in, undress from the waist up, lay back, arms above head, touchy-feely time, get dressed. I have a dentist appointment next Monday and I am hoping I don't forget where I am. I would hate for him to come in and find me sitting there with my top off and wearing only the X-Ray protector. You might be laughing, but with all the appointments and running from here to there, I feel like I am losing my mind. Someone might want to remind me that I am going to the DENTIST on Monday.

I briefly discussed with the OB fertility issues. She told me that during Chemo I would most likely be infertile. Her hope is that 3 to 6 months after Chemo my body would be back to normal (except for my chest) and that having additional children would be possible. Ryan and I aren't considering more children at this point, but it was nice to hear that it could still be possible if we so choose.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Houston.......We have a surgeon!

Last night was not a good night. I did not sleep well at all. I kept waking up thinking about my current situation and wondering if I am taking it all serious enough. I mean, I do have cancer after all. I began to wonder if I should be more upset or angry. Why am I not just boo-hooing all day, everyday? Why am I not absolutely terrified? Why am I able to feel confident about my situation and make jokes about selling my nipples on Ebay? Seriously, is there something wrong with me? Then I am reminded that I am in control of how this process affects me. There is no going back. There is no way around treatment. I will have chemo, no matter what, and since I am choosing to be more aggressive than my cancer, I will have a bi-lateral mastectomy. How I handle this process is completely up to me. I'm not going to lie. It is very overwhelming. By the end of next week I will have been to seven different doctor's appointments. That is not normal. However, despite all the appointments, each day gets a little easier. I know that I am one day closer to being cancer free and moving on with my life.

Today Ryan and I met with Dr. Cavagnol. He is going to be my surgeon. Both Ryan and I were very impressed by his level of knowledge. He was able to tell us that the tumor is not being fed by my hormones. That basically means that this breast cancer did not develop because of an over abundant amount of estrogen or progesterone. Therefore, I will not have to be placed on hormone therapy drugs. Because of my age and the aggressiveness of my cancer, he believes that it is a genetic issue. I am going to meet with a genetic counselor on Thursday. I will then have the gene test completed but it will take up to a couple of weeks before we have the results. If I have the breast cancer gene, it means that I had a 90% chance or better of getting breast cancer and that I also have a higher chance of developing other kinds of cancers. Because I have decided to have the chemo first, Dr. Cavagnol, myself, and Ryan all agreed that getting the gene test done quickly is a good idea. Next Tuesday, Dr. Cavagnol is going to put a port in and at the same time do a biopsy of my lymph nodes. This is where we hope that no lymph nodes are involved. It doesn't matter based on treatment, but if no lymph nodes are involved, none will be removed during surgery, and it will mean that the cancer is strictly confined to the breast.

Dr. Cavagnol was very supportive of a bilateral mastectomy and made me an appointment with a plastic surgeon next week. By waiting to have the surgery after chemo, Dr. Cavagnol told us that the mastectomy and reconstruction would take place at the same time, meaning I would have one less surgery. We mentioned to him that our goal is to be through this entire process by the end of the year and he seemed to think that was reasonable. Please continue to pray. I know because of your prayers Ryan and I are able to get through each day. This is not something I could do without everyone calling out to God on my behalf. He hears all of our cries and He will prevail!

On one final note, I received a beautiful flower arrangement from our dear friends Tom & Beth. Thank you guys so much. They are absolutely gorgeous! In addition, I received an awesome Wine Country gift basket from our friends Tyler and Hilary O'Banion and Honora and Ryan Bates. I can't tell you how excited Ryan is to dig into the crackers and cheese spread. My best friend Hilary has volunteered to do numerous things and be the meal coordinator. There will be more information on that at a later date. Please know that if I don't give you a direct shout-out, it doesn't mean that your kindness has gone unrecognized. We truly appreciate what everyone is doing for us. We know there are a lot of people out there who care about us and we feel so incredibly blessed to have such a strong support system. Thank you all!

Flower Arrangement

Wine Country Gift Basket

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Plan of Action

Today Ryan and I met with my oncologist, Dr. Hoos. I still can't believe that I have an oncologist. Wow. Dr. Hoos answered a lot of our questions. However, if he would have had the time, I think Ryan and I could have stayed there all day and night asking more and more questions. He asked me a little bit about my family's health history and as I began to tell him I soon realized that my family is riddled with some kind of cancer. He did a quick examination and said because of the size of the tumor (1.3 cm = about .5 inches) and the fact that he couldn't feel any swollen lymph nodes he is diagnosing me with Clinical Stage 1 breast cancer. The only reason it is labeled "Clinical" is because all of the test have not come back and until either surgery or futher testing, there is no way to know if the cancer has spread beyond my breast tissue. Stage 1 is what we are praying for and since that is what he believes it is at this moment, that is what we are going with. Dr. Hoos then began to discuss treatment options. The first thing to determine is what kind of surgery will be performed. Ryan and I meet with the surgeon tomorrow. However, Dr. Hoos, Ryan, and myself all agreed that having a mastectomy on my right side and prophalactic on my left side would be the most aggressive way to treat the cancer at my age. This is something that we will discuss further with the surgeon, but as of right now, Ryan and I have decided that this is the action we will take.

Next comes how to treat the cancer with medicine. Dr. Hoos said that basically there are 3 "generations" of chemo treatment, with the 3rd generation being the most aggressive. I bet you can guess which "generation" he wants to use as treatment. That's right, the third one. This consist of only 6 treatments over the course of 18weeks. Basically, I would have a chemo treatment every 3 weeks. With this kind of intense treatment, I would basically fall victim to all of the nasty side affects...severe nausea, weight loss/gain, and hair loss. Yippie. I am at least hoping that if I have to suffer from nausea and hair loss that I will lose weight rather than gain. I have been struggling to lose about 6 pounds for a month now! With impending surgery and chemo looming in the near future, the only decision for Ryan and I to make is which one we want to do first.

At this moment, having the chemo first seems like a better plan of action. This means that I will probably recieve a port sometime this week or the beginning of next week. Within the next couple of weeks I will have my first chemo treatment. During this time they will do the gene test. Within a few weeks I will know whether or not I test positive for the gene. This will not change my treatment plan, but rather benefit me for the future. If I test positive for the gene, there is an increased risk for developing other kinds of cancer. However, with surgery, those risk are decreased tremendously, especially if there are no lymph nodes involved. When your breast are removed, so is 98% of your breast tissue. So the likey-hood of breast cancer returning is slim to none and if no lymph nodes are involved, the likely-hood of developing a different kind of cancer is unlikely as well.

One of the questions that I asked Dr. Hoos was how it was possible to not feel anything in my breast one day and than have something show up all of a sudden. He explained to me that the human fingertip is not able to feel something under the skin that measures less than 1cm. Since my tumor is 1.3 cm I have to believe that I caught it as early as possible. Having the chemo before the surgery will also allow Dr. Hoos to evaluate whether or not my tumor is responding to the medicine. If my tumor disappers or even shrinks significantly we will know that the treatment is working. I know this may sound crazy, but I just feel like if I do the chemo first, the hardest part will be over with. Also, having chemo and still having both of my breast just makes me think I will feel like less of a victim to my cancer than if I were to have surgery first. I also like to think of it this way.....the next four months of my life will be the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. In return, I get to reward myself with a boob job.

An Incredible Sunday at Church

Yesterday morning Ryan, Charley, and myself all attended church. I was once again amazed by the out-pouring of love. One of Ryan's friends, Chris Foth, invited us to start coming to his life group. Life groups are like Sunday school, except they meet outside of the church every other week. Ryan and I had just been talking about how we wanted to try and get involved in a life group this coming fall. I guess God thought it would be a better idea for us to get involved sooner than later! We are looking forward to connecting with a small group, especially in a time of such need. Before the service began, I was able to visit with my radiologist, Dr. Hedgepeth, who also attends James River. He had done the biopsy the week before. I could do nothing but hug him and thank him. He apologized and there were some tears shed. I introduced him to Ryan and he introduced us to his wife. I'm not sure he nor I knew what to say and when your in a moment like that, all you can do is call out to God, and that is exactly what Dr. Hedgepeth did. He grabbed Ryan and I, and right there in the middle of the aisle, began praying for us. Thank you Dr. Hedgepeth. I think it is important for you to all know that I did not know Dr. Hedgepeth before this entire experience. James River is a church of 11,000 people. Although Ryan and I are involved, there is no way you can possible know everyone. When Dr. Hedgepeth walked into my room the day I had my mammogram, I immediately recognized him from church. The first words out of my mouth where "Do you go to James River?" For some reason, prior to all of this, I had noticed Dr. Hedgepeth several times at Sunday morning service out of the thousands that attend. Little did I know, this man would play a part in my journey.

During service, Ryan and I went forward for prayer. At that time we met a man whose sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30. She is now approaching 20 years as a survivor. I cannot begin to tell all of you the number of people I have met or know that have had breast cancer themselves. At times, it seems like it is an epidemic. However, the stories I hear are so encouraging. In the past couple of days Ryan and I have discussed how crazy it is to be dealing with this at such a young age. Although we don't completely understand why, we believe that God has given this to us now so that I don't have to miss out on Charley's life later on. She will never remember this time in her life and I am so thankful for that.

I meet with the oncologist today at 1:20. I will post an update later this afternoon when I have more information. Also, with all the stress of everything, my body is starting to suffer. My neck is tense, my head hurts, I am getting an ulcer in my mouth, and there are times where my chest feels so tight. Please add to your prayers that my body would gain strength so that it would be ready for the future.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Hi Ryan! Happy Father's Day! Charley and I love you more than you could possibly ever know! I know this Father's Day is one that will stand out in our heads for the rest of our lives. I want you to know that you are an incredible dad. Charley is so blessed to have you in her life. As your daughter, she sees you in a way that no one else can. I see the way she lights up when you walk into a room. I hear the way she calls out for you. Thank you for all you do. She is learning the value of having an amazing father in her life. You are molding her into the amazing person she will become. I know that we could never have predicted that almost exactly two years after the birth of Charley we would be faced with unimaginable circumstances. God has given this to us to deal with now because He has great things in store for our family in the future. I am ready to jump feet first into this journey with you by my side. Thank you for your unconditional love, support, strength, and courage. We are in this together! Happy Father's Day to the greatest man I know.

My Top-Ten Favorites (In honor of Father's Day)

1. You feeding Charley her first bottle.

2. Charley sitting in your guitar case listening intently as you play your guitar and sing to her.

3. Building Forts with her.

4. You and Charley sitting in the boat (that is in the drive-way) pretending to fish.

5. Having swim lessons with Charley starting when she was only 9 months.

6. Taking Charley to the beach and her first bike show.

7. Watching you swing Charley for the first time.

8. Charley riding on the lawn mower with her Daddy.

9. Charley and her daddy making trips to Turner's Station for cookies.

10. Watching our family grow closer every day.

Thank you God for your blessings.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Out-Pouring of Love

Where do I even begin? I am amazed by the incredible people who have rallied around me and behind me just since Thursday. I have had an abundant amount of emails from best friends, old friends, new friends, people I have only met once or twice, and from people I only see from time to time. As many of you know Ryan, Charley, and I attend James River Assembly in Ozark, MO. We are both currently in a fitness class (boot camp) three times a week. On Friday, our classes took time to rally around both Ryan and I and just pray for us. Ryan had the opportunity to share with one of the pastor's our current situation. He quoted the scripture from James that I have posted on my blog. He also told Ryan that he couldn't help but feel that God was going to create a miracle. Last night we spent an evening with Hilary, Kevin, and Zach. Hilary gave me a pink beaded bracelet with a charm. One side says Promise and the other has a pink ribbon. Today I got an email from one of the most wonderful girls I have ever met, Kristen Feola. She had ridden in a 50 mile bike ride for the Breast Cancer Foundation and wore a pink ribbon in my honor. Another wonderful friend, Becca (my hair-stylist), is taking time out of her weekend to actually cut and color my hair this evening. My appointment was originally next Thursday, but because we don't know where we will be in this process, she is willing to sacrifice time with her family to make me look beautiful.....and she always does! Today, Ryan, Charley, and myself spent time in Branson shopping with my parents. It was nice to spend time as a family. Thank you God for an incredible amount of support!

***If you want to view the video below, you will need to pause the music on the right side.

Worth it all~~Song by Rita Springer

Some Things You Should Know & Some Things I Should Tell You

I want to begin by saying, this is going to be a rather lengthy post, so please take time to read it when you have time. First of all, Praise God! I actually had a decent night's sleep. I have been going to bed later which I am not used to, but at least in the wee hours of the night I am able to rest. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this blog has been created to serve a multitude of purposes. I want an out. I need a place to bring my anger, my fear (and yes I do have some), my grief, and my struggles. However, more important than any of those things, I have created this blog so that others can read of God's love and the miracles only He can perform. I know He is using me to strengthen the faith of all those who read this. I am a little surprised that He chose me, but as it says in Jeremiah 29:11, I know He will not bring harm to my life, only things that give me hope and allow me to prosper. Finally, I want other women (and perhaps a hand-full of men who might be reading this) to be inspired by my story. I hope to save other women's lives through this blog.

I want to give all of you a little history and help you understand how this whole thing came to be. My great-grandmother died of breast cancer at the age of 44. My paternal grandmother also had breast cancer in her fifties. She won her battle and went on to live another 20 years. At the age of 35 (and we thought that was young), my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in the 4th grade. Six months after her first diagnosis, she was told she had cancer in her other breast. The cancer had not spread from one breast to the other. She had a completely different kind of cancer in the other breast. When the whole thing was said and done, she had a double mastectomy with no reconstruction. The greatest thing is that she is still alive after 20 years! She survived and so have so many other women. Because of my mom's history, I had been very proactive in doing self exams. I had my first mammogram and ultrasound at age 25 before having children. These tests both showed nothing. That was just three years ago. At the time, I was told by the radiologist that it wouldn't be necessary to have another mammogram until I was in my early 30's and after my child-bearing years. A year later I gave birth to Charley who will be two in just two weeks. I knew I wanted to be done having children by the age of 30, so Ryan and I had planned to try and get pregnant this summer. I had decided that prior to getting pregnant I wanted to get a mammogram just as a precautionary measure. My doctor ordered it for me with no hesitation. I had no reason to get one other than I wanted one. I was continuing to do self-breast exams and had not felt anything suspicious. My appointment was scheduled for March 28th. However, somehow I thought it was in May, so I missed my March appointment. I rescheduled my appointment for June 2nd, still not feeling anything unordinary. About 3 weeks before my appointment is when I discovered this lump. Within a two week time period I had a mammogram, an ultrasound, a biopsy, and discovered that I have breast cancer. The only reason that I know about the cancer is because of early detection. I do have a strong family history, but just because breast cancer doesn't run in your family doesn't mean that you need to be passive. Women survive breast cancer because of early detection. Had I not caught this when I did or had I chose to ignore it because of fear, it would have continued to grow and spread. Please allow me to be an example. Tell your friends and loved ones about me. Perhaps lives will be saved.

Next week is a busy week. Monday I see the oncologist. Tuesday I see the surgeon. Wednesday I see the OBGYN. Ryan and were hoping that the doctors' offices would just start me a tab! Ha! I talked to my mom last night on the phone and I asked her to pray a very specific prayer and I am going to ask all of you to do the same. Remember the rules: If you read this blog, you are required to pray for me and my family. Please pray that although we know the cancer is aggressive, that it has not spread to ANY of the lymph nodes and that we caught it early. Also, please pray that any treatment I have to receive would be quick and easy on my body. Thank you all for the prayers. I am encouraged each and every day!

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance". James 1:2

Friday, June 13, 2008

Doctors, Doctors, & more Doctors

Ryan and I went to the doctor yesterday to just get some general information. He couldn't tell us much because he does not have all the tests back, but he gave me a run down of pretty much how things will go from here. Next week I will meet with a surgeon who will discuss with me my different options. I will either have further testing done to determine whether the cancer has spread to any of my lymph nodes, or I will have the surgery first and at that time they will remove some lymph nodes and test them. From that point I will begin seeing an oncologist who will begin my treatment. I was able to get a copy of my pathology report yesterday and my diagnosis is "invasive poorly differentiated ductal carcinoma." This means that the cancer is not contained within the milk duct and has invaded some of the breast tissue. How much, we don't know. It was also labeled as Grade 3 of 3 which means that I have the most aggressive kind there is. I know, it just keeps getting worse. However, the word aggressive just means that it is a fast growing cancer and normally all breast cancer in a woman my age is aggressive because of hormones. The good thing is that I caught it early. The size of the tumor is only about 1/2 inch. At this time, after discussing it with the surgeon, Ryan and I are hoping for a mastectomy on my right breast and prophylactic surgery on my left, meaning they would also remove my left breast even though it does not show signs of cancer at this time. This procedure would be followed by reconstruction, probably a separate surgery, and then some kind of chemo therapy. With women my age, they treat the cancer very aggressively. So, basically I am in for a long haul the next several months.

Update: I just spoke with a nurse from my doctor's office and I will be seeing a surgeon next Tuesday morning and the oncologist that afternoon. We will know so much more after meeting with them both. Our thinking is that if I do end up having surgery it would be the last week in June.

A Day I Will Never Forget

I have breast cancer. I can't believe it when I say it, type it, or talk about it. breast cancer. Those are two words that will change my life forever. I will not capitalize those words, ever. They do not deserve to be recognized in a bold way. I am BIGGER than breast cancer. This blog is being created to express my emotions, keep those close to me informed, and more importantly keep a "diary" of a journey that I hoped my family and I would never have to take. However, this diary is not locked and hidden away, it is wide open for all to see and read. I love seeing how God works in our lives and what better way than to keep a journal. My goal is to look back on this blog in the future and see all the ways God performed miracles in my life. I hope throughout this journey, everyone reading this will learn valuable lessons and that their lives would be changed as well. I will not become a victim to this disease and I will not let it win. If you do choose to read this blog and join me on my journey, all I ask is that each time you read a new post, you would stop and say a prayer for me and my family. With that being said, it's now time to kick this cancer's butt.