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

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bald Is Beautiful.......I Beg To Differ!

Well I did it. Or should I say Ryan did it. I can fully blame him. As I mentioned in my earlier post, my hair really started thinning and falling out the past two days. It was difficult to fix and was becoming a real pain. The funny thing was I had two different nurses at Siteman tell me how great my wig looked yesterday. All I could do was laugh and then I told them it was my real hair. They couldn't believe it because normally my hair would have already fallen out. Then, two other ladies went on and on about how cute my haircut was. Just what I need to hear on the day I am preparing to shave my head!

Last night when I got home I just felt it was mentally time to do it. I wasn't really all that nervous, and to be honest, my scalp was starting to get very tender from all the dead hair. I was worried about waking up in the morning with hair all over my pillow or hair falling out in Charley's breakfast or some other meal I might be preparing. So, I decided that Aug. 27th, 2008 would be the last time I would give in to my cancer journey. The chemo is giving me my life and from here on out, the cancer that I once had can take nothing more from me. The one positive thing, I was really impressed with the shape and size of my head. No wierd moles or birthmarks that I didn't know about. All the hair that is left on my head will go ahead and fall out in a couple of days and then I will officially be slick. I hate to say it, but Britney Spears doesn't have anything on me!

I have posted a few pics of us below, but if you want to see how it all went down, click on the album below. All I ask is that you don't cry. That would be allowing cancer to do it's job. Rejoice and be happy. I am, why shouldn't you!?

Now you see it...............

Now you don't!

My little angel supporting me every step of the way!

This is a bag that Ryan custom-made for me! I love it!

This is a picture of my wig. Not bad.

This is me going out for the first time since "The Big Buzz".

Hair Buzzing

Click on the Album for more Pics!

Chemo Treatment # 2

I was so happy to see that Ryan had actually accessed the blog and did a post on my behalf. What a sweet guy to update everyone on my latest treatment. Yesterday went really well. At 9:30 I met with a dietitian who offered some much needed advice regarding my diet and nutrition during chemo. However, when I met with Dr. Eillis's nurse later that morning, she stressed not worrying to much about what I am eating during chemo as long as I am just eating something. She went on to say that after chemotherapy is complete that Dr. Ellis will begin setting me up on a diet and nutrition plan that will help benefit avoiding any possible chance of recurrence in the future. So, for now, I eat what I want to eat, when I want to eat and then after chemo complete it is on to better eating habits.

My blood counts looked great yesterday. I can thank the $3500 Neulasta shot that I take the day after chemo. Don't worry, I don't have to pay that much for it. I have little to no nausea today, but day 3 and 4 are always worst. I think the Neulasta shot has something to do with that. I know it makes my bones ache for several days which is miserable.

I met a man at chemo yesterday who was given a grave diagnosis last March after hearing that he had been diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. He lives in Illinois and his doctor had basically told him to begin making "arrangements." However, his doctor also said that he was going to go ahead and refer him to The Siteman Cancer Center because they had been known to perform miracles. After chemo, radiation, and surgery, he is now considered cancer free. He, like me, is now undergoing chemotherapy to just ensure that any microscopic cells that might be wanting to set up house somewhere are destroyed. Another miracle at Siteman. God is at work in the lives of the doctors, physicians, and nurses and they want nothing more than for you to believe that you can be healed. I know that a positive attitude has a lot to do with recovery and I can see a direct correlation between the patients and those that you come in contact with at Siteman.

Yesterday also marked the day that my hair officially began to fall clumps. This was very annoying. After washing, drying, and fixing my hair, I had some VERY THIN spots where it was apparent that there was no hair left there. So, last night, Ryan shaved my head. Don't worry, I know everyone is curious to know and see how that went I did take pictures to document the experience. However, you'll have to wait until this evening for that posting, but I can guarantee you it will be worth it.

At first I was a little concerned about posting pictures of my bald head out there for all to see, but then again, that is what this blog is all about. It is a journey of my experience of having HAD breast cancer and now undergoing chemotherapy. I had made the decision that when my hair began to fall out, I would now allow that to happen. cancer took my breast but in turn I took the cancer. The chemo is a result of the cancer so allowing it to take my hair would be giving in. Not a chance. The hair is gone on my behalf...or Ryan's and I couldn't be more happier...just a little bit colder! Ha!

Thank you God for the little to no side effects. Give me strength and a positive attitude over the coming days. Thank you Lord for giving me such a supportive and loving husband who has looked so far beyond my physical body. I love you Lord and pray that you continue to work miracles in my life and that in turn, others lives would be encouraged and strengthened.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

2 down...2 to go....kinda

Woo-hoo! Wasson here.....I just got a call from Mel and she is finished with CHEMO NUMERO DOS!! Only 2 more treatments of A & C and then its onto T!!

I must say, ever since Mel and her mom left yesterday morning, I was called about every hour from Melody wondering how things were going with Charley and just to let me know she was eating or sitting or whatever she was doing at that particular moment. The COOL THING is.....she always sounded completely UPBEAT....completely POSITIVE.....completely COOL, calm, and collected. I don't know how she does it folks! Actually, I do know God is sooooo good to us. We are blessed to be blessed by God and I see it everyday in Melody.

So, Melody is currently at Applebee's outside their hotel awaiting her scrumptious little snack and then they'll hit the road (trust me, Pat's driving....they're HITTIN' the road!) and will be home in no time at all.

God is good.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Here We Go Again

Well, today I leave for St. Louis so that I can have another chemo treatment tomorrow. Lucky me. I didn't sleep all that well last night and I am hoping that I might rest better tonight. Ryan is staying here with Charley and my mom has the honor of driving me up there. I know Ryan hates the thought of not being there with me, but we thought it would be better for him to stay here with Charley. I will need him every second when I get home tomorrow evening.

I would like to round up all my prayer warriors this week. I know I have people constantly praying for me, but I have some specific request if you don't mind.

1. Please pray that I would recover faster from this treatment. I know that the first few days will be difficult, but I would like to regain my strength so that I feel somewhat like a normal person.

2. Please pray that the drive home would be easy. It's always kind of scary to think that you have a 3 hour drive home after a chemo treatment. Pray that I would make it home without getting sick.

3. Please pray that God would give me patience with my family. When I'm not feeling well I tend to be impatient and crabby. I'm not always the most pleasant person to be around. I know that some of you would say that I have an excuse, but I don't agree. Chemo is not an excuse to treat my loved ones poorly. This entire experience has and is robbing me of so many things physically. I don't want it to rob me mentally and emotionally.

4. Finally, please pray for Ryan and Charley while I am gone. Pray for their safety and that they would be protected. It is so hard leaving the both of them, even if it is just for a day. I love them both so much.

Thank you for your prayers.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Blessings Above & Beyond

The past couple of days have been a whirlwind. I really started feeling like my old self on Wednesday. Since then, I have been running around like the mother and wife I was before this whole mess. All the energy I used up in the past couple of days must have finally caught up with me, because today I was pooped. This afternoon I actually laid down for a 2 hour first since last Tuesday! It's hard to believe that in just two more days I will be on my back up to St. Louis. I don't know what's worse; the first treatment because I didn't know what to expect, or the second treatment because I know what to expect. My prayer is that God will bring me out of "chemo world" a little faster than last time. Feeling great the past couple of days has been such a blessing. I am faithful that God will restore my strength after each chemo treatment and give me the opportunity to play wife and mother before getting zapped again. After next week I will have only 6 more treatments. I am looking forward to when I can count down my treatments on one hand.

This past week God not only brought me much needed strength, but He used a number of people to bless our family. These are just a few of the ways God has continued to show Himself to us:

1. We continue to receive wonderful meals from people. I love to cook, but due to my lack of energy, it is not something I feel up to. Having a meal provided twice a week has been such a blessing.

2. My parent's Sunday school class took up a collection for our family to help cover travel expenses to and from St. Louis. Although my insurance pays for my treatment at the Siteman Cancer Center, the expense of traveling back and forth is not covered. What a blessing to be able to apply that towards hotel and gas costs.

3. My friend Mary from New York sent me a generous check to also help cover the cost of travel. Mary is a wonderful wife and mother who is also going through chemotherapy. She and I are actually on the same chemo schedule so we correspond by email frequently to discuss our side effects and offer each other support. What is so incredible about Mary is that she found my blog by googling "faith during breast cancer." After keeping up with my blog for several weeks, she sent me an email and we became instant friends. Despite never having met me, God used her to be a blessing to me. I would ask that you all pray for Mary just as you all pray for me.

4. God used my sister-in-law Kristen to help provide a way for Charley to still be able to attend preschool this fall. She really went above and beyond and once again, God blessed us in a unimaginable way .

5. I received an email from a local Spa letting me know that I had been chosen for a free massage for the month of August. My good friend Kristen (yes, another Kristen) nominated me for a massage that is given away once a month to someone extra deserving. I was chosen as that person and have to admit that I am looking forward to little extra pampering. God had already blessed my life through my friendship with Kristen. He is a God that just keeps giving.

When I was first diagnosed, Ryan and I did the only thing we knew to do and that was to totally turn the situation over to God. We knew that any hardship we faced in the coming months would be battled by our glorious God. I just don't think we could have ever imagined what that would mean. Just as God has used so many people to bless me, I pray that He continues to use me to bless others. I don't have much to offer right now other than my faith in Him. I will continue to honor and glorify Him and I pray that the lives of others would be strengthened as they read of the ways He continues to be a blessing to my family. Our faith continues to grow and despite the hard days that are ahead, we continually look forward to all that God has to offer us. I pray that you and your family would see God's blessings and hear God's whispers as you live each day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I'm case your wondering. It's hard to believe that in just one week I will be on the road to St. Louis for another chemo treatment. I'm just now getting over the last one. The good thing is that I am feeling better. The worse symptom at this point is achy bones. I know this comes from the Neulasta shot that Ryan has to give me 24 hours after my chemo treatment. The Neulasta shot helps get my white blood counts back up to a healthy level so that I can have another treatment, which is a good thing. However, one of the side affects of the shot is mild to moderate bone pain. The best way to describe it is the way you feel when you are achy from the flu and we all know how that feels.

My other major complaint this past week was my chest. Since I have spent so much time sleeping and not up moving around, the weight of my chest was really starting to get to me. I woke up several nights in a row gasping for a breath. The lack of oxygen was making me nauseated. The pain and nausea meant taking more pills which meant more sleeping. I really didn't like the way the pills were making me feel and I knew that I could not continue this pattern until my final implant surgery in December. So, I went to the plastic surgeon today and got deflated. Not all the way, but he did remove enough saline on each side to provide some relief. There was an instant difference. My chest had been so tight before and now there is actually a little give. I'm happy and hopefully I will rest better tonight.

I know some of you are wondering, and yes, I still have my hair. I feel like a weird science experiment. Everyday I wake up expecting to see a huge clump of hair on my pillow. I was told I would start losing it within 10 - 14 days and today is day seven. I figure I have just a few days left with my hair and then it's Asta La Vista Baby. Oh Well. It'll grow back.......right?

Finally, I want to thank everyone who has sent me an email. So far I have received 110 emails and I'm pretty sure I have responded to every single one. All the encouraging words and kind gestures have really helped me the past week. I would like to give an extra special shout-out to Ryan. He has been incredible. God has blessed him with a kind and gentle spirit. He has made every effort to help me, encourage me, and remind me why I am fighting so hard right now. I love him for the husband he is to me, and even more, for the dad he is to Charley. I am truly blessed to have such a supportive and loving family. God is so good and I know He will continue to strengthen me each day.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Chemo stinks. I'm not gonna lie. I am so tired it is all I can do to get up, go to the bathroom, and make it back to the couch. Chemo is a weird thing, especially for me. When I was diagnosed with cancer on June 12Th, up until my first chemo treatment, I never once felt "sick." Even through all my surgery, I never felt as if I had cancer. Now that I actually don't have cancer and am just being treated for preventative reasons, I feel more affected by cancer than I ever have. My bones ache, my throat hurts, I'm tired, I have no energy, and the list goes on. I just can't seem to get it together. The ONLY thing, and I mean the ONLY thing that is keeping me going at this moment is knowing that I don't have cancer, no matter how bad I might feel. I also keep telling myself that this part of the journey will be over in just a few months. I didn't expect everyday to be a walk in the park, but I also didn't expect this to be so hard on my body. I know that God is not going to give me more than I can handle and there is comfort in that.

Please pray that God will give me strength. I am looking for just 10 or 15 minutes where I really feel like playing or reading a book with Charley. I know it seems like such a small, insignificant amount of time, but just 10 minutes would mean the world to me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hanging In There

Well, this is the third day after chemo. This is also the day they say is sometimes worse. I am hanging in there hoping that today and tomorrow won't be all that bad and that next week I will be slowly bouncing back......just in time for another treatment! I wanted to share something with all of you so you can add another young girl to your prayers. I went with my mom last night to her breast cancer support group meeting. It took all I had to make it there, but God clearly showed me His purpose when a newly diagnosed 27 year old walked into the meeting. She had actually just been diagnosed on Monday. I don't know to much about her diagnosis, but I know that she could use a lot of prayer. She is from Korea and does not have any family here in the United States. She is living with her boyfriend who is actually suffering from cancer himself. She has yet to find the right words so that she can tell her family back home. I only had a few minutes to talk with her, but in those few minutes, she was such a blessing to me. Please pray that God would take her hand, just as He did mine, and guide her through every step of this journey. She needs Him and all prayer warriors.

God blessed our family once again this morning when I received an email from a wonderful friend. She had volunteered to send us some gas cards to help cover the expense of our travels. Thank you God for allowing this incredible person to be a blessing in the life of my family. God is so good and is doing so many great things. Praise you Lord!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Made It Home

Ready for Chemo!

I actually started this blog last night after I got home, but I was just to tired to finish it. Ryan and I returned home last night around 7:00. I thought we made pretty good time since chemo didn't actually start until 1:00. I can't say it enough, Siteman Cancer Center is incredible. I believe that everyone who works there has been called there for a reason. Before my chemo treatment I met with Dr. Ellis. Did I mention that he is awesome? I was a little concerned because when I woke up yesterday morning, my breast appeared to be a flushed red color. This made me nervous because I had just had my drains out two days prior and wasn't sure if I might be developing an infection. Dr. Ellis took a look, but didn't seemed to be to concerned, but because he likes to play on the safer side of things, he prescribed me an antibiotic. Then, it was off to chemo. I was lucky enough to get a bed. I like the beds so much more than the chairs/recliners. Once I got back to Pod 5, that was my Pod for the day, I met the kindest nurses ever. Marilyn was my primary nurse and the words sweet, nice, and kind could not even come close to describing her! In no time at all I was hooked up to my port getting a strong dose of anti-nausea meds. Then, it was on to the real good drugs. The Adriamycin took only about 10 minutes to put in. Only 10 minutes and it's the one that takes my hair. Potent little booger! After the Adriamydin came the Cytoxin. That one took a little longer because it can give you ice cream headaches if your not careful. I didn't have a problem with it however, Praise God.

I noticed when I walked into Pod 5 that there was a man on the other side of the room diagonal to me. He was in is late fifties, maybe early sixties. He was dressed nicely and his wife was right there with him. As Ryan and were leaving, he was still there with his wife. We had been talking to those around us about how we were from Springfield and it was quite a drive but that we didn't care because we knew we were getting the best medical care possible. As Ryan and I left Pod 5 and were walking out of the treatment center, the wife of this man approached us. She said she had overheard us talking about driving back and forth to and from Springfield for the next 16 weeks. She said that her husband has always been a diabetic and was just recently diagnosed with congenital heart failure and lymphoma. She then explained that she and her husband live in Chesterfield and have a home with 3 extra large bedrooms that we could come and stay in at anytime. She has some family in Nixa and Ozark so she was familiar with the drive and the expense. All I could do was cry. She gave us her name and number and I'm not so sure that Ryan and I won't take her up on her offer one of these times. God put that woman right in our path, on our way out, in the middle of a conversation Ryan and I were having about wishing we had a place to go back to rather than getting in the car and driving 3 1/2 hours home. Blessed to Be a Blessing! Thank you Charlotte for your kindness and showing God's love to us.

The ride home wasn't to bad. I did have Ryan pull over once so that I could get some nausea meds. They helped and at this point, I am staying on them whether I feel like I need them our not! I have some pictures of my first chemo treatment that I am going to post for all of you at the end of this blog. But first, some praise reports and more prayer request:


1. I have yet to feel that nauseous. I am very sleepy, but sleep can be handled easily.

2. The bowels are working! This is a serious praise!

3. Ryan and I made it home safely.

4. The presence of the Lord was with us yesterday leading us through every step.

Prayer Request:

1. That the next few days I would get well rested and slowly regain the energy I need to function as normal as possible.

2. That God would bless us financially. We have applied for assistance, but it is a waiting process and seems to be just little bits here and there. Although well-worth it, the expense of traveling to and from St. Louis twice a month has added a bit more stress to our already stressful financial situation.

3. That God would give Ryan the strength and energy to take care of his wife, Charley, and the business and that we would all rely heavily on the word of God in the coming months.

4. Finally, that God would continue to allow us to be a blessing to those around us. God's purpose for my life is greater than anything I could ever imagine at this point, but I continue to feel the push and the shove to get out there and spread His word. I can't wait to see what He has in store for me, my family, and all those I come in contact with.

Praise you Lord for your answered prayers and blessings. Be with all those who received chemotherapy yesterday, from the people I met in Pod 5 to my new friend Mary in New York. God protect these people and their families through this difficult time.

My Pre-Chemo Meal: Oatmeal with Walnuts from Panera

The Parkway Hotel - Home away from home

Siteman Cancer Center - My second Home away from Home

Ryan supporting his wife, as always!

I can't believe that this is actually happening!

This was my nurse Marilyn. She is a wonderful woman.

I was freezing. It's not as bad as it looks!

Marilyn is teaching Ryan how to give me my neulasta shot at home. Scary!

I'm glad he got to practice. Hope he does that well on me!

In The Process

Well, here I am. I am laying here in my bed getting my first official chemo treatment. So far, so good. They have given me major doses of nausea meds and I have had my first dose of Adriamycin. I will now officially lose my hair, probably within 10 days. Whoopie! Ryan and I did hit up a wig shop yesterday but just didn't find anything that we really liked for the price they wanted us to pay. We plan of visiting LA Wigs when we get back to Springfield. They had a great selection and were even willing to offer me a discount since I am a cancer patient. I should be done here in about an hour and then we are going to high-tail it home. I am faithful that I will make it home with no problems. This place is so incredible. I plan on doing a blog update later this evening depending on how I feel. Please continue to pray for me. Specifically that I would not experience any nausea and my bowels would begin working properly again. Sorry for that last prayer request, but you have no idea how important that it is! Love you all and God Bless!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

World's Greatest Mom

I have the most incredible mom in the world. I don't know how else to start this post. Yesterday before leaving for chemo, I went by my mom's house to pick up all my medications. My mom had been kind of enough to take all my prescriptions and have them filled for me. Throughout this entire process she has done SO MUCH! It is because of her (and the grace of God) that I am able to get my treatment at Barnes. She is the one that overnighted all my information to Barnes so that I could get a second opinion ASAP. She has also taken care of numerous issues with my insurance. I am so glad that God healed her 20 years ago and that she is here to help through every step. She's been there. She's knows what I can expect.

Yesterday she presented me with a chemo kit to put in my car for our trips up to St. Louis. She had purchased a blanket for me, a small cooler to keep bottled water and lemonade in (she even purchased a pink lemonade for me to take to chemo), a good book to read, a bag of lifesavers to suck on during treatment, a bag of trash bags, a box of Kleenex, an extra pillow, and even a container of wet wipes (don't ask!). As she was giving me all these things I realized how incredibly lucky I am to have a mom that is alive and cares so much about me. I cannot begin to imagine how it must feel to see her daughter go through this. I would be devastated if I had to witness my child go though anything remotely similar.

Mom you truly are the greatest. You and Dad have both gone above and beyond. I love you so much and I know you will be with me in spirit tomorrow. This in an incredible place filled with hope. Thank you. God has had a hand in your life though all of this. He has allowed you to be in the right place at the right time, working efficiently. I could never thank you enough. Please know that you are amazing. I love you and dad so much!

Monday, August 11, 2008

I'm A Free Woman

Today was the day! I finally got my drains out. It wasn't exactly pleasant, but their out and I am never looking back. I honestly wasn't expecting to get them out today. My fluid was pretty much at the same level it had been a week ago. I was very disappointed walking into Dr. Geter's office today. Leaving the drains in meant that chemo would be postponed an entire week. That was something I really didn't want to deal with. I was mentally prepared to have my first chemo treatment this week. One down would mean only 7 more to go. When Dr. Geter came in, I think he could sense my frustration. He explained that because my fluid level was remaining the same, he felt it would be OK to go ahead and take the drains out. What!? Take the drains out!? I'm not prepared for this today! He went on to explain that leaving the drains in to long could cause an infection. I certainly didn't want that!

Dr. Geter left his nurse to do the dirty work and I immediately went into panic mode. I could hardly stand to have her touch me before I was flinching and breathing heavily. Before Dr. Geter had left the room he told me he could give me a local anaesthetic to make it less painful. However, he said that most people prefer to just have the drains taken out quickly rather than be poked with a needle. Sorry, poke me with the needle. I had the nurse go back and get Dr. Geter so he could numb me up. It certainly helped, but it didn't take away all the pain. I was instructed to take a deep breath in and out on the count of three. I know I breathed in, I'm just not sure I ever exhaled. When she pulled out the drain, it made this popping sound on the inside and then I could literally feel it being pulled out of my breast. I know, it sounds weird because it is weird. Ryan was with me and I'm not sure he took a breath throughout the whole ordeal either. I did hear him give a big sigh when it was over. After she did one side, she had to go and do the other. I personally think they should have one person on each side so that they can both be done at once! I'm glad it's over to say the least.

Now comes the hard part. Ryan and I will leave for St. Louis at 7:00 in the morning. I have an appointment at Barnes at 1:00 for an echo cardiogram. This is to make sure that my heart is healthy enough for the Adriamycin. If all goes according to plan, I will start my first chemo treatment on Wednesday at 11:00. I'm feeling a bit anxious and I am sad that I have to leave Charley every two weeks, but I know the benefit of it all will pay off in the end. I will try and update you as often as possible.

I do have one very specific prayer request: Please pray that I would not experience one ounce of nausea during my treatments. I can handle fatigue and an achy body, but I can't handle nausea. I know that God is bigger than any anti-nausea medicine. I don't expect chemo to be a walk in the park, I just need it to be as gentle on my body as possible. Thank you prayer warriors and Praise God for His promise to us!

Saturday, August 9, 2008


I know I just did a new posting a few moments ago, but this is to good to not post right away. A very good friend and fellow breast cancer survivor just sent this to me and I had to share it with all of you! (Thank you Doreen!) If you want to watch the video, you will need to pause the music on the left hand side.

I pray that this video has the same impact on you as it did me!

God Bless!

New Hair and A New Friend

Well, I did it. I chopped my hair off. I am not happy about it, but I know it is going to make things easier when my hair actually starts to fall out. The past couple of days have kind of been a downer because this haircut is not for me. I miss my long(er) hair. The only good thing about it is that it only takes me about one second to style. I am actually kind of looking forward to my hair falling out now. Is that bad? Just about the time I actually get used to it, I expect it to be gone. Oh Well. I'll have my old hair back in no time.....I hope! My daughter, Charley, insisted that she pose with her mommy for the pictures. I could hardly believe that she didn't go running in the other direction when she saw me! As you can see, Charley has a busted lip. Her dang "blankie" has a tendency to get caught up in her feet when she walks. This was a bad fall with a face plant right on the hard wood floor. However, she sure didn't mind showing off her "ouchie" for the pictures!

The past couple of days I have been exchanging emails with a lovely girl who lives in Albany, NY. For quite sometime I had noticed that someone from Catskill, NY was keeping close tabs on my blog. I was thrilled to know that I had a New Yorker keeping up with my journey. Thursday, I received an email from her. She is a wee bit older than I, but not by much. What is strange is that our journeys with breast cancer mirror each other somewhat. She had a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction and is currently undergoing the expansion process as well. We are actually to begin chemo the same day, next Wed., and are going to be taking the same drugs the same amount of time. So, we will not only start chemo at the same time, we will finish at the same time as well. Like me, She is scheduled to have her final implant surgery in December. God is so incredible!

When she first emailed me, she said she came across my blog by googling "faith & breast cancer." Praise God! God is using my blog to reach women all over this nation! I am excited for my new friend and I to begin our chemo journey together. I am sure we will have all kinds of stories to share with one another. God continues to bring so many people into my life. Thank you Lord for your incredible love for me. I pray that throughout this journey I would continue to meet new people and that you would use me as a way to offer them hope. God Bless!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Siteman Cancer Center...Here We Come!!

I have finally found some time to update the blog. I will warn you, this is going to be quite lengthy. As many of you know, on Tuesday I headed up to The Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. The point of my visit was to get a second opinion from another oncologist in regards to my chemo regimen. I wanted to make sure that I was going to receive the best treatment with the right drug combinations. My mom and Ryan both accompanied me to the appointment. Now, before I go any further, I think it is important that you know why we chose Barnes.

Last month, my mom and I attended her monthly breast cancer support group meeting. I was the "newby" and by far the youngest one there. Each woman took the time to introduce themselves to me. One woman in particular mentioned that she always advises anyone with any kind of cancer to seek a second opinion. She explained that she had seen a wonderful oncologist by the name of Dr. Ellis at Barnes in St. Louis. With that being said, my mom and I began to consider doing the same for me. After researching the doctor online, we found that Dr. Ellis had written numerous research reports on breast cancer and that he is currently Head of the breast cancer program at The Siteman Cancer Center. Everyone agreed that I needed to try and get an appointment with Dr. Ellis. My mom began frantically scrambling around to get every film, slide, path. report, and doctor's note from the past two months. Within one week, all my reports had been sent to Barnes and they had called to schedule me an appointment with Dr. Ellis. We were thrilled.

As my mom, Ryan, and myself waited in his office, we began to wonder how our visit would turn out. Would Dr. Ellis be personable? Would he be optimistic? Would he agree or disagree with my diagnosis? Would he find something that I didn't know about it? After a short while, a doctor that works closely with Dr. Ellis came into my room. He asked me some standard questions and went on to say that Dr. Ellis was very interested in my case and that my kind of cancer was right up his alley. After he left the room, we sat there still hoping we had made the right decision. A few moments later, Dr. Ellis entered the room. He was followed by the doctor that had been in just a couple of minutes earlier, a Washington University student doctor, and a nurse. There were now seven people in a small room.

Dr. Ellis introduced himself to us as Matthew. He looked around the room and the first words out his mouth were, "I see we have two breast cancer survivors in the room." I almost fell off the table when I heard those words. I couldn't believe that he considered me to be a breast cancer survivor. Since my surgery, I had always considered myself a survivor; but now a doctor (a really smart doctor) agreed with me. Wow! He then went on to say that his hope was by the end of our meeting we would all feel reassured and more optimistic about my diagnosis. Is this guy for real? With his entourage of doctors, he explained, in very detailed terms, my kind of cancer. What it meant, what it didn't mean, how to treat it, how not to treat it, and so on. He said it was very unlikely that my cancer would ever spread beyond the breast because it was caught early. However, he said if by chance a cell had floated off to a distant location, the chemo would, not may, would kill it.

He mentioned several times that my mom was such an inspiration for me and how I can look at her and know that breast cancer can be beaten. He is so right. When we started talking about treatment he agreed with the drugs I would be given during chemo, but not with the way they were going to administered. Rather than taking all three drugs at the same time over the course of 18 weeks, he suggested I take two of the drugs together four times, for a total of 8 weeks, and then the other drug by itself for the same amount of time. So, instead of having chemo for 18 weeks, it would only be for 16 and it would be easier on my body. He explained that by administering the drugs separately, they work more effectively. Sounds good to me!

When I thought our appointment was just getting ready to wrap up, Dr. Ellis asked if it would be reasonable for me to take my treatments at the Siteman Center. I thought this meant taking my treatments there, but still seeing my oncologist here. No...he meant that I would take my treatments there and that HE would be my oncologist. I could not believe that one of America's Top Doctors (not-kidding) was offering me the chance to be treated by him at a top-notch cancer center. I'm not sure I even thought twice about it. Neither did Ryan. Neither did my mom. Dr. Ellis explained that I will have an entire team of doctors assigned to me, not just one doctor with one nurse. As he left the room yesterday, he stopped to look at me and told me that one of the most important things about the entire process is the relationship an oncologist has with their patients. Then he told me there was NO REASON to believe that I am not cured and will not be cured for the rest of my life. You could feel the presence of God in the room and with each word spoken we were reassured by our decision to come to St. Louis for what we thought was just a second opinion.

I feel overjoyed that I am not only going to get the very best treatment, but I have a doctor who truly believes that I am healed and has my very best interest at heart. The Siteman Cancer Center is a place of hope and I feel so blessed to be a part of something so great. I know this is just another wonderful part of God's plan for my life. I can't wait to see how God uses me each time I go to St. Louis. My prayer is that I can continue to be a blessing to all those I meet throughout this process.

I am currently scheduled to begin chemo next Wednesday, August 13th, at 11:00 am. I still have these dumb old drains (although they are improving) and as you all know they have to come out before treatment. The plan for now is to have the drains out by next Tuesday. On Tuesday, Ryan and I will travel to St. Louis and return home on Wednesday after chemo.

I would like to add that Dr. Ellis was kind enough to prescribe something to help me sleep. It also helps with nausea and anxiety. I took one of the micro-mini pills last night. Are you ready for this......I did not wake up all night long. This is not to say that your prayers aren't working, I just needed a little boost so I could get some much needed rest. Here in about an hour I am on my way to get my pre-chemo haircut. It is probably going to be the shortest I have ever worn it. However, I figure in just a few weeks it is going to be a heck of a lot shorter!

God continues to work miracles in my life. I pray He blesses you in the same way.

I found this video on YouTube. It will give you an idea of how incredibly blessed I am to be a part of Siteman Cancer Center and patient of Dr. Ellis'.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Another Restless Night

Sleep in becoming an issue for me every night. My back hurts so bad and there is no comfortable position. I'm not sure if my back hurts because I have been sleeping on it for three weeks straight, or because I have what feels like a ton of bricks on my chest. Although getting expanded has been such a blessing, I am beginning to wonder if it is the source of the problem. I have heard of women complaining of back pain because of their large bust size, but I never expected to fall into that category. I don't think it is their size, but rather their lack of movement. I would give anything to lay on my side and have everything just kind of relax, if you know what I mean. I do know this, I can't go another four months with only a few hours of sleep each night. With that being said, I am going to put a call into the doctor to see if he can't provide me with any amount of relief. Not getting enough sleep is so frustrating and annoying. I haven't felt well rested since my surgery.

We are headed up to St. Louis today and I am a little worried about the amount of sleep I will get in the hotel. Maybe I'll rest better, but I'm not counting on it. Please pray for safe travels and that my back pain would subside.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Calling On All Prayer Warriors

Prayer warriors, I need your help. There are several important things I need you all to pray for this week. I know it's easier for me if I see a specific list of things I need to pray for, so I will number them off at the end of this posting. This past weekend was great. On Saturday my mom and I put in an 11 hour shopping day. Yes....11 hours......with Charley. We had a such a great time and Charley was an angel. She loves to shop with her mom and Nana! Since I will more than likely, okay, very likely, be losing my hair in a couple of weeks, my mom and I began the search for hats, caps, and scarves, oh my. We were able to find some very cute hats and I am now fully prepared to lose to my hair. Well, I am at least prepared to cover my shiny head, maybe not lose my hair.

This morning I go back to the plastic surgeon for another expansion. I was really hoping to have my drains taken out before we head up to St. Louis tomorrow, but I don't think that is going to happen. Who knows though, maybe I'll go in this morning and for some unforeseen reason, they will decide to take them out. That would be fabulous.

Ok, here are the things that I really need you all to pray for:

1. That my drains would be taken out sometime this week. I really need chemo to start as scheduled.

2. For safe travels as Ryan, Charley, myself, and my parents travel to St. Louis tomorrow.

3. That Dr. Ellis would be receptive to our needs and concerns. That he would either provide reassurance when it comes to my chemo treatment plan or give us a better option that is cutting edge when it comes to breast cancer.

4. For me, that I would begin taking better care of my body through diet and exercise.

5. Finally, that God would continue to use me as a tool throughout this journey.

Thank you all for your prayers. I find such comfort knowing that you are all praying on my behalf. God Bless!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Staying On Track

Yesterday I met with Dr. Geter, my plastic surgeon. I still wasn't able to get my drains out. They are not cooperating very well. However, Dr. Geter was optimistic that I would be able to get them out on Monday......perhaps. Prayer warriors, start praying. Although I have become quite used to them and feel as if they are a part of who I am, I could easily say goodbye and not miss them one bit. A couple of weeks ago Ryan told me a story about a dog he had when he was little. The dog kept killing his neighbors' chickens, so in order to teach the dog a lesson, his dad tied a one of the dead chickens around the dogs neck for several days. I's morbid. Ryan said that after one day, his dog didn't even want to move because he was so sick of the dead chicken rubbing up against him. Unfortunately, the dog didn't learn his lesson despite the punishment because he continued to kill more chickens. I don't blame him. It probably only made him want to kill them even more! Anyway, I kind of feel like that poor dog with a dead chicken tied around my neck. The drains have to go before I go crazy!!

The good thing about my appointment yesterday was that I got expanded.....again. Two more expansions and I am done! I am pretty sore this morning. It is amazing how much the skin will stretch if done gradually. The expansion process is a lot like when a woman's belly expands during pregnancy. The skin is tight and extremely hard. It is really amazing. My cannon ball chest is slowly becoming more like a bowling ball chest. At this point, you would never even know that I had a double mastectomy! Yesterday I asked Dr. Geter how long he has to wait after chemo in order to put in the permanent implants. He told me no less than 4 weeks. So, if everything stays on schedule, and I am faithful it will, my last chemo treatment will be November 24Th. As I have mentioned before, because of insurance purposes, I am desperately trying to get as much done as I can before the end of the year. So, my permanent implant surgery is scheduled for December 29Th! If we make that date it will be by the skin of our teeth. Ironically, December 29Th is my 7Th wedding anniversary to Ryan. Happy Anniversary Ryan! How many other women can say that they gave their husbands "breast augmentation" for their anniversaries?!

The other bit of good news that I have is that next week I will be going to Barnes in St. Louis for a second opinion regarding my chemo regimen. I just want to make sure that I am going to get the most up-to-date treatment and the most effective chemo drugs for my cancer. I pray everyday that I never have to go through this process again. With that being said, if I have to battle it now, I want to do it right the first time. I am looking forward to the appointment. Dr. Ellis is the doctor I will be seeing. He is head of the breast cancer program at Washington University and Barnes. He has done extensive research in the field of breast cancer and I feel so fortunate that I will be able to meet with him and seek his advice. It never hurts to get a second opinion, especially from someone who has been rated one of America's Top Doctors! Thank you Lord!