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

Friday, November 28, 2008

Adios Chemos

Well I did it. I had my last chemotherapy treatment on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. I actually completed 8 treatments with the first four being Adriamycin and Cytoxin and the last four being Taxol. It's hard to believe that I stared chemo at the beginning of August, had my surgery in July, was diagnosed in June, and discovered the lump in May. Boy has it been a whirlwind of events since the beginning of all this. I am so thankful that my God held my hand through every treatment, every tear, every doubt, and every angry moment. Thank you God for never giving up on me.

Secondly, thank you Ryan for your unconditional love. If there is one thing that chemotherapy does to you, it really messes with your hormones and your mood. I wouldn't be being honest if I said that I never got angry or mad at Ryan at least once during each treatment. If you have had chemo, you understand what I am talking about, if not, don't bother asking. A good example of what chemo does is occurring at this very minute. It is currently 1:22 am and I am posting this blog. Not because I am just so excited to do a post, but because the steroid I am currently coming off of gives me more energy than I can stand. I will be lucky if I dose back to sleep tonight. Actually, if I leave about right now I bet I can get a great spot in line at Best Buy or Kohl's for Black Friday shopping! thanks! Anyway, back to what I was saying, Ryan has been a huge stepping stone for me throughout this entire process. I wasn't exactly the easiest person to live with before all of this, and then with chemo added to the mix, I know there were days where Ryan was just praying that he would make it through the day....and he always did, by the grace of God. Although I am Charley's mother and always will be, Ryan had to play the roll of Mr. Mom on several occasions. On the few nights I did feel like reading a book to Charley before she went to bed, I would always notice that she was able to point and say the different names of pictures that she had not been able to recognize before. I knew that Ryan had taught Charley these things and in those moments I realized there were some things I had missed out on.

Ryan and I definitely had our moments. I'm not going to lie. Not everything was always "peachy." In the same way I was fighting to beat breast cancer, Ryan was watching me fight breast cancer, feeling helpless, as if he should be the one with the cancer, not me. I think all to often I forgot how those closest to me were also affected by my cancer diagnosis and I have had to remind myself several times that I am not the only victim. Everyone had to deal with it in their own way. Ryan, you were an amazing husband to me throughout all of this. Your were ALWAYS there for me whenever I needed you. You took the weight of the world upon your shoulders and you rarely blinked an eye. You took care of Charley, you took care of me, and you continued to run a business and support your family the best way you knew how. I love you more than you could possibly ever know. You are such an incredible man of God and I have been blessed by you and Charley everyday. The screaming, laughing, and craziness is just what I needed.......sometimes! I love you!

Not only was I a wife and mother suffering from breast cancer at such a young age, I was also a daughter, an only child. My mom knew the battle I was up against when I was diagnosed. She had been diagnosed almost exactly 20 years earlier. She told me it wasn't going to be easy and when it was over I would wonder how I ever made it through. It certainly wasn't easy. That part she was right about. However, I know I made it because of the grace of God, and because of people like her, my dad, Ryan, my in-laws, and so many others who refused to give up on me. We were all suffering in one way or another in the beginning and honestly, I can't imagine what it must have felt like to hear that their only daughter had breast cancer. I pray those are words that my ears never have to hear. I would do it all over again, and again, if I knew it would spare my child. My mom and dad did countless things throughout this process that helped tremendously. One of those things was always giving me encouragement. When I would question the decisions I had made or just feel doubtful, my mom was always there to reassure me. That made a huge difference coming from my mom who had been through this exact thing 20 years earlier, and was still alive!! My dad called me every day that I had a treatment. He would call me from work just to wish me luck, tell me he loves me, and always to tell me how proud he was of me. The past week was extra special when he called to tell me that I had done it, I had beaten the cancer and the chemo journey was going to finally be over. I love you mom and dad and I could NEVER repay you for what you have done for Ryan and I throughout this journey.

My in-laws, Roger and Sharon, were also a huge help. They watched Charley numerous times over the past 5 months and were always there when we call at the last minute. We still do that!!! Our families have grown so much closer through all of this. Something like cancer really makes you value the importance of family and friends.

I could go on and on forever about all the people who have changed my life and made an impact. This post mentions the people closest to me. In the coming days and weeks I plan to write about more people who touched my life throughout this journey. For now, the chemo journey has ended and in the words of Dr. Ellis, "You are cured." Praise Jesus!

Final Treatment.....Number 8!

Click on the Album for more Pics!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The End is Near.....Take 2

This time last week I was gearing up for my last chemo treatment. I was so pumped. Well, that treatment never happened and really put me in a slump. I couldn't believe that I would have to wait another week for my last treatment. Now, a week later, I am "gearing up" again for what WILL BE my last treatment. Despite it being the last one, I don't feel quite as relieved and excited as I did last week. Perhaps this will change as Wednesday approaches and it becomes more of a reality. I poured so much energy and emotion into last week only to have it ripped right out of my hands. I guess that's why I am not getting my hopes up again. I will celebrate when the treatment is actually over.

Here are the pics that Ryan and I took last week before we went out for our "celebratory" dinner. I guess we'll be having another "celebratory dinner tomorrow night.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Counting Down The Days......Again.

As you have probably read already, my scheduled chemo treatment for yesterday was postponed. Talk about a total let down. Ryan and I had been out the night before for a wonderful "celebratory" dinner at P.F. Changs and then to a movie. We were both glowing at the thought that I had finally come to the end of my chemo treatments. Yesterday morning my appointments went as scheduled. First I had my labs drawn. Then is was off to see Dr. Ellis where Ryan and I both expressed our joy. We couldn't believe the day was finally here. After looking over my paperwork, of which did not include my labs, Dr. Ellis looked at me and said "See, you made it. Time flies when your having fun, right?" He then looked at me and said, "Congratulations, your considered cured." It felt amazing to hear those words. Before he left the room I had a few questions I wanted to get answered. He suggested I get dressed and then we would discuss whatever necessary. As Ryan and I sat there waiting for Dr. Ellis to return, all we could think about was getting over to chemo and getting started. Then, Dr. Ellis walked in with a piece of paper in his hand and gave me a slightly disappointing look. I immediately asked him what was wrong. He sat down and bluntly stated that my white blood cell counts were to low and that they were not going to treat me this week but rather next week. Ryan and I could not believe what we were hearing. I immediately burst into tears. I was devastated. If given time, I think Ryan would have burst into tears as well. All of this positive energy we had poured into the previous days, all the encouraging words, all the emails congratulating me on my last treatment, were gone. I kept thinking that surely he was just joking. Ryan and I tried to convince him of letting me take my treatment on Friday or even Monday, but he wasn't having it. How could my counts be so low and I feel so great?

After regaining my composure, which wasn't easy, Dr. Ellis showed me the lab work. There are about 20 different counts they check, but the one that really matters is the Absolute Neutrophil Count. A normal Neutrophil Count is usually between 1.8 and 3.6. Yesterday, mine was 0.2. Not Good. Our Neutrophils make up almost 75% of our white blood cells which is what fights off infection. Because mine are so low, I am at an extremely high risk for developing an infection and am very susceptible to germs. If I were to get sick, my body would have no way of fighting off the infection, which is extremely dangerous. Not exactly a comforting thought seeing that it is cold and flu season! Because chemotherapy lowers your white blood cells to begin with, there was no way I could get treatment yesterday. In the words of the nurse, "It could be fatal." Great. So, with all that being said, Ryan and I got in our car, slightly disappointed, and headed home. I am now quarantined in my house for the next 6 days. I won't be able to leave without a mask and that is not exactly the next best accessory. However, I guess it beats being hospitalized.

I do want to thank all of you who prayed for me yesterday and the days before. Please don't stop praying now. I would ask that you all pray that my counts return to an acceptable level by next week and that I would remain healthy until then. I want nothing more than to get my last treatment next Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A minor bump in the road

Hey guys...It's Hilary! I just wanted to fill you in on what has happed today while Mel & Ryan are in St. Louis for her "last" chemo treatment. Mel asked me to keep you informed so here it goes...

This morning Mel had her lab work done and then waited to see Dr. Ellis. Of course Mel & Ryan were ecstatic that today is her last 8 of 8 chemo treatments. After seeing Dr. Ellis he looked at her lab work results and said oh no. Mel's white blood cells are in a dangerously low range so she was not able to have her LAST chemo treatment today. Mel & Ryan are both devastated. She has rescheduled her "last" chemo treatment for next Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving). They are on their way home as I type this. Please pray for Mel...she is very sad that this whole chemo journey is taking another week. On the positive side she knows that if she were allowed to have chemo today it could be fatally dangerous because she could get a blood infection or something else more severe. She needs a little boost so please say a little prayer for her. After getting off the phone with her this scripture immediately came to my mind.

Psalms 27:14
Rely on the Lord! Be strong and confident! Rely on the Lord!

There is a reason that Mel was not supposed to have treatment today. God is protecting her and her body. He will make her stronger and He will give her peace that it was supposed to happen this way.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The End Is Near

Today Ryan and I leave for my final chemo treatment in St. Louis. The eighth treatment seemed so far away 16 weeks ago. And now, 7 treatments later, here it is. So, after Wednesday, this chapter will come to a close in my journey. I will move forward knowing I did everything I could to defeat cancer. I will never look back, other than to wonder how I ever made it through treatment after treatment. This trip to St. Louis will be different than those in the past. The people and places we have come to love will no longer be an ordinary part of our lives. I have been so blessed throughout the past 16 weeks. By the grace of God, Ryan, Charley, and myself have all remained healthy. After tomorrow, my life will return to normal. However, life won't be like it was before. Normal will take on a new meaning. When I was first diagnosed, Jeremiah 29:11 was the first verse I turned to. It still hangs on my refrigerator today. There have been numerous times where I have stood in front of that verse and read it over and over. Time and time again, I have come across this verse in different books or someone has shared it with me. Just yesterday I was talking with someone who asked if they could share a bible verse with me. Guess what it was? Then, this morning as I read a devotion from the book Praying Through Cancer, Jeremiah 29:11 was the scripture. Isn't God incredible? He continues to reassure and validate His promise to me through His word. Although I don't always understand why I was diagnosed with breast cancer at such a young age, why I had to lose both of my breast, or why I had to undergo 4 months of chemotherapy, I do understand that it was all a part of God's perfect plan for my life. I can't wait to see what He has for me in the future! Thank you God for holding my hand throughout this entire process, even when I tried to run away. Thank you for instilling a great amount of patience in Ryan and thank you Lord for blessing me with a healthy little girl who will hopefully never remember the days her mommy was so sick. Thank you for all the nurses and doctors who took such good care of me. Thank you for all those who brought meals three and four times. Thank you for my parents who were always there to encourage me and talk me through the hard times. Finally thank you for always reminding me that:

You know the plans you have for my life, plans to prosper me, not harm me, plans to give me hope a future! Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, November 14, 2008

Yea for Yoga!

So this week I started taking yoga. My mother-in-law actually bought me 10 yoga classes for my birthday back in September. Having chemo every two weeks didn't exactly allow for me to get started right away. This week has been a great week, so I decided to go ahead and give yoga a shot. Wow!! I had taken Pilate's classes in the past so I was expecting something kind of long the same lines. Wrongo. Yoga is nothing like Pilate's. As I began following the instructors lead, I was amazed by how stiff I was. Sitting down and touching my toes is a thing of the past. I could barely reach my shins. Having been on the couch for the past four month doing nothing physical other than taking my daughter to preschool or running an errand has really taken a toll on my body. I had no idea it was so bad until I started doing yoga. When I saw Dr. Ellis last week he mentioned that I needed to start walking and slowly reconditioning my body. At the time I thought, no big deal, I'll just start walking 3 - 5 miles every morning like I used to. That is not going to be as easy as it sounds unfortunately. However, I am looking forward to slowly regaining my strength and flexibility in the coming months.

In the dictionary, yoga is defined as: 1: a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation
2: a system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and well-being.

Each time I left yoga this week I felt so relaxed. I would highly recommend yoga for everyone. It is a great exercise to help reduce stress and help you relax! Go Yoga!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Blond or Brunette?

Hello Everyone!!! Well, I am officially on the countdown now. Only 8 more days until I have my final chemo treatment!! I can't believe it. When I first started chemo, my last treatment seemed so far away. Now, it only 8 days away. I know this treatment will be bittersweet. I will be so glad to be done, but in the same way, I will be sad. For the past 16 weeks I have traveled to St. Louis twice a month. I have established relationships with my doctors and nurses. I have met incredible people who are in the fight of their life. Most of them, I will never see again. I will move on from this journey while others are just beginning. At each of my treatments I have seen "first timers" being shown the ropes. To know the fear and anxiety they are facing breaks my heart. I have been there and hope to never again experience such feelings of helplessness and despair. Through my relationship with Jesus Christ I know I will be strengthened in the coming months. My prayer is to move forward knowing that I have been given a second chance at life.

On a lighter note....I purchased myself another wig yesterday. When I first lost my hair I refused to wear a wig. It was so weird. Now I have two of them and they are completely different. I'm not sure Ryan is completely sold on it. We have been married almost seven years and I have never had hair as long or as dark as my new wig. Ryan has gotten so used to seeing my bald head or my blond wig that I think I kind of threw him for a loop yesterday when I "surprised" him. Losing my hair was not fun. I loved my hair. However, why not take advantage of this time in my life and have whatever kind of hair I want! My new wig is fun and I am looking forward to wearing it out on the town. So, if you see Ryan with a hot brunette, it's just me, not another woman! God Bless!!

Me as a Blond

Me as a Brunette

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


14 weeks......I can't believe it has already been 14 weeks of CHEMO treatments. We are very excited to get home (we're currently in our room at Siteman Cancer Center getting treated) and see Charley, but equally excited that there is only ONE MORE TREATMENT! One last treatment. That sounds great.

Appointment with Dr. Ellis went very well this morning. Melody's bloodwork came back perfect, all normal. We will not be taking the Neulasta Shot tomorrow since we ended up in the emergency room a couple of weeks ago with Neulasta Fever. Darn it....I was getting kinda used to giving Mel a shot in the arm....kinda liked it too.

Another hour here and we'll head for the car and hit the road home. Thank you all for your prayers. Please continue to pray for healing for Melody, overall health for our family, and for our business as we look forward to getting back to a normal routine this season.

And certainly don't forget to pray for our nation, and our president.

Love you, God bless you,

Monday, November 3, 2008

Vote Your Conscience!

You will need to pause the music on the right-hand-side of the blog before playing the video. God Bless!