"Let's kick cancer's booty and take some names."
LORD, after this suffering, let it be said that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, make my Savior clear to all those around me. Because of my suffering and willing perseverance, cause others to be encouraged to speak the Word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
(Phillippians 1:12-14)

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God is walking with me. This I know.

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Gift & Some Good News


I am completely overwhelmed and amazed and honored and humbled by a gift I received today. (As a friend of mine says, "Do you always have to be overwhelmed? Can't you sometimes just be 'whelmed'?")
My sweet Aunt Evelyn made me a quilt. It's brown and dark pink and has hearts, flowers, paisley and tan colored breast cancer ribbons on it. It's absolutely gorgeous. But the back is what brought me to tears. She sent the backing of it (solid white) to my Momma. And it got passed around to my family and friends, and to some folks I'm only slightly acquainted with and they all signed it.
I honestly think that quilt has been to at least 3 states, maybe 4.
I will cherish it always.

The day got even better when I got a phone call from Dr. Cooper's nurse. The results of my gene test are in. I do NOT carry the gene that causes breast and ovarian cancer. That is such great news and a load off my mind.

To top the day off, I am meeting my best friends for supper: my sister Angie, my niece Megen, my sister Tammy (for those of you who know us, you know we ARE sisters), and my other niece Morgan (Tammy's daughter). My other BFFs are scattered over 2 states....wish they could be here too!

Surgery in the morning should be a breeze. I have to be at the hospital at 8:30 and surgery is supposed to begin at 10:30. I am praying for no infection this go around and for quick healing so I can move on to the next step.

Hugs to all! -

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Things Are Rolling Again

Just had my 3rd follow up visit after my lumpectomy.

Things are finally moving again and I couldn't be happier about that.

My next surgery is scheduled for Thursday, July 1st at 10:30am. I have more lab work (yep, I get to get stuck with another needle) this coming Friday, then I have to be at the hospital on the day of surgery at 8:30am. Same things as the other 2 times: no eating after midnight the night before, don't chew gum or mints, etc.

This coming up surgery (just to refresh your memory) is to take the tissue that surrounded the tumor to see if any of it is cancer. I don't know if they'll test it right there or if I will have to wait to get the results at my follow up visit (scheduled for Wednesday, July 5th at 11:45).

The best news I heard today was that I won't have to have any more mammograms or ultrasounds prior to this surgery! I could've kissed Dr. Cooper when he told me that.

GENE TEST: As Karen, Dr. Cooper's nurse stated sarcastically, "This is a very lady-like test." They have a kit that contains a plastic beaker with a cap, some paperwork and a travel sized bottle of Scope. She poured about a cap full of Scope into a small cup and told me to "swish" it around in my mouth for 30 seconds. She timed me. Question: how many of you tend to laugh when it's inappropriate? Like in church or at a funeral or when someone falls down? You just get tickled at the worst times. This is me, raising my hand. That was a LONG 30 seconds. I successfully 'swished' without laughing, then I had to spit it into the beaker. Her next words: "OK, let's do it again." WHAT? I barely got through the last 30 seconds without laughing. So I took another cap full and 'swished' it around for another 30 seconds, then had to spit it into the beaker. Discovery: Scope foams up A LOT when you swish it around for that long. Then she said, "OK, now I want you to run your tongue ALL AROUND your mouth, over your teeth, up over your gums and get as much spit in your mouth as you can and spit it into the beaker." Like she said........lady-like. So I did. Then she smiled at me and said I did good. :) Then, as my consolation prize, I got to take home the remaining Scope.

I still have to change the gauze several times a day on the incision, but Dr. Cooper said the it is looking exactly as it should and now we can proceed.

Please pray for no infection this go around and that it will heal quickly and won't give me any trouble on vacation (in 25 days!).

Special thanks to Greta Ward for making me some really awesome cards to send out. They are on kraft paper with a pink breast cancer ribbon embossed on them and on the inside it has the word "Hope" and "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."
Also to Lyn Walker and Carole Purkey for the GREAT make-over and make-up tips and for letting us invade your house (Lyn) last night. We had a great time!!

Hugs to all! -

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Another follow up visit

Hey everybody!
Let me say, again, how much I appreciate the prayers and cards and sweet messages I have received from you all. I am fully convinced that without God and you, I could not be getting through this journey as well as I am. Sometimes I think God just reaches out and pulls me through. Sometimes it's a very peaceful walk. And sometimes it hurts like yanking off a band-aid.

I had to explain to a few folks after my last post that the reason for this blog is for information. That includes ALL information. The good, the bad and the ugly. Some of you reading this may have to go through this one day or your wives or mothers or even some of you men may have to go through it. Therefore, I am not leaving anything out. It's gross at times. But I'm not sorry I'm sharing it. Plus.......it's my blog and I can put on here whatever I want. :)

Speaking of ripping off a band-aid........(WARNING: DO NOT READ THE NEXT FEW SENTENCES IF YOU ARE GROSSED OUT EASILY!) Dr. Cooper said the incision IS healing. It looks horrible. Even disgusting. It's still kinda green in some places and it bleeds and it's very tender. But it's healing. (Dr. Cooper's words: It might not look good to you, but it's doing just fine). For the next week I have to take cotton gauze and pat it to the bed of the incision and tape it down. The gauze needs to stick to the incision. Then at least 2 times a day (he said the more the better and the quicker it will heal) I have to take the gauze off. With that gauze comes dead tissue. And blood. And that's what he wants. He said this will actually help it heal. By the way, the part of the incision where it's infected is wide open. It's about 2 inches long and goes from top to bottom (not side to side) and it's raw. It's basically an open wound. Honestly, it doesn't hurt except around the edge where it's tender. Pulling off that blasted tape is the worst part.

I still can't schedule surgery yet. He wants to wait 1 more week to let the incision heal up some more. I go back next Wednesday.

At that time, I am also having a genetic test. There's something out there called a BRCA gene. If you have it, you are more likely to get breast and ovarian cancer. My gynecologist called me last week and said if I carry that gene, I am at greater risk for ovarian cancer and he will need to take my ovaries out. (It's called an oophorectomy). But we'll cross that bridge when.....well, you know.

GOOD NEWS: My cancer is the most common type (please don't ask me what it's called because I can't remember the exact name of it) and it's Stage 1A. He said anything below 1A is no cancer at all. That is VERY good news. It means it was caught very early.

Chemo: Yep. I still have to have it, even though the cancer was caught early. It's still cancer. And I still have it.

I'm taking this all in stride. It's a delay but it's not a major setback.

I'd like to thank Lyn Walker for the "Get Well Soon" tablets from Arbonne that she gave me last week. I'm feeling much better this week. Those antibiotics, along with the Get Well Soon seemed to shorten my sinus and ear infection quite a bit.

INSERT COMPLETELY RANDOM THOUGHT HERE: Is anybody else watching the World Cup? SPOILER ALERT: Uraguay just beat South Africa 3-0. Unless my World Cup knowledge is completely off base, looks like they'll be moving on to the next round.

That's about all I have for this week. Hope everyone has a great last part of June. More updates after next week's doctor visit. Good day everybody!




Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Follow Up Visit

I had my follow up visit with Dr. Cooper yesterday. It did not go as planned. I'm recalling my words when all this started: "It's going to be muddy and lumpy and stitched together."

1) My incision is infected. Dr. Cooper looked at it, then donned his latex gloves and told me to lay back on the table. That's never a good sign. (WARNING: If you have a weak stomach, skip ahead a few sentences!!) He dabbed at it with some gauze, then proceeded to root around in there with a wooden stick wrapped in gauze to clean up some of the fluid. Did it hurt? Not a bit. Was it gross? Absolutely. With the wooden stick, he pushed some gauze into the incision and by "into the incision" I mean he went about 1 inch in. Then he taped me up and said he was putting me on antibiotics for a few days. By a few days, he meant 10. The antibiotic he gave me was Levaquin. I sure hope they work soon. Those suckers were expensive! And if you've ever been on it and experienced any side effects, WOW.........I feel your pain.

2) More surgery. Yep. You read that right. More surgery. It seems the tumor was larger than he expected. He makes an educated guess at the size of the tumor when he looks at the mammograms, ultrasounds and MRI scans. But seeing the actual thing is what counts. Once he got in there, he saw it was larger than he thought. The best I can remember (it's all a bit of a blur today.....I have an ear infection and things are a little fuzzy right now), he said he took the entire tumor, but was unable to take a lot of the surrounding tissue. He said he took a chunk, but it wasn't enough. He couldn't take as much as he needed to because it would disfigure the breast. I guess once things shift around and resettle, you can go back in and take more. And that's exactly what he wants to do. He wants to be absolutely sure he got the majority of the cancer. The tissue he takes on the next round could be completely benign. But it could also be cancer. And if it is, it could/will change my chemo regimen.

3) Type and stage: I forgot to ask. I completely forgot to ask. And no, I'm not calling them back to ask them because at this point, it means nothing to me. All it will make me do is look it up on the internet and try to figure out what they will do next or scare the life out of me. And as Dr. Cooper told me on visit #2, looking on the internet for information is dangerous. He said you have to ask yourself 2 questions when looking for information on the internet:
1: Does it fit, and 2: Do you agree? Does it fit your exact situation? Probably not. And you have to decide if you agree with what you're reading. Good advice.

I trust Dr. Cooper with my life. Literally. I understand why he has to do more surgery. My head tells me it all makes sense. But my heart is not in it at this point. I don't want to have more surgery. Again, it's not my preference. But it's reality for me at this point. And hey, there are positives to this step backwards:
1. If I start chemo in the next couple of weeks, I could feel horrible on vacation (in 39 days....not that I have a countdown app on my phone or anything).
2. The later chemo starts the more it goes into fall and winter. And maybe chemo hats and headscarves are cuter in the fall and winter.
3. More pain pills! (Just kidding Momma!)

Does anybody out there watch Criminal Minds? (No, this is not random rambling on my part). Don't you just love Penelope? One of my favorite quotes of hers is, 'This job has taken away my ability to laugh.' I don't want to lose my ability to laugh through this cancer. I refuse to allow it to steal my joy. Satan does a good enough job of that. And speaking of that, when did we decide that he has a right to do that and 'that's just the way life is'? Listen up people....we ARE allowed to intimidate the kingdom of darkness and it's high time we make the enemy sorry he messed with us. God's word tells us we are to become armed and dangerous. And as my friend Beth Moore says (I'm not really her friend because we've never met, but if we had, I'd like to think we'd be friends), "Believing God's word is active and alive in me is where the rubber meets the road." (Do any of my Old Hickory friends think of Katherine Lane when they read that?)

God's timing is intentional. Yes, it is a setback. No, it's not my preference. But as my least favorite saying in the whole world goes: it is what it is. "Both faith and freedom will emerge from deliberate acts of the will to shift our focus from all that begs to differ to the great and glorious truth of the living God." Could anybody out there use a little faith and freedom? I could.

Believe God. Let nothing make you quit.



Monday, June 7, 2010

Bracelets





OK......I know I'm a crappy photographer. And I'm very late in getting this post up.
Anywho......my very sweet brother-in-law, Josh, and his wife Val, had these awareness bracelets made up for me. On one side they say "All Things New" and on the other is the scripture address Jeremiah 29:11 (I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future).

From the picture you MIGHT be able to see that they are caramel colored and the writing is dark pink.

If anyone would like a bracelet, please let me know and I will send you one. I feel like these aren't just for me, but for anyone who wants a reminder that God does, indeed, make all things new and He has a plan for each and every one of us.

So......shoot me an email (candy819@me.com) or post a reply to this post with your address and I'll get one in the mail to you.

Tomorrow is my follow up visit with Dr. Cooper. I should be getting a pathology report on this visit, to see exactly what stage the cancer is in and type of cancer. That will determine my therapy from this point forward.

I cannot thank you all enough for the prayers, cards, facebook messages and good thoughts as we walk this road. I have been greatly encouraged.

More tomorrow after my visit! Have a great rest of the day!