About Our Family

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Tuscaloosa,, Alabama, United States
"For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:14-17

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chemo 7 and 20 Kid Questions - Age 2 yrs 6 mos

I'm sitting here getting my NEXT TO LAST chemo treatment.  I'm tired of talking about cancer.  Frankly, I'm pretty tired of cancer...but the doctor said he's really pleased with the chemo results.  He said any micro tumors left (if there are any) will be removed during the surgery.  He will do a ct or pet scan, more than likely, before surgery.  It's hard to explain, but there isn't really a way to test to see if the cancer is still there.  They run my tumor markers, but my base line tumor markers were about normal when they first ran them before treatments.  The only real way to see if there is any cancer is the ct or pet scan.  My reaction to chemo (reduction-really elimination- of any hardened tissue in my breast since that is the site of cancer) is the only way to know I'm beating this type of breast cancer.  I did ask some questions about how we would know if the cancer is gone and I got the impression that it's kind of the wait and see for the 6 months after my radiation.  I think he mentioned possibly doing another ct or pet scan 6 months after radiation.  He had said that I wouldn't be cleared for reconstruction for at least 6 months after radiation to make sure no further action was needed early on in this whole process, so that's not a big surprise.  I knew this cancer was hard to diagnose, but I really had no idea that it was this hard to track too.  Again I say how very blessed I am (and grateful) that I was diagnosed at stage 3.  My red cell counts are much better at 31 now!  We discussed my side effects, he's going to up the number or pain pills he's calling in for me.  As long as I take those, I'm pretty good to go after the initial days of achiness.  I think the Nuelasta shot achiness added to the achiness caused by the chemo is what knocks me out for those few days.  My nail beds are looking pretty bad, which surprised the doc.  He said I'm just reacting really sensitively to this type of chemo, but each person reacts to each medication very individually.  It's crazy how your body freaks out when you pump a bag of toxins into it...LOL!  I haven't experienced any lasting nueropathy, which is a blessing and answer to prayer!  There is a small chance of permanent nuerapathy effects with Taxotere, but so far, so good.
Now onto the fun stuff!!!!  I stole this from another blog that I follow, but I've been thinking lately about how I don't want to forget all these things about Ashlyn and this is such a great way to record them!  She can make me laugh like no other person on the planet!  She can melt my heart in a single, split second.  She can make me mad almost faster than David!  I love her for the amazing person she already is, but I'm looking forward to watching her grow and learn and become even more amazing!

1. Favorite Color: Pink
2. Favorite Toy(s): Bicycles
3. Favorite Fruit: Grapes
4. Favorite TV Show: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
5. Favorite thing to eat for Lunch or Dinner: Chicken and Green Beans (She absolutely must have her ranch to dip though!)
6. Favorite Outfit: Her black and orange Halloween outfit with a kitty cat face on the top
7. Favorite Game: Bubble burst
8. Favorite Snack: Fruities!
9. Favorite Animal: To play with are cats - the talk about are horses - she's a big fan of elephants too
10. Favorite Song: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", "Jesus loves me", and "Jingle Bells" (Yes we are still singing that one well into February!
11. Favorite Book: George Shrinks
12. Best Friend: She talks about her preschool buddy Kurt the most...but she loves being with her cousin Ella 
13. Favorite Breakfast food: Sausage biscuits and eggs
14. Favorite Thing to do outside: Ride her bike and helping daddy with whatever he's doing
15. Favorite Drink: Milk
16. Favorite Holiday: Christmas
17. Favorite thing to sleep with: Her Lovies, dog 'pillow', hippo pillow pet, Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Aflac Duckie, princess heart pillow and the occasional random item that she just WILL NOT get into her bed without.
18. Favorite Dessert: Chocolate candy
19. Favorite person you think she would like to meet: Well...considering she is afraid of any dressed up characters so far - A.K.A the "Build a Bear" Bear and the "Chick-fil-a" Moo Moo, Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and the random person dressed as a kangaroo at the BJCC Hunting Expo...I don't think she would want to meet any of her favorite cartoon characters.  Maybe I would have liked her to meet my daddy's mom (Mamaw).  We have a blanket she made and Ashlyn always talks about how Mamaw made it. :)
20. What she wants to be when she grows up:  A princess
I also have some random things she says:
*  When she sees any elephant anywhere, she says "Roll Tide"!
*  When she wants to watch "Tangled" on tv she says she wants to watch "Princess", when she wants to watch "Open Season" she says she wants to watch "Bear".
*  She asks me at least every other day "Is Moo Moo far away?" - Yes, our Chick-fil-a Moo Moo experience was that traumatic...
*  She is starting to say her bedtime prayer with us sometimes, but she is always quiet during the prayer.
*  She is in the "NO!  I do it" stage right now.  If she says she will do it and you do it for her, she will undo whatever you did and do it herself 90% of the time.  Frustrating, but I know it's a good thing for her to be learning independence. :)
*  Let's face it...we talked about boobies alot in our house for a couple months in a row...Ashlyn picked up on it, but she calls them "booties" and I don't correct her.  I figure at least maybe one stranger will think she's talking about shoes?!?!

Friday, February 22, 2013

My feeble attempt at IBC education...

I found a news story about a woman recently diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (commonly referred to as "IBC") and thought that the doctor did a really good job explaining what makes this cancer a little different than most breast cancers.  It's a really short video, but if you don't want to watch it...let me paraphrase what I feel was the most important statement made in the whole video.  You know your body.  You know if something is different.  Don't let a doctor or your fears convince you to stop seeking a diagnosis or treatment!

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among women. An estimated 232,340 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 39,620 will die from the disease in 2013, according to the National Cancer Institute.
A Medscape article reported that, "Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) accounts for 1%-5% of all breast cancer cases but 10% of breast cancer deaths.  Historically, 5-year survival in IBC has been less that 5% when treated with surgery or radiation therapy, increasing to 30%-40% with Multimodal therapy that includes preoperative chemotherapy adequate to induce pathologic complete response (CR) before surgery."  Simply speaking, research found that including chemotherapy with the surgery and radiation drastically increased survival rates.  According to my oncologist, he has calculated my 5-year survival rate at 93% and my cure rate at 56%.  Essentially, he thinks I'm going to be around at least 5 more years and the chances are greater than not that at the end of my treatments he will be able to confirm that I am cancer-free!  I do admit that his confidence means a great deal to me, but my confidence in the Great Physician is much greater.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

My baby...ready for her Valentine's Party at school!  We asked her this morning who her Valentine was and she said it was her Daddy!  She melts my heart daily!
Ashlyn and her Valentine!
 Me and my Valentines!
Yesterday I had my 6th dose of chemo.  Only two more doses left!  Please continue to pray that every single cancer cell is dying as I do these treatments!  I had a "turnaround day" this time around, so I am feeling much better than with the last dose of chemo.  Unfortunately, my red cell counts dropped too low so today I'm calling myself the Valentine's Day Vampire as I sit her getting a blood transfusion. LOL!  Thankfully not much more to update since I've been feeling so good!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

This Path

I heard this song yesterday.  I immediately melted into tears because I felt like I was hearing my own words put to music.  This describes so beautifully the way I feel about the challenge that I'm facing right now....

A million miles away from anything familiar
A thousand places I would rather be
So I choke back the tears and try to find the bright side
Though I find it hard to see beyond my suffering
In my heart I know your plan is so much bigger
But this small part is all that I can see
And I believe you haven't left me here to wander
Still I can't help but ponder where you're leading me
And I ask why this road
Why this way
And this load
Tell me how far must I go
Till I see
Till I know
Why this road
A million miles away from anything familiar
What was it like to be so far from home
Though you came in love
The world misunderstood you
There must have been some days when you felt so alone
But you endured, cause there was joy before you
Joy that came because you sacrificed
Since you gave yourself just to spend forever with me
Surely I can trust you'll lead me through my darkest times
When I ask why....(Chorus)
From here I can not see
Why you'd choose this path for me
But I don't have to understand to believe
That you know why
You know why this road
Why this way
And this load
You know how far I must go
Till I see
Till I know
Why this road

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Oh Glorious Day!

     After over three weeks of laying in the bed, wondering (while crying my eyes out if we're being honest here) if I would ever feel like a normal person again... I FEEL GREAT!  Now don't get me wrong - my "feeling great" would probably be someone else's "I just got over the flu yesterday"!  Yesterday my tongue was healed enough to eat solid food!!!!  I just have to laugh at the absurdity of how happy being able to make that statement makes me!  Ashlyn spent the night last night at her GrandMary's house.  I'm outside of my Nadir (the period of time when my cell counts are their lowest) and actually have had really good white cells counts before they have given me each new chemo treatment...so David and I decided to go to church for the first time since I was diagnosed.  It was so wonderful to worship in house of God again!  I was so glad to see so many friends!  I even wore makeup, which I haven't done in over a month! LOL!  I had a wonderful conversation with our pastor after service.  He never fails to impart such wisdom during his messages, but even during a simple conversation I walk away enlightened.  We are so very blessed to have such a wonderful church home!  So many people from our church have prayed for us, cooked for us, encouraged us with the sweetest words and reached out in so many ways.  We are truly grateful for each and every one of them!
     After church we went to lunch together - just the two of us!  I had one of the yummiest calzones EVER!  We went over to GrandMary's house to pick Ashlyn up (in the pouring rain!)  To celebrate my feeling better after dinner we decided to make SMORES!!!!  Ashlyn thought she was big enough to toast her own marshmallows....don't worry she only held it by herself long enough for the picture and we didn't burn our house down.  You've got to love her crazy hair!  She played so hard when we got home!
     Tomorrow I get to go to work and attempt to try to catch up.  Please note that I used the word "get".  I work with some seriously amazing ladies and going to work now is a joy I never truly appreciated before.  To be honest, going down the street to the dollar store is a luxury I never truly appreciated.  Wishing everyone a happy and productive week!  An "ordinary day" is a GIFT that shouldn't be taken for granted!!!!  I'm going to try to make the most of every second!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Tea Party!

Mimi came the day before my chemo treatment and stayed the night to watch Ashlyn the next day. Good thing too since there were tornado watches and warnings until 10:00am and we were supposed to be at the office at 9:15. We felt we were in the clear and safe to travel at about 9:15, so we were only an hour late for the doctor's appointment. We'd have been a lot later if Mimi hadn't been there because most of the businesses, including Ashlyn's school, had delayed opening until 10am. Mimi stayed almost an entire week! Mimi prepared Ashlyn's very first Tea Party complete with finger sandwiches, cookies, real tea and HATS!  Mimi had told Ashlyn that if she did what she was told, they would have a tea party the next day.  Ashlyn talked about the tea party for the rest of that day and then woke me up the next morning saying, "I'm going to have Tea Party!!!!".  She was so excited!  I can tell you that the Tea Party was a complete success!  We even started teaching Ashlyn how to stick her little pinky finger out!  She was a big hoot and it was nice to have a little fun and I can't tell you how much that little giggle warms my heart!

 I had my first chemotherapy treatment with Taxotere on January 30th. Today is the first day I've been able to get out of bed and get on the computer. Taxotere left it's mark...literally! I have a rash that looks like a burn (thankfully it doesn't feel like a burn!) that extends across half of the top of one hand and I have spots of the rash on the other hand. With just the first treatment I spent three days aching so badly that it took two Lortab 7.5's at a time every 6 hours to ease the pain. When I got this dose of chemo, I don't think I'd really recovered from the last dose of the other kind of medicine, so I've spent the last 15 days with my throat and tongue hurting so badly that I've been living off protein shakes, ice cream, applesauce, pudding and soup. One of the major side effects of Taxotere is known to be Neuropathy. That is nerve damage in your hands and feet. I had the tiniest taste of that, but thankfully it was held at bay. I'm using this blog to keep people updated about my progress, but I've had this blog for over two years. This blog is a sort of journal for me. A reminder of things we've done and how we've grown as a family and how I'm growing as an individual...so I'm honest. I don't often write about the really bad things because quite frankly....I don't want to remember them. I want to look back and remember when things were good. Even in the bad, you can find the good. What I see at the end of this journey for me though is to look back at the horrific experience that has been fighting breast cancer and know that I wasn't imagining that I was being tough....that I really am tough. I only cried for two days this go around. Hey! That's good progress for me!  One of those crying days I felt led to call a fellow cancer survivor who had reached out to me earlier.  She is a member of our church and I just couldn't shake the feeling that she was the one I needed to call and break down to.  She mentioned a song that I have listened to every day since... (sorry...you may have to watch a commercial first) 

This song struck me to the very fiber of all that I had been feeling.  It's so hard when you feel this bad to not feel abandoned.  Not to question God's faithfulness.  Part of the song is based on two bible verses:
1.) Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
2.) Genesis 50:20 "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." 
As I listened more, I was reminded that God IS Sovereign over me.  "Sovereign" is defined as "A supreme ruler; Possessing supreme or ultimate power; Lord; King"  He is my King and I am here to do as sees fit.  He has a purpose for my pain.  He is refining me.  He is molding my faith, my values and my priorities. Knowing those two things - that he promises good for me and that He has the supreme power to see it through gives me solace in this struggle.