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

Friday, April 19, 2013


Wednesday I went to St. Vincent's for my pre-admission testing and a pre-surgical consult with my surgeon.  Everything went really well.  I feel much more comfortable knowing exactly what my surgeon has planned and hearing his instructions for post-op recovery, etc.  We decided that it would be best to go ahead and remove my port during surgery.  I am having a bi-lateral mastectomy.  I can't say enough good things about my surgeon.  His name is Dr. William Tapscott and he saved my life.  I've been very critical of medical professionals because of past experiences.  Going through this challenge has introduced me to so many wonderful, kind, caring medical professionals that my heart has softened and I don't necessarily immediate distrust every doctor I see any more.  When I first saw Dr. Tapscott, he took my condition very seriously, sought opinions from other doctors and researched all the possibilities of what could be causing my trouble.  He was patient, caring and compassionate.  His bedside manner is impeccable!  He and my Oncologist, Dr. Cantrell, are probably two of my favorite people in the whole entire world!  Dr. Cantrell has answered every question I've ever had and addressed every concern with the utmost respect and patience.  I have so much faith in his expertise and I am so happy that Dr. Tapscott referred me to him!  He gets a little credit for saving my life too! ;o)  Every nurse I've had has been an angel!  I swear to you, I call the Cancer Center at least twice a week with a question and they always call me back quickly and never make me feel like a burden.  They are encouraging and supportive, not to mention, they are great at their job!  The staff at both offices bend over backwards to help you in any way they can!  They are always smiling and sweet!  I know I probably sound like a commercial, but anyone who knew me before I got sick knows I don't just throw around compliments about medical professionals!  I thank God that He provided these people to care for me!!!
My muscles (especially my legs) are still sore, but I feel better every day!  I'm still retaining a little fluid, but not nearly as bad as before!  Hot flashes still suck!!!  Other than that and, of course, still being a little more tired than I used to be, I'm pretty much recovered from chemo.  We've noticed a little more fuzz on my head, so my hair IS growing back!  My fingernails will eventually grow out.  Eyebrows and eyelashes take a little more time to grow back, but they will eventually.  I lost 20 lbs on the first 4 treatments, but during the last 4 I gained back 30 thanks to Steroids, inactivity and ice cream (along with a few more choice yummy foods that aren't that great for the waistline).  I told my step-sister, I feel like an The Ugly Duckling right now.  I know that when this is over the weight will come off, my hair will grow back, heck....my reconstruction surgery includes a tummy tuck.  Maybe I'll become a swan, but right now none of that has happened yet and when I look at myself in the mirror I just don't look like me.  A friend and breast cancer survivor posted on my facebook that I had "come to the place where things begin to feel like a walk uphill".  Boy did she hit that nail on the head!  I look back and I'm proud of myself for making it through chemo, but I know I'm not done...I'm not especially anxious about the surgery.  I'm not really especially anxious about living without boobs for almost a year anymore.  I thought living without hair would be the end of the world, but you get used to it.  I'll be glad when I don't have to be used to it anymore, but for the time being, it's really not the end of the world.  I think getting used to my different body will be similar.  I will mourn, but then joy will come in the morning.  I think God is teaching me a lot of lessons about patience and beauty right now.  I'm specifically praying for my surgeon, that he will successfully get all the cancer cells out of my body!  I'm praying for no complications and an easy recovery.  I'm also praying against any cause of Lymphedema (a swelling in the arm on the affected side caused by damage to or removal of the lymph nodes) which would be a condition that would be more and less severe at times, but would never go away.  I know God is as much in control of this situation as He has been every other situation along the way.  He sees the big picture (actually He created the big picture!) and He has good things planned for me and my family!   

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mission Chemo Accomplished!

Well...I'm officially done with Chemo treatments!  I just have to thank God for getting me through it!  Chemotherapy is no joke.  They have come so far with medications to help you combat the side effects of taking the treatments and I, quite frankly, can't imagine how horrible it was before because it's still sucks REALLY bad!  The worse of the side effects are gone and I am very excited to know they are gone for good!  But, I have no hair, I've officially lost 5 fingernails (I'm sure 3 others will follow soon enough, but I think my thumb nails will stick around, they look ok).   I can't walk more than 100 yards without having to sit down and rest or stand in one position for more than a couple minutes.  I feel like an 80 year old lady and I look a little like an albino with no eyebrows or eyelashes and my very pale skin!  I still swell some by the end of the day, so my joints hurt and my face looks puffy.  To top it all off, I know that I still have to make it through surgery and recovery and then do 7 weeks of radiation (driving to Birmingham every day Monday through Friday).  You know what though....what doesn't kill you really does make you stronger!!!!  Physically I've changed a little.  I do look different for now, but my hair and nails will grow back.  I will get my muscle strength back and the swelling with stop eventually.  More importantly though, I feel like my spirit has changed.  I've learned about myself...about God and His love for me...and about what true friendship looks like.  I've been forced to slow down and reevaluate my priorities.  I've realized that the sense of control I thought I had over my life was really an illusion.  I've learned to surrender my fears to the Lord and trust in His will.  I have to admit that learning that lesson isn't ever easy, but it's a lot easier when you have no choice.   The phrase, "When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade" comes to mind...but it doesn't really work that way.  We think that's the lemon is only ingredient we'll need, but then we realize that there's more to it than that...we need some sugar too.  Instead it's more like when life hands you a lemon, give it to God and he'll send you back some lemonade.  He will step in and fill in the holes in our life.  He'll provide what we need, even when we didn't know we needed it.   I know that I'm not perfect and there will be times when I try to control my life, but I have a much deeper understanding that God has a path prepared for me and I won't always understand why He leads me certain ways, but I will always know that it's because He loves me and is working for my good.  I wish I could say that I was a rock throughout my treatments....but I can't.  Some days, I really and truly thought that I would feel that way for the rest of my life.  I cried buckets of tears and begged God to help me feel better.  He always helped me feel better, but it wasn't usually that very second (which I would have preferred, LOL!).  He never failed to provide encouragement, whether it was through someone visiting or a phone call, an email, a card, something my husband said to me, or even a commercial on television.  I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again and again...Thank you to each and every person who takes time out of their day to say a prayer for me and my family.  Prayer is not, "the only thing I can do", it's THE most powerful thing that you can do!!!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Barnyard Baby

Mimi drove Ashlyn to school and me to work the other day because I had a hard time getting up and getting going so David had gone on to work.  We got Ashlyn to school just in time for her class's turn to visit the barnyard animals!

She absolutely loved brushing that little pony's hair!  It was so precious to watch all the kids petting the baby and miniature animals!

Second Haircut

Ashlyn has been saying that "Aunt Reesie going to cut my hair"...for several weeks now.  Anytime we get her around the scissors, she would chicken out though.  Well, we found the answer!  Someone will sit still (relatively still anyway...at least she's in the chair) if she's distracted by ice cream! LOL!  She showed off her "new princess hair" for days!  Teresa cut David's hair and my wig while she was at it!  She just shortened my wig a little since we're getting toward summer time and wigs are hot.  I managed to fray some of the back of the wig too, so it's looking and feeling much better now!  It felt a little weird (ok...a lot weird) sitting in a beauty parlor chair getting my wig hair cut...just in case you ever wondered.

Easter Festivities Part 2

First Wesleyan Church hosted Easterfest again this year.  20,000 Easter eggs to hunt!!!  Games and Inflatables...all free for the community to enjoy!

You've got to love the face Ashlyn is giving!  She was a little overwhelmed by so many people at the park.
We saw Ashlyn's preschool teacher and Ashlyn didn't hesitate to go run right over to "her Amber"!

Ashlyn saw one of her church friends she hasn't seen in a while and her little friend ran over to hug her!  They are so stinkin' cute!

First time ever getting her face painted.  Don't know if you can tell, but that's a green princess crown.
Very appropriate for our little princess I think!

The Easter Bunny came to visit.  He sure was messy!!!  He left his footprints everywhere!
Can I just say that I have the most amazing husband and Ashlyn and I are so blessed to have him in our lives!  I felt so badly on Saturday after walking around at Easterfest that I had to go straight to bed when I got home.  I was so swollen all over my body from one of the most fun Taxotere side effect (fluid retention).  David cleaned up the house and then set all of the Easter stuff up completely by himself and I couldn't have done nearly as good of a job as he did!!!!  I started crying when I saw the footprints on Easter morning!  He is such a good daddy!!!!!!!

Easter Festivities Part 1

Ashlyn's school's Easter egg hunt and Easter party!  So fun!!!

Decorating Easter eggs for the first time ever with Mimi!