Sunday, February 21, 2016


"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15

Peace is exactly what I am feeling today! It's funny how feeling healthy can lead to a feeling of peace. It is great to be eating normally again, even if the food doesn't quite taste the same yet. It is great to feel my stamina increasing and seeing that my skin is back to normal and that my hair is growing. My finger nails still look and feel funny but thanks to my Valentine I am going with mom today to get a manicure and pedicure. That should help!

I find it interesting that I equate peace with feeling physically well. I am realizing that it is easier to feel happy when I feel well. The only other time in my life that I felt as much despair as I did while going through chemo therapy is when I was in the midst of dealing with years of infertility. I remember days of hopelessness and sadness as I tried to come to grips with God's plan for our future family. My desire to have a baby was so strong and I felt it was deeply tied to what I felt God's plan was for me, to be a mother. How blessed we were when, after 10 years of marriage, God revealed that we were to adopt our first baby. How blessed we are to have Ricky as our son! Then two years later, after 40 days of paying very close attention to my physical health and following God's plan for eating, we were able to conceive a baby, Paul. How blessed we are to have Paul as our son! So, the past 10 years have been full of much peace as I realized that this was God's plan for us, to have two sons. I still longed for more children but truly felt that God was telling me that this was his plan for us. God has given me many nephews and nieces whom I love as my own and that I can shower with love. They are also part of God's plan for me and the love that I am to share as part of the ONE BODY of Christ. And I am so THANKFUL for each one of them!

So, today I find myself feeling peaceful again. I am feeling more like my usual self before the cancer was diagnosed. I am full of hope in light of the upcoming surgery and radiation. I know I will have some tough days of healing ahead, but I am ready! The only way I can feel so peaceful and ready to heal is that I am surrounded by the BODY OF CHRIST- ALL OF YOU! Your positive messages and inspiration lift me up on days I am down. You fill me with the love of Christ because you are His hands and his heart! Everyone, from the friends I have at Publix who greet me with a smile and a hug, to my friends at work who support me and hold me up as I work through the illness and healing process, to my family who never leaves my side, and my church family and RCA family who continue to support us, and countless friends from the schools I have attended and from other walks of our life who check in on us and support us...... I could go on and on. Every message I receive and every act of love that is shown to us is another way that God is reaching out to me to remind me to just be held and to feel His peace and rest.

Any time I feel pain or despair I continue to offer it up for those of you who are suffering either physically or emotionally. There are so many of you suffering through your own challenges. Know that you are in my prayers. May you also experience the peace that surpasses all understanding which only comes from Christ Jesus. May we, the Body of Christ, extend the love of Christ to you so that you may tangibly feel His love and peace.

I was given the beautiful opportunity to attend a morning of reflection for mothers of students at St. Pius X Catholic High School  and/or mothers of alumni and alumni yesterday as I was invited by my dear friends Sonia and Debra. It was a beautiful morning of fellowship with moms and grandmothers and a time to pray and reflect. We were reminded that in our lives there are seasons. We were asked to look at the list of seasons as listed in Ecclesiastes 3:1-22. As the speaker read through the long list of seasons she came to the one in verse 3, "a time to kill, and a time to heal." She said, "You aren't allowed to choose that one." And in my true spirit I thought to myself, "why not?" And sure enough, I found that is the season I find myself in right now. I never thought before that I would be in a season of "killing" but that is what I just went through as I put my body through chemo therapy to kill off the cancer. Now, I can move on to a time of healing when I will, with the help of God, build my body back up and strive to stay healthy. In verse 11 it says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time." God wants us to find hope and beauty in every season of our life, even when it is a "bad" season. Every season has a purpose. Our work is to identify that purpose and to share the lessons with others since we are ONE BODY. Our lessons can support others and lead them to their own lessons and peace.

Once again, I thank God for each soul that has accompanied me on this journey. Thank you for sharing your lessons and your peace with me. Thank you for praying for Pete, Ricky and Paul as they endure this journey by my side. Please also pray for my parents, Evelio and Rosie and for Pete's parents, Tim and Valerie, as well as my siblings and their spouses(Elena and Steve, Gene and Lora, Mike and Christina), as they endure this journey with us. Because I share such intimate details with them I think they are bearing a big burden as well. Please pray for their strength and peace.

Much love to all of you! God bless you!
"To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:27

Sunday, February 14, 2016


"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

I have to be reminded of this often, the fact that the Lord has a plan and it is always a GOOD plan. In fact, it is ALWAYS the PERFECT plan, because it is HIS plan.

On our way to Gwinnett Medical Friday morning to have my port replaced, a song came on the radio, 104.7, the Fish, that truly comforted me and reminded me that all I need to do is rest and "BE HELD." The song is titled, Just Be Held, by Casting Crowns. Here is a link to the song:
I encourage you to listen to it. The line that comforted me greatly is "your life is not falling apart, it's falling into place. I am on the throne, stop holding on and just be held." I took some deep breaths and pictured the Lord holding me and carrying me through. I have to be reminded that this life is not for me to "figure out." My life belongs to God and He is the one with the plan. I need to trust Him and know that all things happen for a reason.

I KNOW that God has surrounded me with the people He is using to guide me, support me, and encourage me and my family. It is so beautiful to see how at each turn on this journey God provides friends and family who are available at the exact time we need them, even if just to pray where you are. We truly appreciate all of the prayers and many other forms of support you have all provided.

So, the port replacement procedure went very well. I am so grateful for the amazing medical team at Gwinnett Medical. On Wed. they found that I had a crack in my port line, when they conducted a port study with dye. That is considered a dangerous condition because the catheter line can break off and end up in my blood and they would have to get to it and extract it. So, they scheduled me for the next morning to have the port replaced. This time they routed the catheter through my jugular vein instead of going straight across like the last one. Apparently the line was rubbing up against my clavicle bone which is what has been causing the pain in my right shoulder that I have been feeling for the past month. This placement of going through the jugular has a higher success rate.

The procedure was outpatient, so I am home and doing well. Thank God for my "guys" and my parents who take such amazing care of me! Thank God for the army of people who are praying for us!

Speaking of plans, we do have a date for my breast surgery. I will be having the left breast removed on March 18th at East Side Medical in Snellville. At that time they will insert an expander as a "place holder" to keep my skin ready for the reconstruction that will occur after radiation. So, for those who like to know details, I will need 4 to 6 weeks to recover from this surgery. I will not be able to drive or do much of anything. I will have plenty of time to pray for all of you and am actually very grateful that the surgery is happening the Friday before Holy Week so that I can join my suffering with Christ on the Cross in a very tangible way!  Also, Pete and the boys will be on Spring Break for two weeks after my surgery so I will be well taken care of.

After recovering from surgery, I will begin 6 weeks of radiation which I will receive 5 times a week, Monday through Friday. Each appointment should only take 20-30 minutes except for Mondays when I meet with the physician, which will take an hour. Once radiation treatments are done, then I will go back for the reconstruction surgery in which Dr. Wang, my plastic surgeon, will take fat from my belly to construct the left breast. She will also take care to "mold" the right breast to match the left. They are being so careful to be sure that I feel comfortable about what will happen and with how I will look and feel afterward. I really appreciate that!

That is our "human" plan for now. In the end, I will work each day to trust God and HIS ultimate plan. I ask that you continue to pray for Pete as he juggles many "glass balls" in our lives right now. Pray for the boys as they continue to make sense of all that is happening. Thankfully the boys are very happy and have a great sense of humor. I just pray that their positive attitude continues.

I also ask that you add two friends to your prayers. Our friend Ryan was recently diagnosed with cancer. Please pray for him and his wife, Rachel as they search for the right medical plan for him. Also, please pray for baby Marisa and her parents Jamie and Michelle. Baby Marisa is in the NICU at two weeks old and is fighting for her life as she deals with lung and heart complications. We are praying for a miracle.
Thank you for your constant prayers!
Much love,

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The LAST Chemo Treatment

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

This verse encapsulates exactly what this past week has been about for me. I was already weary going into my 6th and final chemo therapy treatment on Thursday, January 28th. But the beautiful side of things is that since it was my last I also went into it with excitement and optimism. I had HOPE! I had God's presence in my soul so I was at peace. I had the best nursing care around me so I was confident that all would go well. I had the best parents anyone could ask for by my side knowing that they would never leave me as the side effects began to affect me. I had my dedicated and loving husband and my amazing sons by my side to care for me each and every day of dealing with side effects. I had friends ready to bring meals and to provide support through flowers, visits, meals, and prayers! God had set up my host of angels to represent him on my journey. I am one BLESSED child of God!

Because of everything I just described above I have chosen the word "Abundance" as my word of the year to focus on. I didn't choose it because I need more in my life, but because I have so much that I want to be sure I acknowledge it and remain thankful for it. I also want to have an open spirit to welcoming abundance in other areas of my life so that I may share it with others. Peter and I have big plans for how we would like to share our abundance with others to further the work of Christ.

For the benefit of those who are not on Facebook, here are a couple of pictures from my last chemo treatment day. A tradition in cancer treatment centers is that when you complete your last chemo treatment or a significant treatment, then you are invited to ring the bell and they give you a certificate. They also allow you to have your family with you to celebrate the moment. I know it meant a lot to my boys to be there with me. As always, dad brought me the Holy Eucharist during my treatment and mom did not leave my side. Pete and the boys joined me toward the end of the treatment as they had school that day.

Just two of my favorite nurses, Jane and Jessica. I have about 10 favorites!

Before my 6th treatment, I had been warned by the nurse practitioner that works with Dr. Peacock, Warn, that this would be the worst one. Now I think he was just trying to build it up so that I would be pleasantly surprised at how easy it would be.  I have not felt near the level of exhaustion that I have felt with previous treatments. It may be that I am just so ready to move on with life that my adrenaline is helping me compensate. The nausea has been the usual and something I have had to stay on top of. I have had difficulty eating for a few days with a rawness in my mouth that made almost any food cause me to gag. But I am passed that now. I didn't even have the usual battle with diarrhea that I had with the previous treatments. This time it was a more mild case. OR maybe I am just used to it. I am dealing with the tenderness and at times pain in my fingers but I can deal with it. I am blessed to have been able to rest this past week and be with my boys and Pete. I am blessed to have the energy to take Paul to his soccer tournament this weekend and enjoy watching him play. AND I am blessed to have the presence of mind and strength to look at the weeks ahead and be able to make plans to share essential oils with friends and family as I so enjoy doing and to go to work with my amazing colleagues at GCPS each day.

Here is an update on what comes next in my treatment plan. I met with the breast surgeon, Dr. Yamaguchi, and with the plastic surgeon, Dr. Wang, last week. We have a plan in place for how the surgery will take place but they are having to decide on the actual date. We are hoping the surgery and reconstruction will take place the second or third week in March. It will take place at Eastside Medical as that is where they prefer to conduct this surgery. It will be a 7 to 8 hours surgery, quite complicated. Both surgeons will be working me at the same time as one removes the left breast and the other removes fat from my belly to reconstruct the breast complete with attached blood vessels. It is simply amazing what can be done to help a woman feel as normal as possible after losing a breast.
It will take me 4 to 6 weeks to recover, with no driving, lifting, cleaning, etc. That will be probably be the toughest part for me and for Pete as I won't be able to do much but rest, pray and heal!
After the recovery I will begin radiation treatment. I am meeting with Dr. Maxa, a highly recommended radiologist at Gwinnett, on Tuesday, to learn more about that plan of treatment. So, I don't have those details yet.

God willing, I will be done with these major treatments by May. Then I will simply continue to receive Herceptin once every 3 weeks until October to complete the full year of treatment. Phew!
So, I am already planning one HECK of a party for my 47th birthday on October 23rd. It will double as a way to thank EVERYONE who has supported us through this journey.

Of course, as I write this I am having to add some more friends to my prayer list who have recently been diagnosed with cancer. I ask you to add my friends Mary and Ryan to your prayer list as they begin their journey to full healing from this awful disease. And I ask that we all continue to pray for wisdom and insight as to how to PREVENT this disease all together.

Here are some fun pictures from my day yesterday as my parents and I took Paul to his first soccer tournament and then as I ended the evening with dinner with 3 of my favorite dudes!

Paul's first GSA Soccer Academy soccer tournament. Abi and Abu went with us to Gainesville for a full day of cheering. We even got to cheer on the Vivanco twins, Elijah and Nathan!

An amazing evening of laughing and fun with 3 fine young men: Ricky, Paul and Luke.