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.

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