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Day 28 – May 2, 2017

IT’S CHEMO WEEK!  Chemo week brings all kinds of changes and maybe even a range of emotions.  I finished my second round of chemo on Tuesday.  Two down – fourteen to go! As always, keep praying that this ugly tumor is SHRINKING!

My friend Amy P was my mama sitter yesterday, and did she have a full day!!!  She picked me up at 7:30am, and off to chemo we went.  My first appointment for labs was at 9 o’clock.  Then I met with the PA at 9:30am.  That was a good appointment, and I found out that my counts were back up.  YAY! While I was meeting with the PA, Amy P was off to Sonic to get my ice chips to eat during the “Red Devil.”  I’m praying that all of the precautionary steps we are taking will help prevent mouth sores.

Around 10 o’clock, we headed to the infusion lab.  They started with all of the premeds, and then the chemo started.  I was actually done around 12:30pm this time.

95A7BDDD-4AB0-410F-898F-8FE4369D76B1
Me with Amy P – Round 2  is complete!

The day had finally come to shave my head.  I had decided I was going to be proactive.  When my hair started coming out, I was going to shave it.  Saturday, I could tell it was starting.  Then Sunday and Monday, more and more hair was coming out.  I definitely knew it was time.

I am sure losing your hair and shaving your head can be quite emotional for some people.  For me, it was not that emotional.  I knew it was something that had to be done.  The meds that are causing this are the same meds being used to get me one step closer to saying this ugly tumor is gone!  I know this mindset is not from me, but is the mindset of peace that God is providing me through this journey.

amy p and me after shave
After Shave Selfie!

When my hair comes back, I along with quite a few of my friends are excited to see how it comes back.  As a child, I always wanted curly hair.   Now, I really don’t care – curly or straight – but I wonder if this time next year I may be wondering what to do with curls!!  The big question is, though…what color will it be? 🙂

The wig I had decided on was backordered through June.  Instead, they ordered a different wig in my color, and they ended up cutting and styling it to match my normal hair.  They even laid a swatch of my hair on the wig, and we were amazed to see that it matched perfectly!

New Wig
New wig

Heading into the summer, there may be days when I’m not “feeling it” with the wig, or I need to make a quick run to the grocery store.  I was excited about finding some other options.  I can tell I am going to love this scarf.  I think it is so cute!  What do you think?

E has been handling this very well. She has been anxiously waiting for Mama to get the wig. I think she thinks this wig will be hers to play with, once this is all over!  She does know not to even touch the wig for now, but one day…

E & Me

I had a good Tuesday evening.  I took my meds and got some rest.  I am thankful that even though this was a chemo day, we made it through the day with a whole lot of laughter and no tears over chemo or the shave!

Thank you for walking this journey with us,
Amanda

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13 

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Day 23 – April 27, 2017

UPDATED PRAYER REQUESTS

  • That this ugly cancer is SHRINKING
  • My counts come up – they were low at my appointment Monday and were low at the hospital Tuesday
  • That I stay well so my chemo stays on schedule

I received the BEST phone call yesterday!  I had my genetic testing done on April 6th.  They told me it would probably be four weeks before we would get the results.  Well, 3 weeks to the date I received the call and both BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 were NEGATIVE along with the other 28 gene mutations they tested for!!!  This is HUGE!

After it set in yesterday, I shed a few tears of joy and thanked God for this! This means that my chances of recurrence is no different than any other person with my type of cancer. This means I do not have to worry if I have passed the gene down to E. Had any of these been positive, my risk would have increased. I do have to follow up with them every 1-2 years in case there is a new test that I might need to do.

I have been given permission to share this.  Later in the day, I was saddened to hear someone else I know was diagnosed with this ugly disease.  She just found out yesterday.  Please add Julie to your prayer list. Pray for a good doctor visit and the peace that only God can give during a time like this. Like me, she agrees the more prayer the better! I told her I would ask my friends to add her to their prayer list too.   We were able to chat briefly yesterday when she told me and then text last night.  It shows how God can use my cancer,  3 weeks and 2 days into this journey to reach out to others. Just like 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

The weekend before my next round of chemo is here.  I am trying to psyche myself up for next Tuesday. The first round, I went into it not knowing how I would feel and what side effects would hit me. This time I have a little more knowledge about it. I just keep thinking, after this treatment I am half way done with the specific chemo that is causing the side effects.  The last treatment and the next three consist of two chemo drugs. It is called AC and made up of Doxorubicin and Cyclophosphamide.  One is known as “the red devil” and I think I can understand why it is called that…it is red, but it is the one that causes some of the side effects I had last week.

I am not done with chemo after these four treatments, but the doctors and nurses have told me that the Taxol will be easier than this now.  I will actually get that treatment weekly for twelve weeks.

We continue to be amazed at the love and support shown to us during this time.  The calls, texts, messages, and most importantly the prayers!  I know that I have to take this one day at a time but to know an army of people is covering us in prayers daily makes a difference!

Thank you or walking this journey with us,
Amanda

Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or more come together in my name, there I am with them.  Matthew 18:19-20

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Day 22 – April 26, 2017

Thank you for your prayers!  I did not have any chest pain or back pain on Wednesday!!

UPDATED PRAYER REQUESTS

  • That this ugly cancer is SHRINKING
  • My counts come up – they were low at my appointment Monday and were low at the hospital Tuesday
  • That any infections go away – I  am on an antibiotic right now
  • That I stay well so my chemo stays on schedule

Steroids and storms!  A combination of the two can cause you not to get much sleep. Monday, when I went to my appointment and got fluids, they also gave me steroids.  I guess it hit me Tuesday, and I was up until 2:00am!  I then woke up to the storm that came through.  Keith later told me that the storm was actually around 6:00am, but I guess if you had only been asleep about four hours, it did seem like the middle of the night still. As of this morning (Thursday) it seemed those steroids were still messing with my sleep…I woke up before 5:00am but was so tired…I laid in bed just trying to go back to sleep, I think I drifted off a little.

Even though I didn’t get a ton of sleep Tuesday night, I still had a great day on Wednesday!   I was able to work some and then went to church. I did get really fatigued around 2:00pm.  I am not sure if that was chemo related or the fact I did not get a lot of sleep the night before.  I was actually going to skip church.   Because my counts are low, I thought it probably was best to stay away from big groups of people.  Keith had a meeting that was going to go after E’s class ended, so I went to be there when she got out of her class.  My class was not meeting, so Amy L. and I sat and chatted. It was good seeing people tonight, but I said no to hugs, just trying to keep any germs at bay and stay well.

I may have mentioned before that I would be sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of my journey and keep it real.  Because I  had a quiet and uneventful day yesterday, PRAISE THE LORD!!!,  I thought I would share a little about my medical oncologist today.

I wish I had taken a picture with her on Monday. I will try to remember to get a picture with her next time I see her.  Dr. J is great!  She is the sweetest lady.  She has been both very positive and very encouraging. I probably have said before, and if you know me you know, I can worry too much.  She has really helped me calm down and take deep breaths.

I initially met her on the second day of my diagnosis. I do believe God already had my medical team lined up.  I mean, really, I have a team of doctors that are just what my personality needs, they have the same bedside manner as Dr. A.  I was in the surgical oncologist’s office (Dr. G) within 2.5 hours of my diagnosis and in the medical oncologist’s office (Dr. J) within about 24 hours of my diagnosis. I was having my scans two days after my diagnosis.  Thankfully, we live where we do and are not too far from some of the best hospitals and doctors.

Meeting Dr. J was just like the day before when I met with Dr. G.  We started talking and it was not like we were just meeting for the first time. Obviously, we had a lot to talk about, and I was a MESS!  She was very calming.  She is super easy to talk to and ask questions to.  She told me she is going to be honest with me, and she does not hide anything. I like that because I am a super detailed person.  I want to know the details.  I am a CPA; I analyze things too much probably.  That is part of my personality, part of my job, a part of me.  That being said, you can tell I probably ask lots and lots and lots of questions.  I am thankful that the doctor I was sent to seems not to mind and graciously answers all of my questions.

This past week I saw her at my appointment.  As I mentioned in a recent post, I have been scared to eat because I thought I would eat the wrong thing.  She and I talked about that on Monday too.  She also went through some of the good things to eat.  Now, I am probably going to be texting my nutritionist friend or asking the doctor when I see her about certain foods I may not be sure of, but at least I am not so scared to eat now!  I am hoping with this round of chemo I will eat more – and maybe that will help with the fatigue and weakness I was still feeling a little over the weekend. All that to say, I really have had an appetite today, which is a good thing compared to last week. Someone asked me recently if there were things I would do differently after the first round of chemo.  The two things I think is try to drink more water when I am awake – although I did not really want to drink lots of water – and try to eat. I just think maybe those two things will help me not feel as weak maybe.

I still have so many questions though.  As I was talking with Amy L., while we were waiting for the kids to get out of class, I was telling her how I am now questioning things we use everyday.  I need to get my list ready for my next appointment.  My appointments can feel like information overload sometimes because there is so much to take in, so a list is very important.  I did not have my list with me Monday, so I ended up forgetting to ask some of the things I wanted to.

Thank you for walking this journey with us,
Amanda

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.  Exodus 14:14

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Day 21 – April 25, 2017

UPDATED PRAYER REQUESTS

  • No more chest pain
  • Back pain goes away
  • My counts come up – they were low at my appointment yesterday and were low at the hospital today
  • That this ugly cancer is SHRINKING
  • Any infections go away – I am on an antibiotic right now, just in case

Today started out GREAT!  I got up early, saw E off to school, went in my office, sat down, and started working.

When I was diagnosed, I asked both my surgical oncologist and my medical oncologist if I should quit working or continue working.  They both said to continue working but maybe cut back my hours.  I only work part time, but I talked to my boss and he said work when I can – which right now is the off chemo week, obviously.  We have a great team, and they are picking up different areas of my workload.  We are pushing through this. I am thankful for such a great place to work.

I was excited to get back to a little bit of normalcy today.  I talked on the phone with co-workers, I had a luncheon to go to up at the school…it was going to be a great day.

This morning when I woke up, though, my chest seemed to hurt some.  I tried to ignore it and just move on.  It continued throughout the morning.  I went to the luncheon at the school, came back home, and rested for a bit before I started working again.  I noticed that my lower back was hurting too.

I have a list of items you are supposed to call the doctor immediately for.  Of course, chest pains is one of them.  I finally called the nurse and left a message.  I then called Keith who called a friend to come over and check on me.  When she got here I was on the phone with a nurse, and she was telling me to go ahead and go to the ER.  We grabbed my notebook (I have a notebook I take with me to any doctor visits – with all chemo info, etc…), and off we went.  The closest hospital is not far from me. It’s not at the same hospital as the cancer center I go to, but they said just go to the closest.

I walked in, and they got me back immediately. They did an EKG, got an IV going, and got blood work started.  Then I was just waiting to go back for a Cat Scan. Keith headed straight to the hospital when he found out that I was going to the ER, so he was there waiting with me and Amy P.  They took me back for the CT, but my IV was not working right so they stuck my other arm. It didn’t work…it bruised.  I have not even taken the bandage off and looked yet…it bruised as soon as she stuck me and would not work.  Someone else came over and was able to fix the initial IV, and they used that.  I finally got back to my room, and Keith, Amy P, and I just chatted and waited.

The doctor came in and said things were looking good, and he was ok with me going home after he spoke to my oncologist.  I was so thankful that my heart was fine, that there were no blood clots, and that the lower back pain is most likely from a medicine from last week.

A  friend brought us dinner tonight.  Look at what she wrote on top of the containers. So sweet!

IMG_1641-1We had to run by another friend’s house to pick up E.  She had watched her while I was at the ER.  While we were at her house, I picked up the port pillows her mom had made for me.  These attach to the seat belt so that it does not rub against my port!  I have been using the pillow the hospital sent home with me but am excited about these because they are small, and I can attach to the seat belt and leave it there, probably.  I can also keep one in my purse so when I am riding with others.

You can see the front side in the picture on the left and then the back, the picture on the right, has a velcro strip that I will just put around the seat belt.  She actually made me quite a few, so I have some to share at chemo with others.

That pretty much sums up most of our day. I am hoping my Wednesday will be a little less eventful!

Thank you for walking this journey with us,
Amanda

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

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Day 20 – April 24, 2017 (Days 14-20)

I am so sorry I have not been able to update.  As some of you may have seen me post on my Facebook page, this chemo fatigue is no joke! Yesterday, they gave me fluids and it made such a huge difference!  Yay for fluids!!

Yesterday was the last Monday in April and it hit me, it was the first Monday in April all this began.  Monday, April 3rd was the day I went in for my routine mammogram that led to a sonogram that led to a biopsy.  LADIES:  IF YOU ARE DUE OR PAST DUE FOR YOUR MAMMOGRAM, CALL NOW AND GET AN APPOINTMENT.  IF YOU ARE READING THIS AND THE OFFICES ARE ALREADY CLOSED, MAKE A NOTE TO CALL FIRST THING TOMORROW.

This is going to be a really long post but I want to update as much as I can so just bear with me….and if you know me I can talk a lot anyway…so this could get really long.  🙂

Day 14 – April 18, 2017
Keith went with me to my first chemo treatment.  I really had no idea what to expect. We arrived for the appointment, and they sent me back to the infusion lab or is it room? Infusion Lab / Infusion Room…I will use them interchangeably and when I go in next week, I will look at the sign on the door to know what it is really called.  🙂  I will just go ahead and mention here, pregnancy brain and chemo brain are very similar.  I even asked the nurse that did my fluids about it….seriously, I am so forgetful right now.

When I got to the infusion lab, they told me which row to go to and find a chair.  Lucky for me there was a window seat available.  This was my view from my chair.

IMG_1621This is a new butterfly garden.  It was nice having a window seat and getting that as the view.

So, I may have mentioned in a previous post, but before I had my port put in, I thought that meant that I would never get stuck again throughout this whole process.  Hmmmm, I was wrong.  I was texting with Dr. A one day and realized that I was still going to get stuck.  (Sidenote here:  You will probably see me mention Dr. A quite a bit, just so you know who she is, she is not one of my oncologists, but she is my OB/GYN/EVERYTHING doctor.  I’ve mentioned her in other posts, and you can tell she is very special to our family.  She has gone through a LOT with me over the past 11 1/2 years and has held my hand and let me cry and talk and just be mad sometimes.  Just like she walked through Kate’s death with us, she told me the day she called with those results that she is going to walk through this cancer journey with us ) Anyway, she broke the news to me that I was still going to get stuck but I would use a lidocaine cream to numb the area so I do not feel the stick.  I was still a little unsure, but as I was sitting looking at that beautiful butterfly garden, guess what?!  You guessed it, I did not feel the stick of the needle accessing my port! Yay for lidocaine cream!  The nurse got the premeds started before the chemo meds, and I got a text from Dr. A asking me where I was because she was on her way to see me….seriously, can I ask for a better doctor/friend?  This is a HORRIBLE picture of me, but here is a picture of the two of us as I was getting my chemo.

IMG_1623You can see where the port is and that is how the chemo and other meds go in versus an IV in the arm.  I am getting two different chemos this round. The two of us chatted the whole time they were injecting the first chemo as I was eating ice.  The ice is to help prevent mouth sores.  Keith was there but if you know Keith, he was happy to be working away, most likely on his computer while we chatted.  This really did help the time fly by, especially as they were giving me the chemo that is known as the “red devil.”

I think it was after the first round of chemo it hit me really hard that I have cancer.  Don’t get me wrong, it has been hitting me really hard since that phone call at 9:53am on April 5th – but now I had started the chemo and the side effects were about to begin.

We were done with chemo and left the building probably around 1:15ish?  I was feeling motion sickness as I was telling Keith.  When we got home, I laid down and had no idea that was the beginning of my 4-5 day napping.

E had something going on at school that night ,so we had already planned for a few friends to come over and “mama sit” me. Honestly, I do not remember if I was awake or asleep when they left my house.  Keith scheduled friends to be here with me the rest of the week while he was at work.  I’m glad I have friends that like to read, bring their laptops over, or play on their phones/iPads…because I was far being a Southern Hostess, that is for sure! I slept…and slept…and slept….

Days 15-17

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  I was pretty much either in bed or laying on the couch sleeping or maybe asking for a friend to make me a bowl of mashed potatoes.  Wednesday evening is when the chemo really hit me hard, and that lasted through Thursday evening. Keith went to work these days, but he made sure I was not alone.  We are so thankful for our friends that were here – even when one had to cancel, someone else filled the spot immediately.  You know they always say it takes a village to raise a child, but I have also found out it takes a village to walk through cancer.  I am thankful for my village.  Whether it is sitting at my house while I am sleeping or helping with E or bringing us dinner, my village is not letting us do this alone!

Days 18-19

Saturday and Sunday.  I was finally feeling a little better, and we got out and went to the store to pick up a few things.  I had not eaten much up until this point although friends had brought dinner over every night this week. THANK YOU all very much!  Keith and E were well fed!  I had really just been sleeping and eating mashed potatoes, and actually was scared to eat anything thinking it would make the cancer grow.  Saturday, I sent a message to a friend who is a nutritionist with a background in oncology patients.  We talked, and she helped me tremendously!  I remember when I messaged her, she asked if she could call me…and I told her sure, but I had been crying ever since I sent the message…and she called, and I cried, and she gave me great advice on how to eat.  I ate more that day, which I am sure helped me feel a little better too.

Sunday, Keith and E went to church, and I stayed home.  A friend came over after I finally got up and moving for the day.  We ran an errand and then went and had lunch.  I could tell I was still a little weak while we were out, but I remembered being told that moving would help fight the fatigue once I felt like getting up and moving – so I was trying!

I had texted Keith and told him to take E to lunch and do something fun with her…she has been a little trooper, and I knew she wanted to do something on Saturday but I just was not up to it. They had some fun daddy/daughter time and then came back home.

Day 20

Monday.  Keith took me to my follow-up appointment to have lab work done, to see my oncologist, and receive fluids, if needed.  As you can tell from the beginning of this post, I needed the fluids, and I did feel better after that!

When I went in to have my labs done – it was another one of those moments…looking around the room and seeing all these people having their labs done just like me…CANCER STINKS!

My counts were low but not too bad.  I felt like my appointment with my oncologist was positive.  I found out we will be doing a sonogram sometime after my next round of chemo so they can see how the tumor is shrinking.  Please pray with me that this tumor is shrinking down to nothing!

After my appointment with my doctor, I sat and waited for the lidocane cream to numb the port area, and then went in for my fluids.  Once we finished up the fluids, a friend met us and brought me back home while Keith went back to work.

I am sure I have left out things.  As my friends that were here with me this past week read this, maybe they will remind me and I can do an update.  One thing I will say, this journey is hard.  There are ups and there are downs.  I had some really hard days this first chemo week.  I have shed some tears.  I have asked, why me?   I also have to remember that God knew long before I was ever born that I was going to face this trial and He is going to walk through this with me.  He has put an ARMY of people around me and my family to walk with us.  This past week, I had friends encouraging me in those low moments when we would be texting and I would be having a hard time.  I have said before that sometimes those texts come at just the time I need them.

I am going to wrap this LONG post up now…if you have made it this far, thank you!  I will try and not go a whole week again without posting.  The scripture I am ending with is one that I saw when I opened up my Bible late Friday night or the early hours of Saturday morning.  I started to read and noticed a scripture that was double underlined – I read it and knew that was what God wanted me to know right then.

Thank you for walking this journey with us,
Amanda

For nothing is impossible with God.  Luke 1:37

 

 

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Update by Amy

Many of you have been wondering how Amanda has been doing since her first chemo treatment on Tuesday. She has received your calls and texts and appreciates you checking on her – so please don’t stop!! She just hasn’t had the energy to reply. She has been resting quite a bit. She has had varying degrees of nausea, but has been staying on top of medicine to try to help with that. Today, she is feeling the worst she has so far, but we hope this means that the chemo is doing its thing! Please keep praying for tumor shrinkage! She will post her own update once she is feeling better. – amy

Port Day · Prayer Requests

Day 13 – April 17, 2017

UPDATED PRAYER REQUESTS:

  • Tomorrow (April 18, 2017) is my first chemo treatment.  Please pray for minimal side effects.
  • PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PRAY that during the first month we see the shrinkage the doctors are wanting to see.  I learned today that we want shrinkage in the first month.  Honestly, I would love to be told after the first round that there was great shrinkage…and you know what, we serve a God that is in the healing business! Maybe I will get good news after the first round…please, please keep praying.
  • Also, pray that all my levels stay where they are supposed to be after this chemo treatment so that when I go to my follow up with my doctor next week, we can keep my chemo on schedule.

Today was port day!  I was up early and off to the hospital.  My friend, Susan C, drove me to the hospital. Keith got E off to school and worked for a while. He and Susan were waiting for me when I got back from recovery.

The morning started off with us checking in and having some of the sweetest nurses get me ready, start an IV and ask all the questions that had to be asked.

If you have read the previous posts, you will remember how on scan day, the guy that started my IV told me his wife had used the same surgical oncologist.  Well, guess what!  The nurse today also had breast cancer, and she had used the same surgical oncologist. It does not stop there.  A hospital volunteer came in my room, and she was the nicest lady.  She came in and told me she was a breast cancer survivor and asked if I have any questions for her. She did have different doctors but spoke highly of my doctor too.  We talked about hair, chemo, and eating.  We could have probably talked longer, but they were ready to get the meds started to take me back.  I love how God is putting people in front of me at these appointments that are breast cancer survivors (or their wives are).

My awesome OB/GYN (I call her my everything doctor) stopped by and saw me.  I am so blessed to have her as my doctor…like I have mentioned before, she has walked a tough road with me in the past and is walking this one with me now.

We are are so thankful for all the prayers. I’ve said it before but will probably say it a million times, PRAYER WORKS, people, PRAYER WORKS.

By nature, I am a worrier…I tell people they do not need to worry about things, just call me and I will worry for them.  That being said, you can probably imagine the worry from a cancer diagnosis.  I have definitely shed some tears, don’t get me wrong, lots of tears, especially those first two days, but I have also been able to function and live life as normally as possible for my daughter. The doctors think we can kick this cancer, and I am believing that God is going to heal me. He can use the chemo treatments to heal my body, or He can take the tumor away. Either way, I am praying for complete healing in my body and that I am going to get to say that I am cancer free, and would love for you to join me in that prayer for healing.

If you know me, you know it is hard for me to let people help me because I like to help others… but it has truly been a blessing.  Thank you, Amy, for setting up the meal calendar and making sure that I did not have to worry about that.  Thank you friends for filling that meal calendar.  It made me cry the first time I saw people signing up.  Thank you for all the meals that have already been brought over and for all the meals to come.

I read all the texts, Facebook posts and messages, emails, and as of today the comments on the blog!  I may not be able to return them all timely but know they are all being read. They all encourage me and remind me of all the people praying for me and supporting me during this time.  As one friend has posted “this army is ready to fight with you”.  I love knowing I have an army fighting with me and praying with me and for me as we start a journey that we did not plan to embark on.

Thank you for walking this journey with us,
Amanda

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV