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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Bell Has Been Rung - LAST CHEMO REPORT!

ZERO...big FAT ZERO is how many more chemo treatments I have. Whew! What a mix of emotions as I arrived with Mom, Stacey, Dawn and my niece Kylee. What a sweet morning. Let me tell you why with a short little backstory. Back when I was going in for daily antibiotics, I passed a man pushing an older lady in a wheel chair. I looked down at the face of the woman and had instant recognition. At least I thought I saw someone who looked familiar. As we walked out of the oncology office I turned to Mom and said, "I think I just saw Mrs. Jurgens"

Now, Mrs. Sharon Jurgens was my third grade teacher. I had seen her a few times since then but have to say she is a special lady in our family. She taught every one of the Bushlack kids as they each passed through the third grade at Emerson Elementary school in Marion. So there's the backstory...this morning who do you think walked into the office while I was starting to get a little impatient about having to wait so long to get back and get going? Mrs. Jurgens and her husband.

I sat a few minutes before I looked over at them but again, I recognized her right away. Sitting there I know that I was going to try to go over to her and introduce myself, but she was working with her husband on filling out papers and I didn't want to interrupt. I sat waiting. Then Mom caught my eye and mouthed the works "that is Mrs. Jurgens" I said "I KNOW!" She mouthed "you have to go talk to her!" but I didn't want to interrupt. Sure enough, there seemed to be a little break and so I walked over and sat beside her, put my hand on her arm and said "are you Sharon Jurgens?" For a moment she was a little confused but she nodded and I told her I was Jody Bushlack. Right away she looked over at Mom and recognized her right away.

We probably chatted between 5-10 minutes before it was my turn to go back. She has fought cancer three times now since 2010. We talked about teaching and it was ironic that she said "do you know they don't even want to teach cursive writing anymore?" I smile now when I think about that. She taught me cursive and I remember thinking as she would do her examples on the board how beautiful her cursive letters were. I had a good teacher that year and can remember a lot about that classroom...the first one on the right when you come in the front door at Emerson Elementary.

Okay, that was a little long but it was something pretty special to be able to tell your 3rd grade teacher that you are praying for her and hope that this is the last time she will have to fight this awful disease. We did make it back to the infusion room. There was a room on the end that was open so we took a private room for the first time. There was a couch and coffee table all set up for the "colorers" and the card players.

I was more tired than normal as the infusion started. The girls stayed busy the whole time between Stacey's bag of goodies and my own. They colored in the color books for awhile and then played a VERY spirited game of Sushi GO! I could hear the voices as I dozed. It made my heart smile even though my eyes were having trouble focusing or staying open. Very uneventful time during infusion which makes me happy. I was up and to the bathroom before I knew it (I am still taking the water pills to try to reduce the puffiness a little faster)

Reading the verse out loud

Ringing the Bell! Good-bye to chemo

The nurses gathered around the bell, my loved ones gathered there with phones/cameras and I read the plaque out loud that said:
"Progress against adversity is not measured by leaps and bounds. It is the small steps forward that ring the bell against misfortune as you pass each hurdle in your journey to wellness. Ring this bell to celebrate your accomplishment."

You can also bet that I was praising and thanking the God who has carried me through this and continues to do so. I choked up a little. I couldn't help it, even on anti-depressants! We all hugged and said our good-byes. I think I mentioned in my Friday post that I will definitely miss these ladies. They have a special calling and do so much to make the whole experience just a little better.

So, how do I feel? My legs will be like noodles today and tomorrow and I will have an awful taste in my mouth until Friday. I will not be able to fall asleep tonight easily and on Friday and Saturday I will have bone pain in my legs, joints and neck. I will have occasional nose bleeds and my fingers will continue to be a little numb and my nails will keep pulling away from the nail bed until the yucky chemo grows out and I cut it off with my nail clippers.

THIS week that is...but next week? It will be a whole new story. Some of the above things will go on for awhile. Meanwhile, my hair is growing back slowly but surely. The bone pain will slowly go away and I will continue to make meal plans and cook for my family (I say continue because I have planned everything we will be eating this week - 15 bean soup in the crock pot as I type). I will be on my way to well from now on.

God is faithful and I am here with His help and His love for me. Here are some of the promises He has kept to me over the past five months:

  • His shield of faith has helped me to "quench all of the fiery darts of the evil one" especially the thoughts that can take over and overwhelm me just like He says it will. (Ephesians 6:16)
  • He has reminded me that I am His workmanship...even with a body full of chemo and without much hair and on some days a confused mind. (Ephesians 2:10)
  • He has shown me over and over that I am greatly loved by Him (Ephesians 2:4) many times by the hands of those who He uses to bless me.
  • I am His child...He is my Abba Father, my "Daddy" and I can laugh, cry and give him my anger in times of distress and fear. (Galatians 4:6-7)
  • His grace is all that I need..."therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" and it does. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • Nothing can separate me from His love, not death, nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, and certainly not cancer! (Romans 8:38-39)
  • He keeps the steadfast in mind in perfect peace because he trusts in Him (Isaiah 26:3)
Oh there are so many more but that is just a little bit going through my journal the last few months! Some of you might have read Friday's blog and are wondering about a plan. I do have a plan as of today. Although I was mostly expecting this, I did find out today that after a consult with Mayo radiation is recommended. The report that came from them is mainly doctor talk but I went through it pretty thoroughly with my nurse who explained it in a little better way for  me.

The main concern is that one of the lumps was actually growing in a muscle on my chest wall. Since that tumor has grown in something other than breast tissue, it is of a concern that it could occur now in other tissue. They want to do radiation onto the chest wall to do everything they can to keep anything from growing in other places on the chest wall. You know, with that explanation I am good with the plan.

So, next Thursday we will consult with the radiation people and two weeks from today I check back into the oncology lab for blood work and to see how my body is doing. Then after a 3 or 4 week break (from today) I will start on the radiation regimen which will be every day (M-F) for six weeks. So there is celebration and a plan tonight. I am looking forward to putting on my red and gold and cheering on some girls as the Indians have a home game tonight. Normal...it will come in small steps.
Lunch fun

 Mom took us all to lunch at Country Kitchen in Marion. It was fun to have the girls with us talking about their middle school girl things. It was certainly a celebration! Thank you all for your prayers as I am putting into practice a more active lifestyle in the next few weeks. Slowly but it will be something. I love you all!

Psalm 103:1-3 "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.


  1. Thank you for the story about Mrs. Jurgens. I remember she and another teacher at Emerson invited me to do a talk/demo on making maple syrup and weaving for their Pioneer unit. Living where we do all our five children went to Starry and rode the bus to school. Will continue to pray for healing. It has been interesting to follow your story and your faith journey. A lady in a church circle I use to belong to was just the opposite. Everything was bad and so negative, that I resigned from that circle. I don't need all that negativity in my life. Will continue to follow your story. The walnut lady.

    1. Jean, you are inspiring to me! All that you do and know. I bet your maple syrup talks and weaving demos gave some young minds something to think about. I always loved when people came to demonstrate real life things in class. We are happy to keep providing walnuts for you!

  2. Jody, I celebrate your blessing today and the excitement you must feel knowing your chemo is DONE! That beautiful lady is a PTL!!! Where did you go to take your infusion treatments? I go to the U of I and have another infusion tomorrow. I am on Keytruda and so far it is working well and I have no side effects that we are aware of. And that is a blessing for me! The Lord thought I needed two really bad knees where I am walking bone on bone, so am trying to have a good attitude about everything. I do not praise God much and wish I had your heart getting through all this and the pain. You have been a great example to me and I thank you for that! I am looking forward to the day I can ring the bell as well!!!

  3. I am so proud of you. I thank God for getting you through it. I love your picture ringing the bell.

  4. Hooray for this milestone being met!! You are an inspiration with your positive outlook. May He continue to bless you with healing and comfort.