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Monday, March 20, 2017

Update...How is it Going?

We were sitting around at Mom and Dad's last night and my sister pulled up an email from the high school principal. He was talking about coming back from spring break and finishing the year strong. We were actually giggling about some of the wording but it was the main point of the email that hit me. We are closer to winding down this year than we are from the beginning.

I was just at registration wasn't I? Didn't I JUST pay the textbook fees and the instrument rentals? Didn't we JUST buy school supplies? Not fair...this year flew by. It flew by while I was busy taking care of me. That is by far not my favorite thing. I think of last year at this time...a bomb was ticking and ready to go off. This was about the time when I knew something wasn't right. I just wasn't convinced yet that it could be something all that bad.

But let's not focus on all of that. Here is the good news if you want a few tidbits...

  • I wore my wedding ring yesterday and today for the first time in months. I still have to take it off at bedtime because of the claustrophobic feeling it gives me, but I will take it!
  • Piggybacking off of the first point there, the swelling has gone down a lot and I really only feel extra fluid in my right arm where the lymph nodes are gone.
  • I walked up the huge staircase from the basement to the main floor of our church this morning after I taught KBF (Sunday school) and only had a slight stretching feeling in my legs and did not feel like I couldn't catch my breath or that I had to sit down and rest. I am thankful that I have been able to teach most of this year despite the chemo and radiation. I love the little people who come see me each week!
  • Matthew has changed his bedtime prayer once again. Now he no longer prayers "God, please help Mom with her radiation" but instead prays "God, please help so Mom doesn't have cancer EVER again!" I can definitely say a hearty AMEN to that prayer each and every night. Zachary is praying "help Mom feel better from her radiation". Another hearty AMEN.
  • Speaking of Zachary...he let me take off my scarf Saturday night during prayer time and he saw my head without a covering. I have a good bit of hair growing back and although it is not at a length where it can be styled, he approved. For those who didn't know, he has not seen my head without a wig or other covering since we shaved it back in August.
  • My fingernails are slowly growing back! Woo Hoo!
  • I have been on my new hormone pill for well over a week and received my first injection last Thursday and so far no hot flashes or anything troubling. I hope it stays that way...that would be a plus!
  • How is the armpit you may ask? EXCELLENT in comparison to the last time I talked armpit! I am sure that there will be some more peeling over the whole area but for now, it is just the scar area that is peeling, burning, raw and hurting. I would like to thank my sweet friend Jayna in second grade Sunday school who has had a year and a half of her own surgeries and healing after major burns (in her armpit area too) for testing all of the possible burn creams. Her mom has given me a couple of samples and recommendations that have worked for her and they are helping me a lot too! The area of major peeling and pain currently is my cleavage where the 7" scar is that was treated the last week of radiation.

Ready to put away for good the "doctoring" supplies on
my bathroom counter!

Let's just take a minute for a funny story here now that I have mentioned the burn cream. I have a prescription from radiation for cream. The pharmacy gave me three little tubes. There is a lot of area to cover so I slathered it (because it feels really good) in the morning and before bed. I went through a little tube every day and a half. So last week when I went in to refill it they said "you can't get a refill until the 17th" Ohhh! They wanted me to use it sparingly. Hmm...so you are saying that I have "overdosed" on steroid cream? At the time it was six days before I could get it refilled and I used it twice as fast as I should have! So, the sample creams came in handy. All last week I used them and felt better. Friday I got my refill. My rationing skills are much better this time around. (Love my steroid cream at bedtime!)

I am closing my post with the happy thought of less posts about me to come. Sitting last night with my calendar going through the numbers of email reminders of this, that and the other coming up in the next couple months of school (and now even into the summer), I am blessed. It is crazy the difference a year makes.

Psalm 139:14 "I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chicken Tetrazzini and Dodgeball?

I forgot how much I loved to make chicken tetrazzini. Not only making it, but how the whole house smells like yumminess and then the taste...that yummy taste. My mom taught me how to saute with this recipe. You saute the pepper/onion/celery/mushroom mixture in a huge skillet. I made a regular batch and a gluten free batch and boy did it ever feel good to start with a clean kitchen and "clean as you go". To just be in the kitchen was nice. Slowly, I am reminded of my life in the kitchen. But I digress...
On  our way

The tetrazzini making is a full day/afternoon event. You put the whole chicken in a pot and boil it for an hour or two (I suppose you could use canned chicken or rotisserie chicken from the store but where's the fun in that?) One of the eulogies read at Marcia's service yesterday mentioned her lasagna. The trick to hers is to let the meat and tomatoes simmer all afternoon. I smiled when I heard that because that is the way my mom taught me to make it too.

Lasagna and chicken tetrazzini. Growing up, those were the two meals that were actually "events". I guess those and potato dumplings but when Dad was making those we all stood clear of the kitchen! The thing about Friday is that there were going to be three extra kids for supper. I was chauffeuring a dodgeball team to the annual NCBC spring break dodgeball tournament. It has become a thing now for the middle schoolers. Ryan and Dawn had put together a team and it added a little fun to a spring break that we had to spend here at home.

A couple weren't too fond of the tetrazzini after making an attempt to pick things out and that is okay, a couple of mine don't love it either. Something about cooked peppers I hear. It was so great to be in the kitchen and make the house smell amazing! If you have read the blog very long you know that I feed my family in my kitchen but don't find it to be my favorite place. I often say I wish I liked cooking better. I am afraid that most of the blessings I give to my family come from other areas of my house.

I am not a terrible cook. In fact, I am pretty great with a recipe and the proper tools. Thankfully, the kids got fed in time to get them on the road to the tournament. Middle school kids filling my van although very loud, is something that I love. It is fun to be a little bit privy to their discussions and interests. You could say that I enjoyed my part on the winning team.
Designers of the awesome matching t-shirts!
Waiting for a little bit of action

Oh...did you see that, I gave it away. The Smurfs (in the blue shirts specially designed) won the tournament with a record of 7-1. What can I say, I was proud...not a bad way to spend a Friday night. Life gets too serious sometimes!

Waiting to start at match
Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner! (oh yeah, they already
had the chicken dinner...if only there weren't the peppers!)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Blessed Hope

I forgot how much I love chicken tetrazzini. That, and how good it feels to bawl your eyes out. I end this day extremely full and although I had a great Friday "heart" kind of post in my head for yesterday, the events of the day did not allow me to sit down and write. So today, having a chance (although it is ten p.m.) to sit and type, it is not the ideas that were floating in my head yesterday that will give this post a heart-like feel.

Today my day started with piano competition (but that is fodder for a totally different post). I got to deliver a meal to friends who had a new baby recently, I got to bop around town with my daughter which is always fun because her favorite place to be is "out and about" so she was happy. I also got to attend the "celebration of life" service for an amazing woman of God with that same daughter.

I know Marcia through her nieces Kristen and Melody mostly. I remember her fondly when we and a few other friends wanted to get together for scrapbooking. Marcia offered their house to meet in which was more centrally located for everyone. We had a wonderful Friday night and Saturday. The food was yummy and the atmosphere in the house was cozy and inviting. We also shared time together in a Bible study this past year.

What a celebration it was. She is with the Lord and she wanted everyone to know Him. There was singing and sharing of stories. There were tissues and tears. Marcia battled breast cancer twice in the last thirteen years. It was what opened the door to heaven for her. Don't think that has not sat heavy on my heart because it has. There are a couple others recently who have also gone before any human mind would think it was time. But then, it isn't our time to keep.

There were way too many reminders today of the trust and the hope and the sovereignty of our God to camp in the worried or fearful. I was thankful of those reminders. Many songs that were part of the service were songs that I have played from my playlist over and over these past few months. So yes, there were a couple of times I remember telling myself "a month ago I wouldn't be worried about my mascara running". I am thankful for eyelashes once again.

I was wondering all the while how things were sitting with my daughter who was next to me. She wanted to come because she babysits for Maricia's great-nieces, one of which is in my Sunday school class and has for the last few weeks had her aunt on her mind during prayer time. Last week she raised her hand "my aunt died". There were hugs and prayers.

On the way home, as it usually happens, we were discussing some pretty heavy things as we drove into the garage. Not getting into many details of the much postponed conversation (since that would be her story to tell), I will say that we sat in the garage in the van and talked about some of life's HUGE questions. She shared how she didn't want to tell me her troubles when she knew I wasn't feeling well (she said I could share this if I wanted to). Already starting to cry, I grabbed her and hugged her as she said through tears "I am so glad you are still here".

And there it was...I bawled, I sobbed. Ugly crying, so that the mascara that was left was all washed away. All of those yucky blue feelings of late came out in a waterfall of emotion. These are the things of life. The things of this broken and sin-filled life. These are the things until He comes back for us. I loved that Marcia's celebration today began in 1 Thessalonians 4:13...the blessed hope. There are many that I know and love who will be at the front of the line as "the dead in Christ" who will rise first.

Something that this life has taught me is that we are best to live it one day at a time. It is all that we can handle as humans. It was an "ah-ha" moment in my time with Him one day studying the Lord's prayer. Many people may have gotten this much earlier in life but I would say it has probably been no more than 15 years ago when I saw the words (of the prayer I had memorized as a small child) "give us this day our daily bread". DAILY...it is not mine to ask for tomorrow's or the next day or five years from now. Jesus gives what we need for today so why fret about tomorrow when I don't have what I need for that today? Oh so much easier said than done isn't it?

I remember my grandma used to sing along to a song when it played on the radio called "One Day at a Time" by Merle Haggard and I had no idea what a great lesson that is until years later. I thought of her today too while we were singing "I'll Fly Away". That was another she would hum along with. She'll be one of those firsts in  the front of the line too.

"One day at a time, sweet Jesus. That's all I'm asking from You
Give me the strength to do everyday when I have to do
Yesterday's gone, sweet Jesus, and tomorrow may never me mine
So for my sake, teach me to take one day at a time."

(I guess I will have to talk about chicken tetrazzini tomorrow)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Arrow of Light

Arrow of Light:

The highest rank in Cub Scouting is the Arrow of Light. Earning this rank prepares a Webelos Scout to become a Boy Scout. Scouts must complete four required adventures and three elective adventures to earn the Arrow of Light rank. For each adventure a boy completes, he receives a pin to wear on the Webelos colors or on his hat.

The Arrow of Light Badge:
The Arrow of Light badge is the only Cub Scout badge that can be worn on the Boy Scout uniform when a boy graduates into a troop. Adult leaders who earned the Arrow of Light rank when they were young may also show their achievement by wearing a special square knot on their adult uniform.

It has been a couple of weeks now since Zachary has received his Arrow of Light at our cub scout pack's annual Blue and Gold banquet last month. We are so proud of the work he has done as a scout through the years. He is continuing on with his scout friends and has become a boy scout.

I could kick myself for not videoing when Rob, his den leader spoke of the things he saw in Zachary in the last three years as his leader. Did I get teary? Yes! I think that at each level when I see that another milestone has been reached I am so grateful to the people who have shared in the process with us.

It was a great day as we celebrated Zachary's accomplishment. It has been a big year for this mom. He has successfully tackled middle school and is amazing in his classes and extra curricular activities. He has finished up his time in Webelos and now has an Arrow of Light hanging above his bed like big brother Ryan.

Leader Rob said some pretty great things about our boy

The cool thing that Zachary received from one of his new Troop leaders is the patch for his new patrol as a boy scout. How fitting that he is in the pirate platypus patrol!

We are now on to new and bigger things. Ryan went into Troop 42 from the pack he was in while we lived in Cedar Rapids. Ryan is now working on his Eagle and so instead of joining him in his troop, Zachary decided to move to the troop where his scout friends were going here in Marion. So there will be a little bit of time to learn how the new troop works. New and bigger adventures ahead and are we ever proud of this boy!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday From the Heart: Done

I just hit Ctrl A and delete to get rid of the last 30+ minutes of typing for me. You all don't need to hear my whining but yet, I feel like that is all I have been doing in the last 24 hours. You would think that the day after my last day of radiation I would be throwing a party and celebrating but yet, when I left the office yesterday with my certificate and bottle of sparkling cider it was a darkening shade of blue that was hanging in the air.

It makes no sense to me. And to those of you who have also suffered with anxiety or depression it may sound all too familiar. My first anxiety attack started in the salon when I was getting my nails done. Who in the world is anxious when they are getting their nails done by the same person who has done them for you for four years? It was my most peaceful place back in 1997. But yet, I was trying to decide on my way home if I should take the exit to the hospital (I thought for sure I was having a heart attack), or just go home and lie down.

Last time donning the pink backwards gown!
It is like you get through what would seem to be the most anxious times on adrenaline and then when you least expect it BAM anxiety comes to disturb your peace. My blue times when the depression hits are like that too. Why in the world should I be discouraged and depressed when I am DONE with all the intensity that has been cancer treatment in the last eight months? I have no idea. God is still HUGE and is still over all. It isn't like there is some kind of shaking of my faith. I am just blue. At the end of my radiation, I am blue. Go figure.

Despite that, the kids are home for the beginning of spring break and I am so glad to have them. The busy-ness and noise of people in the house makes me happy. They know that I am not moving at full speed and are good to help when the stretching of the burnt and peeling skin is too much. Laundry is the worst. There will be no posting of the current look of my armpit but as I compare what I see in the mirror to what I posted it is no comparison. I have determined that some of my blue comes from ever present discomfort of my upper right quadrant...with every move. The best time of day is when I have slathered all the reddish/purplish skin and gotten settled in my bed with comfy pillows and blankets. For about an hour I can lay there reading and almost forget what it looks like and feels like under my pajama top! I look forward to that all day.

I do have to say that a box full of fabric from my aunt in today's mail definitely cheered me up! A couple days ago she said she was going to send some to me when she had a chance to get to the post office so I wasn't expecting it two days later but YAY! I am looking forward to some time with my machine this evening after supper. I have a couple of quilts in the works and a few more in my head. Tomorrow I hope that I can jump into some serious work in my bedroom. I think part of my problem is that my room has been such a mess lately that I can't go back there and just rest for a little bit. I think focusing on some clutter areas, ironing some clothes and vacuuming will do me some good.

I am blessed beyond what I deserve to have the husband and kids that I have. A special word about David...this time around things have been so different than last time. I sang his praises back in the days when he was packing daikon strips into open wounds as I cried with the pain. He was doctoring at every turn, whatever the doctor's instructions were, he was either doing them or making sure that I was taking care of the things I could do myself.

This time around though I have had a hard time really including him in the actual treatment. He works during the day and so he certainly didn't have to come to chemo with me every week. He came once when I was afraid of the new Taxol protocol and possible reaction to it. He was the one I wanted there in case anything were to happen. It was awesome to have him in the ER waiting room while we waited to get in last fall when I spiked a fever. He got me settled in the ER room but had to get home to be sure that the household ran smoothly in the morning when everyone else had to get to school. My job was to stay in the hospital and get the rest I needed. He came with me to radiation once to see how it all worked but there was no reason that he had to come every day with me and I wouldn't want him to.

Things have just been different this time. Almost like it is "old hat" for me and so I didn't want to bother him to have to be there with every appointment or treatment. So now I sit here at the end of the treatment period and feel grateful for all he has done while I have not been able. Then I wonder what our new normal will look like. Thinking of our 25th anniversary coming up in August and all that "marriage" has meant to these two...him and I. I look forward to talks that don't include "how was chemo today?" or "what did the doctor say?" What was that like? To be honest, I look forward to finding out.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Medically Induced Menopause...Bring it On!

The number one question that I have had in the last week is "what is next after radiation?" Until today I had a very vague idea of what was to come. Today I had a two month out check up and we got the run down of what will be my next step on this road to be diligent that I do everything I can do to keep that cancer away.

One of Matthew's friends at school went home this week and told her mom "Matthew's mom is done with cancer on Thursday"! It makes me smile that Matthew is sharing this great milestone and is excited to spread the word. Yes, done with radiation and the worst of the cancer treatment. (I will not talk about my armpit today...I only THOUGHT it was bad last week!) Now, it is tricking my body to do what we need it to do so that it doesn't feed cancer.

I am what you call "in the middle" of perimenopause. Not at the young end, not at the old end. The average age of women who begin menopause is 51. Chemotherapy stops the monthly cycles of women who are on it. Sometimes it stops it permanently and sometimes the ovaries wake up and start back at it. Most of the time that is determined by a woman's age. Since I am in the middle of the range, we need to continue suppressing the production of estrogen in my ovaries since my cancer is estrogen driven.

There will be a monthly injection of lupron for awhile until we see how my body responds. If all is good, eventually I will be able to cut that down to once every three months. I will also be starting an oral hormone on Friday (not wasting any time) the day after radiation. This will be a daily pill that will be monitored for a couple months to make sure that I am tolerating all of the "menopausal" side effects. Joy!

Once we get everything working and good I have the opportunity to jump into a trial if I want which I think I went into a little bit last week in my post. It is a 50/50 chance I would be on the drug and for ten years I would be closely monitored no matter which group the computer puts me in. I kinda like the idea of closely monitored since this is the second time around with cancer for me, this time in stage 4.

So, we will see what happens. Bring on menopause!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

What? Strep...Are You Sure?

Last Friday afternoon I arrived at the high school with my bleacher seat at 2:00 p.m. The middle schoolers in my house were going to be performing for the last time at the Marion Masquerade. Last time I should say, as middle schoolers. I reported a little bit about them last week so I won't go into that here.

I arrived at two in order to watch Ryan as he is the drummer for the Vernon pep show choir Voltage. They were starting off the day with their performance at 2:15 p.m. The thing about the schedule was that Velocity, the choir that Dawn and Ryan sing in didn't perform until 9:00 p.m. I enjoy watching show choir so I was ready with my bleacher seat to spend the afternoon/evening there.

Mom and Dad were going to come later, a little closer to the time that the kids perform. I had asked them if they wanted to check in with Zachary or Matthew to see if they wanted to come. At about 8:00 they came and Matthew was with them. Our discussion went something like this.

Me: Hey! What have you been doing all afternoon? (they didn't have school)
Matthew: I have been laying on the couch wrapped in a blanket. For some reason it is really cold in our house today.
Me: Oh, okay. (thinking that is pretty strange)

The next choir was about to perform and so I turned to him and said, "hey, do you want to sit on my lap for a better view?" He climbed right up and we settled in to watch the performance. It didn't take long for me to figure out that I was correct, something isn't right here. This boy has a fever. I could tell just by having him on my lap. By the time that choir had finished he had his head against my shoulder.

I asked him "you really want to be back on the couch wrapped in that blanket don't you?" He nodded and I told him I know he doesn't feel good. So, I called his dad and David came and picked him up. Poor boy, he felt decent laying down all afternoon but once he got up and started moving around he was miserable.

So I thought here is number four that has succumbed to the flu. Saturday went by with everything on the schedule being done (Matt had to miss the Blue and Gold scout banquet which he was bummed about). But then the evening struck. Fever up to 103.8 and ibuprofen was not even touching it. I get a little on edge when my kids are up that high since it is very rare and I had never had a kid who wouldn't drop their temp when they got medicine.

For six hours we tried to get his fever down with ice under both armpits, a cool bath, three popcycles...and nothing. David took a run to the store for the liquid tylenol and we gave him that finally when he could have his next dose and slowly he was down in the 100's which made him much more comfortable.

Sunday, he started spiking again at 2:30 so I took him to the urgent care. To my total surprise and shock his strep test came back positive. Wow...we have never had strep in our house. It just has never been something we deal with. But, awesome because he can have antibiotic and feel better quicker. So he started on his medicine.

He had to stay home on Monday because he hadn't been on meds 24 hours yet. So, he played video games while I worked on some projects in my recliner. As you can see he pulled out the old Mario game and started saying..."I bet you don't know about this" and he would find a secret mushroom or 1 up. He was impressed when I told him "yes, I knew that". I explained to him that this is the only version of Mario there was when I was younger. I know where to find all the secret hidden things. He thought that was pretty cool and I enjoyed my day with Matthew. Although he did beat me handily in Wii bowling several times. (I may have to do some secret practicing!)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Friday From the Heart: His Church Upheld By His Hand

Don't worry...no pictures today of weird things that are happening to my body! There are other things that are happening in my life but I don't really think that I feel like reporting on them either. I don't know what I feel like sharing today but I do know what I have been thinking a lot about lately.

I have turned off the radio and have been listening to my play list. It is a large list and it includes all kinds of songs. So yesterday I was caught a little off guard when I heard Steve Green...a song that some may feel is a little behind the times, one that I can't remember the last time it came up from my shuffle list. The style may be out of date but the words rang true to me and I ended up in my garage after parking my van just singing at the top of my lungs. (you just can't get that same concentrated sound anywhere else) His song is "We Believe"...
..."We believe in the Spirit, Who makes believers one. Our hearts are filled with His presence, the Comforter has come. His kingdom unfolds in His plan, unhindered by quarrels of man. His church upheld by His hand. We believe."
The words rang out to me and reminded me of many things probably most importantly the time I spent last fall before Christmas in the book of Ephesians and how I have prayed for unity in His body for so long. Paul reveals the mystery that is His church, a mixture of all people who believe, every kind...Jews, Gentiles, young, old, men, women and of every color according to His gift of grace.
Ephesians 4:1-7 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is ONE body and ONE Spirit, just as also you were called in ONE hope of your calling; ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
Oh how we all have too much of ourselves in us. I fight it every day. To remember that His plan is unhindered by our quarrels here on earth, I turn to the Comforter and He reminds me of all the things that He promises. His church is upheld by His hand. I recently saw a quote online that said "Christianity is one generation away from extinction". I know His promises and I know that this is far from true.

The very church that Paul was writing to, on fire for the work of the Lord would face a warning from Jesus Himself in Revelation 2:
v. 4-5 "But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lamp stand out of its place - unless you repent.
What were the things that Jesus saw as strengths for this church who had fallen? Here is the list I complied from verses 1-3:

  • your toil and perseverance
  • they can not tolerate evil men
  • they put to the test those who call themselves apostles, finding them to be false
  • endured for the sake of Christ
  • have not grown weary
But they left their first love...eventually, they stopped doing those things and the church there in Ephesus died, the lamp stand was removed.

Why do I use this as an example? Because although this one church did not repent, Christianity is NOT one generation from extinction. Jesus told Peter in Matthew 16:18 "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." Jesus is not looking away and oops...what has happened to My church? He is "The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lamp stands". To the church at Pergamum He is "the One who has the sharp two-edged sword"

His church will always be. In fact, the kingdom of this world will become the "Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ". Handel knew the promises of Jesus to his church too when he wrote the Messiah. These promises are never out of date will always be in style. Thankfully they can be held tightly to when the winds of doubt and fear can sometimes shake us to the core.

So I thank the Holy Spirit, my Comforter for reminding, and for drawing me into His Word to remember my first love. To pour over and study and live in my first love. He can remove His lamp stand from A church, but He will never leave HIS church.

The beauty of the Steve Green song, and my very favorite part is what makes me thankful.
"Though the earth be removed and time be no more, these truths are secure, God's Word shall endure. Whatever may change, these things are sure...we believe. So if the mountains are cast down into the flame, when kingdoms all crumble, this one remains, our faith is not subject to seasons of men with our fathers we proclaim: We believe our Lord will come as He said, the land and the sea will give up their dead. His children will reign with Him as their head...we believe."
There are far too many who have forgotten that He is coming again. This is not our home. Our hearts ache not because of the things that happen in this earthly place, and when they do, we need to remember...it is our home we are longing for. Do we have an eternal perspective when we face the littleness of our trials and tribulations? Littleness? Yes...car problems are little compared to my God, three people with the flu for two weeks is little compared to my God, disputes between family and friends are little compared to my God, and YES, cancer is little compared to my BIG GOD.

No, I am not fretful about my church, my family, my life here on earth. Because "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us...the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God." No, Christianity is not going to become extinct so I am not worried that my God will somehow NOT call all of those to Him in His time. I pray every day and trust Him for my part in His plan to do so.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Radiation: An Education

I can't believe I forgot to include a little tid-bit yesterday in my update! I was going to add this picture and share something but published the post before I remembered.

About a week ago there were scabs on my upper back. Thinking through the week I realized that I had a spot that was itchy and I had been scratching. Looking in the mirror after my shower the next day I saw a red spot. Like a sunburn. Hmm.

Come to find out, the doctor explained to me that the radiation goes through the front but the skin on my back is radiated too and will tend to get some of that sunburn look and the skin will be dry and itchy like a sunburn.

Wow, I never thought of that. so, the spots on my back where there is red (and the picture doesn't really do it justice), is where the radiation is aimed at the front but goes through me to my back and affects the skin above my shoulder blade. Well, you learn something new every day.

So now my back gets a 3x daily dose of coconut oil too!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Worry, Woe and All is Well

Worry...a lot of life can hit us all at once sometimes. This past week was one of those times for me. Without going into details, it was a busy weekend after a week of quite a few nights up way past my bedtime engaged in some emotional discussions. A lack of sleep and a full calendar can cause any of us to be a little frazzled and for me I started to be fretful.

I don't usually feel fretful for long. It is something I have learned to recognize right away. I love that God will take that from me for the most part when I ask Him to. I love Him for doing that for me. I was reminded that the emotional fretfulness is in His hands and I need to trust Him. There are plenty of physical ills that I need to focus on getting through.

Woe...I have one more day of the radiation I have been doing for the last five and a half weeks. It is just about time too, my armpit really couldn't take much more. I am throwing out all dignity and actually posting a picture of my armpit. It has been pretty painful and has caused me to be short with my kids and sometimes a not so fun person to be around.

On Tuesday they set me up and showed me what will happen next. There is a metal slide that will be put onto a special piece that fits over the radiation machine. That starts on Friday. Five days of "boost" to the scar in front.

The doctor had to come in to sign off on the set up and he asked the nurse in very broken English what this was? He pointed to my mastectomy scar across the front. I explained that it was from the surgery in 2013. It hit me as he left the room that this has gone on a long time. Almost done.

They marked with a Sharpie the borders on top and bottom of the metal slide so they know where to line up the machine. I am dreading the last five days actually. They will use the bolis which I explained in an earlier post adds an extra layer on top of my skin so the radiation will be closer to the surface (like the spot under my arm). Thankfully it will be only five days really quickly. The scar is already irritated (as you can see in the picture). Should be interesting.

Meanwhile...my hair is growing, still not as much on top in the front but it is coming along. I got so excited last weekend about my little short eye lashes growing that I put some mascara on. It may not have been the best time to debut my mascara lashes since I was extra emotional during the weekend activities. The mascara was not waterproof!

You can also see shadows of eyebrows growing in. Once they started growing they have come in fast. I am still drawing some but it won't be long til they are all my own.

Some have asked what is next and I would have to say that I am not sure. I have my next oncology appointment next Tuesday. It has been a month since I have been in the office. The longest time between appointments since June. I do know a few things. First of all I will have an injection every month for ten years. Since my cancer needs estrogen to grow we are trying to keep my hormones on a level that will not allow cancer to come back.

I have also been considering a clinical trial that they have told me about. There is a packet I have been going through to determine if it is something I want to try. Of course they tell you all of the things that could happen to you while you are taking the drug. Anything from a hangnail to DEATH and all of the things in between. It would just be an extra pill with what I would take with my regular regimen. I think there will be oral medication too for the next ten years. We will see on Tuesday.

All is well.