Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Funny things....

I actually think the OCD side of me....has actually found a "routine" with this chemo stuff.  Might just be ME... Being the control freak that I am....trying to control what simply cannot be controlled.  Whatever the case....I think I've got it down.  :)

I get the treatment on a Friday.... cram about a week's worth of "quality time" with my loves into Friday night and Saturday til about mid-afternoon when the fading starts.  Become "medicated mommy" that sends me to sleep til about Wednesday-ish! MAKE myself get back into the "land of the living" Thursday and Friday.  This, of course, assuming I finally have all the meds tweaked into working well for me.  Friday and Saturday I feel pretty decent.  I force myself to work at least a day and a half or so just so I will have enough of a paycheck for gas money!  Week 1 -- ya basically feel like crap because of the chemo side effects.  Week 2....which starts Sunday-ish....is the week that makes ya feel like crap because of low blood counts.  Different KIND of "feel like crap" but you get the idea. 

Week 2:  Sunday starts the low-grade fever.  JUST enough to make have the chills and aches and wanna be in bed.  And the dreaded mouth sores.  Lordy.  Mashed potatoes and soft serve ice cream.  There consists my meals.  I talk with a lisp and hate for ANYONE to look at my mouth.  Swollen gums and lips.....Ya don't need collogen....just chemo!  :)  I'm no medical expert....but I've seen a direct correlation with the mouth sores becoming almost immediately better with rising counts.  So Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday I get the shots to boost those.  Luckily, I can expect my mouth to only be REALLY bad for the "mashed tater diet" a day or 2.  Thursday I get a normal day!  Well....Cancer normal....but normal.  And here we are full circle....back to Friday for the next Round.  Good news is on Week 2, I'm getting to work most every day.  Knock on wood. 

Met w/Dr. Sneed today.  He seemed proud of my progress.  After a peak, he wasn't happy with my mouth pain.....even made the comment that we'd "delay treatment" Friday if it wasn't better.  Not on your LIFE!  With all due respect....Delaying treatment is not an option.  I'll be getting my prayer warriors on that....pronto!  He reviewed my records.....just to refresh himself...after all I don't think I'm his only patient....:)   I didn't panic...but did notice....he once again, in reading aloud to himself....said "your cancer is triple negative....that is the part we surely don't like...." Dangit.  My counts once again bottomed almost completely out.  So I'll be back the next three days for Neupogen shots.  No suprise there.

Since this week's treatment is the 4th and final dose of the Adriacytoxin.....aka "The Red Devil".....we did briefly talk about the final four rounds of Taxol....or Taxotere.  While no chemo is "a walk in the park"....he said that would be a good description of it in comparison to what I've been getting.  Yay!  Hope I can take that to the bank.  He said that maybe some achy-ness the first day or so and then tingling in hands and feet.  But that should be it.  Could this be some light at the end of the preverbial tunnel??  :)  I've googled about it....and sometimes they prescribe steriods with it....Lord I hope not...the last thing I wanna do is gain weight!

I love the staff there.  "Staff" seems cold.  They are simply awesome.  Oncology is a calling folks.  They fact that I feel special means they are doing their job well.  They make this journey so much easier.  They genuinely care when they ask how I'm feeling.  And are concerned when they see I'm fighting to smile.  I pray each day that they are blessed as much as they have blessed me.  While I look forward to the day that I can truly stop in and visit on the way to Park Plaza.....I know I will have forever friends there.

Well Arkansas Blue Cross/Blue Shield officially sucks in my book.....since they have officially denied my claims due to "Pre-Exisiting" condition.  My team of doctors and I are appealling my claims and I'm fighting.  But my energy to "fight" them is low.  So please pray for us.  However, the good Lord stepped in....as always the good Lord does....and through the help of financial aid officers at Baptist, I was able to qualify for a Medicaid spend-down that pays secondary to my insurance.  Its not based on income, its based upon the fact that I have breast cancer.  Its all so new, and I've not received an explanation of benefits yet to know exactly what that means, limits, etc......but I do know, that I didn't have to write a check at the doc today that would have bounced to high heavens!  Funny, I received the card, and it's already expired.  Approval is based upon 3 month periods.  So I've already started the ball rolling for the next three months.  Prayers much needed and appreciated.

My kids are doing awesome and still as wonderful as ever.  My Sam is gonna make some young lady a good husband.  He can do laundry, vacuum, change sheets, even cook a little!  Syd is teaching him well!  :)  Oh joy.  What I love about him most....is that even at 15, he climbs into the recliner with me.....or in my bed with me....for snuggle time with mom.  Those moments.....I cherish.  Syd is flittering here and there.  She is my social bug.  I'm so grateful that her entire summer isn't a total loss due to this crummy cancer. 

My friends....old and new.....are incredible.  Saturday, I was able to see some old high school buddies!  Newport's American Legion team was playing in the State Tournament at Bryant.  I was able to dig out something "orange" in my closet and go!   

The Class of '89 was represented!  :)  It was so nice to have a piece of home come to me!  Was a wonderful afternoon! 

I still continue to get cards, gifts, emails, texts, facebook messages, calls......every day. Friends who step up in any way possible.  Its overwhelming.  As horrible as "cancer" is....I've never in my life felt more blessed.  Funny how God works!

Gayle Sulik,  in a post called "The Battle They Don't Want to See" makes such a great point.  "Most have a vision of breast cancer that is too often sugar-coated with platitudes, sassy t-shirts, fun-filled fundraising galas. For some, this reality is too much to bear. But until we as a society are willing to see cancer for what it is, our capacity to support the diagnosed will always be limited." 

I'm not sure I totally agree with her statement, but I do understand and see why many would feel that way.  "Pink" has never really been my color!  ha  Very few, including myself who was once a care-giver for someone with cancer....REALLY know what it is like.  I have never felt more ugly....than I do right now.  I rarely pass a mirror without feeling disgusted.  Its like a constant reminder of my on deterioration.  Even worse....most days, I don't even care.  Then there are days, like the last few......when I felt compelled to dig through pics on FB to find ones of me "with hair" to post to my profile.  I had struggled for months to lose weight to look and feel better.  Little did I know that diet saved my life.....we hope.  Anyway...while scrolling through pics....I found a couple from our cruise this past spring break, in which I was wearing one of those sassy "breast cancer" t-shirts....with the words..."Don't Stop Believin".....Little did I know, that a couple of weeks later...I'd have to put my words into action.

Which brings me to the funny stuff people DO say......Warning: Im in a smarty-pants kind of mood!  :)  PLEASE know I'm just in a mood.....AND its all in fun......:))  I might just take that show on the road.  These have ALL been said to me....true story!!!  I've been making a list....thought I'd share!

"But you're cancer free, right?"   .......I don't know, am I?  Maybe at the moment.....we'll see.  Geesh.

After posting pics of my bald head.......  "Did you shave your head?"    uh.....duh!

"At least your bosses work with you"........Yep...they do.  When I work....they pay me!  haha
(I have WONDERFUL bosses.....but usually this falls in a "how am I gonna pay my bills?" convo...

"Why'd you have a double if ya only had it in one?"    Um.....didn't wanna be lopsided?   duh!!

"My grandfather's mother's sister's cousin's daughter" had that red devil stuff.  I know what you're going through!"    Ok....that makes you an expert!   hahaha

"Ive read that such-n-such in your diet will keep cancer at bay!"     Well, you should definately eat some then!  I think I'll stick to ANY thing that doesn't make me puke right now.

"My aunt died a year ago with that same kind of cancer....."    Gee, thanks.

Lady at Gordmans....."Oh you really have cancer?  I'll give you 20% off!"  
Me......"Can my friend who took me to chemo get the discount too???"    bwahahahaha.....she did!!

"I feel awful today too....my allergies are KILLING me this year."    Ok...you win!   hehehe

"Everything happens for a reason."   Ok.....and my REASON for getting cancer is???   I wanna punch you in the nose right now.   :)

"I'm so impressed by your courage!"   Actually, be impressed that I'm really good at hiding how scared "shitless" (sorry!) I am!  

"Its just a bump in the road"    Ok....three surgeries in 10 days....one of which took BOTH my breasts, and insurance company that won't pay, 8 rounds of extremely agressive chemo, feeling crappy every day, being a single mom without a steady paycheck.....is NOT a bump in the road.  It's kind of a mountain.

"Is your cancer the bad kind?"   Um....is there a good kind?   hahahaha.....If I'm still here in 10 years, I'll let ya know!  :)

"I'd come visit you....but my stumped my big toe....Might get ya sick".... Ok. Whatever.  You don't wanna visit.  No excuses needed!  :)

"Just think!  You'll get new boobs!"   I liked my old ones just fine. .....

From an employee at work who speaks little English.... "Is Terri ok now that she cut her boobies off?  Is she gonna die?"    I couldn't hold back my laughter as I responded....."not today!" 

Ok....I'll stop now before I TOTALLY tick off anyone who has ever talked to me!  :)  I'm just joking.  I have the most precious friends in the world.  I wouldn't trade my support system for ANY on the planet.  I rely on humor to get me through lots of moments.  I thank the Lord everyday for those He has placed in my life.  God is good!

Please don't forget -- Save the Date for Team Terri! :) Go ahead! Sign up! :)

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future." Proverbs 31:25

In Him,

Friday, July 20, 2012

Steady my Heart.....

Hi Friends!  What a week.  Round 3 down!  Yay!  I've only gotta get the devil...."the red devil" that is..... in me one more time!!!!  That alone has done wonders for my spirits.  I've heard this a million times in my life, and even said it a few....but "this is a marathon, not a sprint".....however, I cherish the small victories along the way. 

I feel the need for a special "caviat" for my blogs.  Chemo Brain.  Google it.  It's real.  Short term memory loss.  And its driving me crazy.  I find myself writing absolutely EVERYTHING down to keep from forgetting.  I honestly can't remember anything anymore.  SO...that said, if I repeat something I've said in previous posts.  I am sorry.  I usually don't go back and read them...I just write.  You get what's on my mind today.  At this moment.  It is what it is.  :)

To catch my OWN self up....here we go.  Had my chemo last Friday 7/13.  My counts were not only "high enough" they were higher than NORMAL!  8-point-something (It was a week ago and I'm too lazy to go pull my lab report....See?  chemo brain).  Still.....It only has to be 1.9 to take a treatment.  And remember Monday 7/9/2012, they were 0.06.  After Round 1, during same time frame -- they went from 0.50 at their lowest to 4.something.  Which was awesome.  But 8????  Ok, I'll give the Neupogen shots a little bit of credit.  But for counts so low, I was placed on an antibiotic, not to mention I felt like "dog poo on a shoe".....to climb that high, I'm gonna give thanks where due.  To our Lord!!  See what prayer can do??????  Not only was I "able to take treatment"....I was a "ROCK STAR!" ....insert cheesy little dance here! :)

Anyway, third treatment went as expected.  Felt horr...i...ble.  In bed...again...for approximately 5 days.  This time...I just gave into it.  Took meds.  Slept.  Tweaked the meds for side effects that I had planned to.  I didn't fight it.  I just let it run its course....and here we are.  Thursday evening....feeling pretty darn close to normal.  :)  God is good....all the time.  And all the time....God is good!

My Sydney was at her first year of Dance Camp this week at UCA as a member of the BJH Dance Team.  I am so extremely proud of her.  Its brutal on those girls!  I was able to make the trip, yesterday and today to watch her perform.  Thanks to my sweet friends, Lucretia and Kim for letting us ride to Conway.  I so enjoyed our visits.  I was still feeling crummy....and know I wasn't much company....But pushed through and was happy for my time with them....and to see my babygirl!  Syd received all "blue" ribbons on her individual evaluations, and the whole team represented their school as the class acts that they are.  They performed beautifully and brought home lotsa awards!

I can't believe my baby is old enough for all of this!  I am so cherishing every moment!  :) 

Tonight, I'm reminded of my sweet mother.  Tomorrow mark's the 11th anniversary of her getting her "Angel Wings".  Gosh.  11 years.  I miss her so much...and remember that day as vividly as it was yesterday.  Usually, every year on this day, of course, I am heavy-hearted, weepy, and even angry that Jay and I, and our children, were robbed of such a wonderful person.  I've questioned God over and over AND over.  I feel differently this year.  I have learned a lot about my mother in the past few months, and how she must have felt during her fight. Not only that, but how her life really was, underneath the shelter she provided to hide it from us. 

I know now, not to question His plan.  It is flawless.  I believe He saved her from her struggles here on earth.  As I go through some of the same medical struggles....the cancer, the chemo....and all that entails...I have better understanding of what she experienced in that respect.  But much deeper.  My mother deserved heaven.  My mother deserved to be in a place of "no sorrow....no tears."  She touched countless while she was here.  She taught my brother and I everything she knew.  Her work here was physically done.   And it will go on in those she loved.....forever.

The children and I continually see blessings each day throughout this struggle.  For we know His plan for us isn't flawless either.  This says it all.....

"Steady My Heart"
Wish it could be easy
Why is life so messy
Why is pain a part of us
There are days I feel like
Nothing ever goes right
Sometimes it just hurts so much

But You're here
You're real
I know I can trust You

Even when it hurts
Even when it's hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart [x2]

I'm not gonna worry
I know that You got me
Right inside the palm of your hand
Each and every moment
What's good and what gets broken
Happens just the way that You plan

And I will run to You
You're my refuge in Your arms
And I will sing to You
Cause of everything You are

You steady my heart [x2]

Please don't forget -- Save the Date for Team Terri!  :)  Go ahead!  Sign up!  :)

In loving memory....of my mother always.
In Him,

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Quickie Doc update....

Monday...."Fun" day.....:(
Today was jam-packed full of all KINDS of things.  I'm usually pretty good at holding it all together but today, I was an emotional roller-coaster to say the least.  But as always....God revealed many blessings....so for THAT I am grateful.

Woke up feeling pretty crummy at first.  I usually wait a couple of hours before rendering a "verdict" on exactly how I feel on any particular day.  Mornings are usually a slow start for me....before the whole cancer thing.....and its certainly no different now.  I knew pretty quick that it wasn't really going to pass.  In the back of my mind, I kept thinking...."Dang it!  It's Monday and I get another treatment in 4 days!  This is getting into my "feel ok" week!"  So my spirits took a big hit today.  After posting a status asking for prayers.....I did begin to feel somewhat better.  And no, I know that is not coincidence.  I am well aware that prayer is the best medicine!  :)

However, that "free will" thing that we are born with, probably fueled by Satan a tad, kept me sinking into this "woe is me" attitude that really took over my day.  Ended the day with a good ole cry.....and usually "medicated me" can't find tears.  So there you have it!  I'm just a bawl bag today! :(

I worked a full day....Yay!  And picked up Syd and headed to the Doc.  I was to have labs, meet with Sally, Dr. Sneed's Nurse Practioner, and get the first of this round's three Neupogen injections.  My Sydney was precious today.  She has sensed that "momma has been down"....as much as I try to shield this from them.  At the very least, they read my blogs, so they know.  When I picked her up, she had perfomed the few chores I'd left to her to her "Sydney Clare" perfection, and even added a few extra's without being asked.  Took a big load off of ole mom.  I'm pretty OCD about a clean house, and can pretty much say I've not really lifted a finger....in a long time.  The kiddos and David are picking up so much of the slack for me.  So very grateful.

Anyway, we drove into Little Rock, having a little momma-Syd time.  Arrived at the Doc, and she loves watching me get shots.  Weird kid.  Until I HAD kids, I couldn't even have blood taken without fainting.  I'm a little tougher now....but needles aren't my favorite thing.  She watched the tech draw my blood and asked all kinds of questions....I found it humerous.  lol  And we waited to see Sally.

This would be my first time to see her rather than Dr. Sneed himself.  I must say, she was a blessing for me today.  Throughout all of this (with the exception of Dr. Harrison's ofc that very first day!) I've not shed one tear in front of a medical professional.  I'm not a hero....Celexa will do that for ya!  haha, but also, I usually am prepared and have my "this is business let's get it done" frame of mind at the doc.  But today, I was a bit broken.  I've felt so weak and almost like I really HAVE flunked the "Chemo Test" this week.  Trying to maintain a normal life through this is like trying to ride a bike up the toughest hill with the wind blowing straight against you as hard as you can possibly imagine it. 

Sally reminded me that it doesn't GET much worse than the chemo I'm getting.  And I'm getting these treatments closer together than most patients.  Doing as well as I am means I AM tough.  She looked past me and right at my Sydney.  And she told her how proud she should be of her mom.  That I am getting this horrible medicine in my body in such a way that few are even prescribed.  And I'm surviving it.  And I do have those stolen moments when I'm even thriving.  My NEUT% today was 0.06%.  Notice it was point.ZERO.six.  Meaning that I basically have no white blood cells.  And my blood pressure was low.  That alone would make fatigue a factor. 

While I'm sure that precious Sally is born to give these "pep talks,"  I SOOOO needed to hear that what I'm feeling isn't me being week.  It's me being "strong."  She let me cry, provided me tissues, even shed a few with me.....and shot me straight.  I've got two more of the "red devil."  I'm half-way finished with the worst four of the eight.  Most likely, the next two won't get better.  Accumulating these treatments, means most likely they will probabably be a little worse.  So I'm wrapping my head around that.  The final four treatments will be "Taxol" or  "Taxotere" and should not hit me as hard.  Ok....so let's get through these two.  Let's do this.  They placed me on a preventive antibiotic since my counts were so low and also a "miracle" wash for my mouth sores. 

I got hugs from my favorite peeps there, got my shot -- another fun moment for Syd...ha!, got my appointments for the next week or so and headed on out.  Sydney again, just quietly listened as I talked to her about my fears.  How I'm bummed that she will be in Conway next week.....her first year of School Dance team camp....and I most likely will not be able to make the trips to see her dance.  I pray every day that at the very least by Thursday I can make it for the final day.  Of course, she understands.  But this is a big week for her.  Not a "feel good mommy moment" at all.

We headed on to the ball field to watch my Sam.  Broken record time....I SOOOOO love my baseball family.  There isn't a single soul that I couldn't call and they would be there for me in a split second.  And every one of them are hurting right along with me with genuine concern.  Sometimes, I can feel "alone" in a crowded room.  And that's kinda where my spirit had been most of today.  Immediately, when I climbed to the top and sat by my "girls"....I felt at peace.  I don't know if they individually know what each and everyone of them mean to me.  Gosh...I get choked up thinking where we would be without them.  Friendships that have withstood the test of time, victories, disappointments, changes, and never....EVER....an ounce of drama.  Of course, I feel that way about others.  But these folks are special.  That's rare.  They are like family to me.....and they continue to help me in ways they don't even know.

Enjoyed my visits with them all....was happy to have my "little sister" Stacey there, to tell me all about her summer.  She is an active Chi-O at ASU and the big sister of Sam's friend and teammate.  Her mom was an Alpha Gam.  Sorry Susan, had to throw that in.  hehe  We, as a sisterhood are so blessed with Stacey.  Also, happy to visit with sweet Misti.....she popped in to watch our boys.

Lightening and rain cut the game short so we headed to the pharmacy an on home.  Due to it being after 9, I cooked grilled cheese sandwiches for the kiddos.....Sam ate SIX!  Lordy.  Anyway, headed on to bath & bed for my "good cry."  As I was about to hit "lights out," I was scrolling through Instagram and a friend had posted this......

Did that ever slap me right BETWEEN the eyes?  Upside the head? Trip me up?   Geesh.  I've wallowed all day.  Crying like a big ole baby.  And all the while, forgetting that I just need to give it to Him.  So that my friends, will be my attitude tomorrow.  Doesn't mean I'll feel good.  Or can do all I want to do.  But it means I'll be able to beat this....and be all HE wants me to be.  The rest is all just relative....right?

I'm going to end tonight's post like I plan to end each one for the next 3 months.  Save the date!  Race for the Cure in Little Rock:  Hooties for Hooters:  Team Terri, in memory of my mother, Patsy Cox.  We are doing the 5k walk.  And if I can do it.....anyone can!  I consider is a personal favor to anyone who will join in this cause.  I guarantee you will get much more out of it than I will.  By October 20, I will have been done with treatments exactly 1 month.  And I want EVERYONE I know to be there with me to celebrate.  As my friend Jana, who got this ball rolling says...."Let Little Rock know we are here!"  C'mon guys....sign up....don't disappoint me!  :)

Here is the link!  :)  Its also on my FB wall!  :)

I know my mom and countless others are SMILIN down from heaven!  :)

"Fear can keep us up all night long....but FAITH makes one fine pillow!"   Nite, friends!  :)

In Him,

Monday, July 9, 2012

Momma Has Cancer....:)

Notice the name change on my blog.  My God and I still are teaming up to earn my "Pink".  But a more realistic name for my journey....is "Momma Has Cancer...."   I am a mom.  A mom to two of the most precious souls on the planet.  And these kiddos are my strength and my reason to fight each day. 

They never complain.  They pile up in bed with me....because that's where I am the majority of the time these days.  They, too, treasure the moments of "normality" when I can steal a few moments to feel good enough for a lunch date or outing of any kind.  They still smile.  Still come to me for hugs.  Still keep their rooms a complete mess....forcing me to "holla".....:)  Love the normality and hope they bring to my every single day....without fail.  I've said it before.....but they have this "cancer" too.  They are also going through chemo with me.....Something I've watched my own mother go through.  I know it's not easy on them.  When I think about giving up.....and I have those moments from time to time....I just look at them.  They are so worth the fight. 

As much as I hate to go there, I must....Side effects are much worse this time.  This is a complete honest listing.....so if you don't really want the blow by blow....might wanna skip a few lines! :)  Nausea, Fever, Constipation to the point I'm bleeding, Fatigue, and Mouth sores.  The heat is killing me.  No headache this time....but the Aleve I was taking as a preventative during the day.....now hurts my tummy.  Doc had indicated that the Zofran to prevent nausea that I had taken during the first round religiously, can cause headaches.  So I've backed off of it this time.  And I've had more nausea.  One drug helps one thing....and seems to cause another issue.  During round 1, My "feel good day" was Saturday.  Day 7.  Still waiting Round 2's day to present itself. :(

Smells are starting to affect me. Not necessarily "food" smells.....but good smells. I've had to turn off the scentsy's.....find scent-free lip balm and lotions and bath soaps. Takes me back to my pregnancy days. When I was carrying Sam, is about the time that Victoria Secret put out its cucumber melon lotions, sprays, etc. I had so loved it. But after morning sickness, the cucumber melon smell to this day turns my stomach, 15 years later. Weird.

We are on day 8, last night was a rough night.  I woke up bound and determined to make it to Sunday School and Church.  My spirit is in need of as much healing as my body.  First, I wore the darn wig.  Just not me.  Hated it the whole time.  Of course, was met with many loving hugs, and friendly words, but inside I couldn't wait to get home and rip the thing off.  I remember sitting in SS and praying more than once that I wouldn't have to interupt by leaving in the middle.  Just didn't feel well.  Prayers worked....I made it through class and service and even had lunch with friends and kiddos.  I have about a "1 day window" when I can stomach Mexican food.....so we took it.  Reluctantly, but I took it.

Came home and found myself back in my bed where I am at the moment.  Funny, I used to love my bed.  I'm here so much feeling rotten, that its no longer a source of comfort anymore.  My spirit is breaking....because I'm only a quarter of the way through this nightmare.  I can't even allow myself to think about the strong possibility that it may not stop there.  What if I am battling this the rest of my life?  I've come to truly understand why some patients elect to stop treatment.  This isn't living.  This is merely a painful existance.  I know Satan is pulling and tugging at me trying to shake my faith.  I would be lying if I said that he isn't at times successful.  There are moments I find myself in tears just ready to give up....give in to this monster.  I've seen my own mother fight this for 5 years......and not survive it.  What is the world makes me think I will be any different?  Nobody can answer that.  There isn't a good answer.

I've rationalized many answers:  1) treatments have come a long way in 11 or so years.....ok.  Sure they have.  2)  My cancer is a different kind.....yep.  But not different "better"....but different "worse"....Mine is triple negative.  Can't be prevented, only killed.  3)  I'm a young (relativley speaking I guess!  :)) mother whose children need me......Of course they need me!  But my brother and I had the glue to our family ripped from us.  And our children were deprived from the most loving grandmother this world would have known.  So what can be said to that??  I have others, but will stop there.  Ya get the idea.  God hasn't revealed any answers yet.  Just His presence.  That is where I'm finding comfort.

I know that facing what could be a "terminal" illness has strengthened my faith.  But it continues to reach my weaknesses also.  I wouldn't be writing a blog from a place of honesty, if I didn't really "tell it like it is".  I'm scared to death.  I'm trying hard to focus on one day at a time.  Each day, I make myself list mentally the blessings of the day.  If I allow myself to think of this as a"long term" battle, which it is.....it drives me crazy.  But if I have to endure Breast Cancer....et.al, seriously enduring all that it entails.....the worry, the chemo, the side effects, the surgeries, the life alterations, the financial woes, the relationship changes.....all of it.  If I have to endure that to find peace in my faith.  To recognize my weaknesses and turn them around to help others.  To inspire even one person to be curious about Jesus.  I'd honestly do it all again.  I still fall short daily.  But as Pastor Rick fed me today....that "God's will" isn't that I got cancer.  He doesn't "will us" to endure pain.  But His will for us is to turn to Him in times of struggle.   To have an un-ending faith and trust in Him that nothing can break.

The Lord is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in Him, 
Nahum 1:7

I look at my kids.  They are stronger than I ever could be.  They are the epitome of strength and courage.  It can't be easy on them to watch their otherwise active mom, down for days on end.  But in their eyes I find the hope.  I realize my Sam and Sydney Clare are blessings straight from God, hand-picked to be my children, faithful Christ-followers, who never doubt for a second that "Momma's gonna be ok."  They are my best friends.  My everything.  I've been a wife, daughter, sister, friend, and Christian.  I've also been a sinner.  I've fallen short of Christ's plans for me many times throughout my life.  Through His grace, I've found salvation and forgiveness.  In my heart, I also know, that through God and His love for me, I will also be a Survivor.  Still.....my most treasured of these all....is that I'm a mom.  I am Sam's mom.  I am Sydney Clare's mom.  Blessed.

In Him,

Friday, July 6, 2012

2nd round and down.....:)

2 down my friends....and only 6 more to go!  This one has been a doosey.....(is that even a word???  Sorry to my fellow grammatical gurus....) but quite a bit to report.

Hair is gone...
I am now bald, my friends. When I was first diagnosed, remember I went to the New Outlook Center at St. Vincent's and sweet Alicia informed me..."You will lose your hair....two weeks from your first treatment.  Mark my words!".  Love those that don't sugar-coat and just tell it like it is!  And she was pretty much dead on!  Last Wednesday, I started "shedding" for lack of better words.  David was working out of town last week and I told him the minute he got home that we were heading outside with his trimmers.  By Thursday, it was coming out in "clumps"....and driving me crazy. When I got home that afternoon, and took one look at him, I KNEW he couldn't do it.  Lordy.  Tears streaming down HIS face.  I might lose an ear or something.....:)  God love him. 

My Leah lives all the way in Dallas and wasn't due in for another couple of weeks ....so what to do?? David and Sam always go to the local "Great Clips" to get their hair cut and they have a favorite girl, "Lyndsey" who we found out just a short time ago is the daughter of our dear friend, Jon.  Small world.....all this time she has cut their hair, we had no idea.  Anyway, I immediately texted Jon to see if maybe she was working.  She was....and we headed up there.

Jon had given her a "heads up" that we were coming and she was simply precious.  Led us to a chair in the back.  She tried to hide her emotion and was so sweet as we went through this.  I had already melted down...just a little....a day or two before.  Another dose of reality set in.  David sat in a chair and fought back tears himself.  Her kindness and gentleness will never be forgotten.  David, who is about as picky with his own hair, decided to shave his head as well....God placed this sweet girl here....this day....and her connection to us was no "coincidence".  No doubt in my mind.  I will never forget that day....and her part in making it much easier on the both of us.  Here is a pic of us.....I didn't ask her for permission.....so I may have to ask for her forgiveness.  I just want to document what a precious thing she did for us this difficult day......

I left there that afternoon with a feeling of "relief".....Call me "vain", but since I first heard the word cancer....I imagined myself bald.  I knew it was coming, but you can never really prepare yourself for the way you look to the outside world.  I now look sick.  I'm getting that "gray" chemo look, zero tan, of course, bald, and dark circles under my eyes.  Made me think alot about outward beauty.  I've never been pretty by the "world's standards"......at all.  But I've been a little "high maintenance" to try to look and feel my best.  Before all this, I had just come off of a 6 month diet in which I'd dropped 41 lbs.  I worked hard at it....and was starting to feel much better about myself. 

In the whole scheme of things....who cares, darn it?  Beauty truly is from within.  I don't like looking in the mirror anymore.  The idea of a wig makes me cringe.  Its not me.  Me?  is bald.  Is gray. Looks like a "cancer patient."  Do I feel pretty?  No.  But in exchange....I feel blessed.  I know this is only temporary.  And focusing on my outward "looks" is only Satan's way of taking my focus away from the fight.  My hair will grow back.  My "boobies" can be reconstructed.  In the meantime, I can't let chemo take away a smile.  Or inner beauty.  That is my focus.....to work on being more beautiful....inside. 

Treatment #2:
My sweet Shane arrived all the way from Searcy to be my "chemo buddy" last Friday.  Drove to Benton to pick me up and drive me back to Little Rock for my treatment.  Chemo is pretty uneventful.  Just get hooked up to the "stuff" for a couple of hours while ya sit and wait.  This gave us time for a great visit and of course, many laughs as always.  I just love Shane.  She is a busy single mom of three, works two jobs and goes to school.  Our busy lives don't allow for many visits....but somehow, when we have a few stolen moments to talk.....she gives me more strength than I can describe.  A fellow "sister in Christ"....she is continually a source of strength for me.  I am so blessed to have a friend in her.  I only hope I can be to others....and to her in return.... what she is for me.

They say that laughter is the best medicine.  And we definately shared many of those, as always.  Sonya popped in for an impromptu visit at chemo.....bearing gifts....chocolate!  :)  I just love her.  Sonya always wears a smile.  No matter what is going on that day or inside of her....she smiles.  I can feel her love.  Those friends are rare and special  So blessed for these girls!  We had our little chemo party......which always prompts a photo op....

Shane, Sonya, Josh and Me!  :)

Me and my sweet Shane:)

My "Rock Star" Chemo nurses....Carolyn and Linda!  :)

I have been blessed with the best care ever.  Not only are they "doing their job"....they truly care about me as a person.  And they let me and my silly friends take over the chemo room every other Friday!  :)  These ladies are truly a blessing to me.  I can't imagine going through this nightmare without them. 

Magic Mike:
I was bound and determined to squeeze every single minute of "feel good" that I had left until the chemo set in.  A big group of girlfriends met at the opening night of "Magic Mike".....Lordy....what fun and laughter!  :)

Saturday morning, Deb and I set out to Little Rock with her sweet Ashlyn, to just goof off and hunt for some scarves to accessorize my "new look".....mainly wanted to just have a girly day.  She picked me up dawning her "blinged doo-rag"......in honor of my "new do".....:)

What a friend!  We had the best day!  Big ole yummy Cracker Barrell breakfast...and we hit the stores.  It didn't take me long to figure out that scarves really weren't a good look for me either....sigh.  I'm not 80.  Scarves make me feel 80.  So...cute caps, big earrings it is.  As always, we shared laughter, a couple of tears, and several "Deb pep talks".....I honestly don't know where I'd be without her friendship.  She is truly like a sister to me in so many ways.  A genuine caring person.....I know now why God called her into nursing.....her compassion is flawless.  But I also know that he hand-picked her to hold my hand through this struggle.  Every step of the way.  What a blessing.  Gosh, what a blessing.  And to her sweet family for sharing her with me....day and night. 

About 3 that Saturday, I began to sink.  Pretty much stayed in bed until Wednesday.  This one was worse.  Much worse.  My boss....who is a Godly man I call a friend....said it best to me today...."The sooner you wrap your head around the fact that each treatment will most likely be worse on you....the better emotionally you will be to fight this."  How true.  This poison is killing my body.  Only I can control my spirit.  His words changed my focus.  I was down.  Down that I was simply unable to work.  Its Thursday, and I have a total of 5 hours on this check.  The blessing is that my job is secure.  And this too....shall pass.  God has continued to show His presence in our lives.....and met our needs.  So I'm choosing to continue to trust in Him.

More ballgames missed, more dependence on others to cart my kiddos around.  More kicks to the spirit of being a mom that I miss so much.  My Syd was a Junior Counselor at Family Farm this week.  God bless Leigh for getting Syd to and from the bus each day.  Family Farm is a Christian day camp that is an "outdoorsy" camp....horseback riding, canoing, fishing, paddle boats, ziplines.  I found it so wonderful that her stories each day were centered around "Christ" things.....rather than stories of just "fun in the sun."  I believe she said that 11 or 12 children were saved this week.  So grateful that my babygirl gets the opportunity to be a part of such wonderment.  God is so good.  Those moments get me through these days of "being in the bed."

Independence Day!:
Wednesday was the "4th".....we were invited to the Hathcotes.....one of the most precious families on earth!  This is a tradition of sorts.  In fact, I can't remember a 4th in recent years, when they didn't invite us to join their huge family....(and I mean HUGE....9 kids and spouses....and expecting their 20th grandchild!!) ....for pool fun, food, family, and usually fireworks.  The burn ban dampered the fireworks, but certainly not the spirit of the day.  I honestly worried all day that I wouldn't feel up to it.  It was so hot out, and I just felt terrible.  They were grilling about 5:00 and I climbed out of bed at 4:30 for the first time since Sat.  I washed my face....threw on a cap  (Hey!  silver lining....I can literally be ready in 10 mins!  hehe) and off we went.  My kids and David were excited to go and I was determined.

Kyle & Kim's beautiful shaded backyard pool is about 20 degrees cooler than the rest of the world.  I got to visit with such precious people, love on babies, eat some "good ole Hathcote grub" (including Grandma's potato salad that is the best I've ever had....every year!!), and stick my feet in the pool!  So glad I went.  So honored to be included with their family each year.  Truly precious people and friends.  And this year was no different.  Such a loving family.....that we are blessed to call dear friends.

The texts, phone calls, visits from "climb in the bed with me" girlfriends, Lordy...the food!, cards, gifts, and emails.  Again, each one perfectly placed at a time when I needed to be fed a dose of strength.  With so much wrong in this world.....I've been reminded of so much "good" among us.  The sweetest of "new friends"....the comfort of my "closest" circle of friends....the blessings of "old friends".....I just can't describe.  God is placing people to meet even the smallest of needs.....Can you believe that after blogging that I was waiting until payday to mail thank you notes....sweet Becky....a friend from high school....sends me postage stamps.  How clever!  :)  Even the smallest of needs....continue to be met.  Praise HIM from whom all blessings....even the greatest of friends.....flow.

Tonight....my sweet Marsha came to visit.  Without detail....I will just say that she thinks of needs that others may not.  And meets them.  She not only loves me.  But she loves my children as she would her own.  And for that....I'll love her forever.

Save the Date!:
My dear friend and Chi-O sister, Jana, is spear-heading a "Team Terri" for this year's Race for the Cure in October.  Tshirts and all....kinda "official-like."   I am truly honored, and hopes to have all my wonderful friends join me for this wonderful thing.  What Jana or a few others don't know, is that since my mom passed away 11 years ago, I've been unable to actually go to the race.  While I make my donation as a "virtual runner".....its just too hard to go and be there knowing this monster took my mom from me.  She lived for the race every year and she was SO proud to wear her "survivor pink".  So this year.....I am earning that darn pink.....and I want my "Team Terri" to walk for HER!  If all goes as scheduled, my last treatment will be Sept 21.  The race is Oct 20.  What a celebration!!!  And what a party!  :)  I'd be truly honored for anyone who wants to walk with us to please let me know.  :) 

I know I've left out so many blessings if I were to list them all.  In all honesty, I thrive on them.  I am hurting.  I'm hurting for some people in my life who are hurting.  Friends who have been betrayed.  Friends who have suffered without need.  Relationships that are changing.....even ending.  Hearts are breaking.  Please pray for my friends.  For they deserve the very best in this world for what they give to others.  I hate it that I'm not in the position to just "fix it".....just like they hate it that they can't "fix me."  But what friends do....is love you through it.  And pray without ceasing.  If there is anything worse than cancer.....its a broken heart.  Please pray with me that these broken hearts are led to Jesus and that they trust in HIS plans for them.  Pray that they know without a doubt how much I love them and hurt with them.  And pray that I have the right words even in my darkest days ahead.

I am posting a video of one of my dearest "friendship" songs that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I love it....and still rings true for each and every one of my "friends" today.  I love you......and here's to you!  :)

Friends are friends forever...if the Lord's the Lord of them.  A lifetime's not too long....to live as friends.  :)

In Him,