Friday, January 30, 2009

So far Sooooo Good!!

Hello dear family and friends,

Today was a very special day for me. I woke up feeling great! I have always thought things like pantyhose and mascara were plagues of female existence but I can honestly say it was a privilege that I still had eyelashes on which to put that yucky old mascara this morning. Best of all I made it back to my Funtastic Friday homeschool coop for the first time in two weeks. Yippeeee!!!! Words cannot express how much seeing those smiling faces, receiving those encouraging words and getting 50+ hugs there meant to me. Some of you may not know that I teach a literature class there on CS Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia books. I have always wanted to write a children's book as powerful as his (and since I never arrived at that place) I decided last fall I would teach about the children's books that I love as a ministry instead. What I have learned is that teaching these books to these students has become a ministry to ME. I had expected some students to drop out of my classes once I disclosed my cancer diagnosis. I arrived yesterday with full classes and, as a result, a very full heart. Imagine having children, students in your class telling you they are praying for you and that they've told everyone they know to pray for you. What could be a more powerful blessing than that.

Right now I am on 4 medications a day to control the nausea. I also went to get a shot this afternoon at the cancer center for nausea. So far it seems to be working. On top of that I am gargling a concoction of water, baking soda and salt 3 times a day to prevent mouth sores (another of the chemo side effects).

Before I sign off I wanted to share with you two more "coincidences" I have experienced. One was funny, one AMAZING and both happened last Friday morning when I was about to go in and get those scary PET scan results.

Here's the funny one. Some of you know we have two toy collies Stradivarius and Mandolyn (Mandy). Randy plays and makes violins and we are hoping in a couple of years (BUT NOT NOW) to have a whole orchestra pit full of puppies. Well THAT FRIDAY MORNING Mandy went into her first heat. Rather than spend that morning dwelling on what those PET scan results might be we were scrambling to get her situated into her "confinement." This distraction ended up being such a blessed distraction. Can God work blessings through a dog? I'd say in this situation Mandy's little surprise was heaven sent.

The second "coincidence" of that morning was an email I received from a science teacher of my daughter Laura's. She was just sending a routine email about her class. I had just met this teacher the week prior so I hardly knew her. That morning I had an overwhelming urge to email her and another mom with a child in that class (who had been a spiritual mentor to me in Pep Moms)and ask them both to pray for me. Here's an excerpt from the science teacher's response to my email:

My heart is so heavy for you right now! I understand all of your emotions, confusion, questions... I have walked on the path you are about to embark upon.

I am fighting back tears as I am typing this. My very best friend battled breast cancer for nearly 3 years. I grieve for you because of the journey that the Lord has placed before you. It is a long, hard, narrow road. Yet, the path is filled with unspeakable blessings as you will go to places that you have not yet approached in life. The precious glimpses of God gave me slivers of glory to cling to. I continued to hope, trust, and know that God was and is in control.

My mom had cancer as well. She has been in remission for over 10 years. My husband's mother also had ovarian cancer, and she departed this earth when I was pregnant with our oldest son twelve years ago. Finally, I am too, a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer soon after our youngest was born five years ago. My short-lived battle prepared me to walk the road with my best friend. Cancer is a horrible disease, and yet, I believe the worst "cancer" anyone can have is to not have Jesus. He is the one to provide the HOPE and STRENGTH to face the battle."

Coincidence? I don't think so!!! These are just two of the many AMAZING things I am seeing in this cancer diagnosis. I can't wait to share more with you.

Finally today, please pray for my sister Shannon. She just had a mammogram and there is a questionable spot that they are going to biopsy on her next Wednesday. Her lymph nodes look good (Praise God!) but she's never had a biopsy before and we would all really appreciate the prayers. Thanks for helping me "K.O." the cancer! Lots of love,


Thursday, January 29, 2009

I passed Chemo Class!!!

Hello dear family and friends. I got up this morning, put on my GOD IS SO MUCH BIGGER THAN CANCER shirt, a matching pink jacket, a marquesite cross, pink shoes and my "bag of optomism" given to me by friends. You homeschool coop friends who like to kid me about dressing up would have agreed that I was a pink "Fashionista" for chemo class this morning. You would have laughed at us as we hurried to the hospital to start chemo. Randy does not like to be late to ANYTHING and traffic was horrible. He said "What if we miss the first 15 minutes about something important like what to do if the chemo makes your leg falls off..." Then he said maybe we'll get lucky and they will be on "Pep Moms time." This made us both laugh (I say this with love but you Pep Moms out there know EXACTLY what I mean);)
I was actually a little disappointed in chemo class. I thought sure there would be lots of students there and I would be the teacher's pet by the end of it. The class was actually just a video shown to me and Randy going over all the various side effects of the medications. I caught Randy a couple of times trying to copy down my notes and I told him if there was a test afterwards, I was sure I'd get the better grade and he better not cheat. Fortunately there was no test and we passed chemo class with flying colors! (Easiest A I ever got)!

The chemo room itself was large with about 25 recylining chairs lining the walls of the room and IV bags dangling from the ceiling. Cancer does not discriminate. There were people there from all races and walks of life. At first I thought I was the youngest one there but then I looked over and saw a woman who I'd say was in her twenties. I believe her dad was sitting next to her. I had several people ask about my shirt. It was a big hit!!! I could see several people would read it and then just look up at me and smile. I gave the blog address to a hospital receptionist, social worker and volunteer to share with others. I sat down and began reading my copy of Cancer Vixen, got all hooked up and stayed for 3 hours to get the medication. They gave me a boxed lunch and there were individual tvs you could watch as you waited. I was about to leave when I met another breast cancer patient. She was holding her own copy of cancer vixen which we both laughed about. She said she'd been divorced and learned of her diagnosis in the same week. My heart really went out to her. But there was an immediate sisterhood. We traded emails and were both excited to learn that we'll have treatments on the same days from now on.
I want to tell you all what some of the side effects are. Not because I want you to feel sorry for me (because I don't). I just think it is important for everyone to know when you hear of someone who has cancer what they might be facing. These are just some of the side effects. Not all of these happen, but you go into it not knowing which makes it alittle scary. Here we go:
Hair loss, loss of fingernails and toenails, mouth sores, extreme fatigue, vomitting, nausea, onset of leukemia, onset of early menopause, heart toxicity, bone pain, lowered white/red blood cell count causing the greater likelihood of infection. There is even a condition which damages your tear ducts and can leave you constantly crying until an opthamalogist can put a stint into your eyes. Whew! It is a lot! There are hormone therapies and Her2Nu protein treatments some breast cancer patients can take to shrink their tumors but I was not a candidate for either of these. Chemo is a big decision but I am at peace with it. It is not HOW I will be healed but WHO will heal me that matters. Another obstacle bites the dust, y'all!! Lots of love,

PS Don't I just look Faaaaaabulous!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

T Shirt Ministry

Here's the new logo that we have added for those interested in a t-shirt that is more generalized for cancer.

Many of you read in a previous post from Kerry that she knows God is So Much Bigger than cancer and she wanted a shirt to wear to the cancer center in hopes that others will be inspired to give their worries to God as well. We have found a company who has designed the shirt and will work with us to make this a ministry for others. All the proceeds will automatically be used to buy more shirts to give to other patients that Kerry will meet at the cancer center. This is the original design, but please know that if you have other things in your life this design can be altered (diabetes, heart disease, etc.). I can even have the breast cancer symbol taken out if you have others in your life that are battling cancer and you want it to be an encouragement to all.

The cost of the shirts are $20 for short sleeve or $22 for long sleeve. They are printed on a white shirt. Kerry has asked me to coordinate the ordering process for her. I have added a PayPal button on the right side of the blog. Simply choose if you want the breast cancer logo or the cancer logo and the sleeve length. Click add to cart and it will take you to PayPal. In the Special Instructions box, please include what size you are ordering. If you do not have a PayPal account, you can send an email to me at with your order. You can mail your check to P.O. Box 22451, Knoxville, TN 37933. Once the shirts are ready, I will send out an email and set up a time/place that I can meet everyone or you can let me know if I should give your shirt to Kerry and let her arrange getting it to you if you see her or one of her family members on a regualr basis. I also realized that many of her sweet prayer warriors are from out of town. If you add $2 to your check and include your address with your size information, that will cover the cost of mailing the shirt to you.

Melony Wallace

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sisterhood in Christ

Well we're finally home from the chemo port surgery! I look a little like Frankenstein. There is a tube running out of my neck into my shoulder. It doesn't hurt but feels very strange. I wasn't nervous at all and even managed to nap in the waiting area. This actually surprised even me because (except for having a couple wisdom teeth pulled years ago) I have never had surgery before like this. I even managed to find a new toy to play with there. It was like a reverse vaccuum. You could plug a hose into your hospital gown and it would blow out heat to warm you. My gown blew up like a balloon. It was hilarious but very cozy. I told Randy I want one at our house!

Today went really well but yesterday afternoon was hard. I got reminded again of my mortality. A doctor put my "specs" into a computer and showed all the different scenarios of what would happen if I went through various treatments. BEST case scenario he said that (after a year of all the chemo, surgery and radiation) I have a 70% chance of being alive without cancer in 10 years. Those odds sounds pretty good but when you are young and you've imagined yourself growing old with your husband it is sobering. I didn't even ask what the numbers would be for 20 years because I didn't want to know. The doctor said they would never look at me like a "typical" 37 year old again. This hit me hard. I know though that I am not "typical" and God has a plan for me. My life might be different that I always imagined it. It might even be shorter than I always imagined it but I am in HIS PLAN and I am not a statistic.

God sure knew what He was doing when he gave me my sisters. He knew what He was doing when he gave me my parents, and blessed me with Randy and the girls, my inlaws, my friends. I have begun to see that every person in my life was put there for a reason. There is a sisterhood and brotherhood in Christ that is SO STRONG and POWERFUL. I felt it when my church community group rallied around me on Sunday. I felt it when I went in to get the PET scan results last Friday knowing that my entire homeschool coop was praying for me at that moment. I feel it when I get emails from people who live miles away, the friends of my sisters, the friends of friends or even complete strangers who are praying for me. It is such a blessing.

Last night I got together with about 10 of my Pep Moms friends. Each gave me a verse laid on their hearts and prayed over me. They even took turns feeling my big ol' lymph node (of which I am now quite proud since it kept the cancer from spreading). Two of the moms there were breast cancer survivors and they shared their scars and their stories with us. I believe it is because of all of this (all the prayers, all the love, all the support) that I was not scared when I went into my surgery today. Bless you all for that. One hurdle down y'all!!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My God is so BIG!

Do you remember that song "My God is so big, so strong and so mighty there's nothing my God cannot do.." Leslie's class sang it in a preschool performance at Wallace Memorial a couple years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. I guess the grown up version would be "How Great is Our God." We sang it today at Corryton Church and it brought me to tears because this time it was so very REAL to me. You see this morning I woke up with a phrase burning in my brain, "The God we serve is SO MUCH BIGGER than cancer." This was from an email a dear friend of mine sent last week. Sure I've always known how big, how great God is intellectually but this week I had LIVED it. I'd lived it in all the "coincidences" I've experienced that I know now without a doubt were NOT "coincidences" but God intervening in my life.

Let me give you an example. I'm not too proud to admit that last Wednesday morning I had a panic attack. I was waiting for my bone scan results to come in. This test would show if the cancer had spread into my bones. I was short of breath, shaking uncontrollably, weak in the knees and had a claustrophobic feeling, like everything was closing in around me. Randy had been running an errand and happened to call in to check on me. I told him I needed him and he was rushing home. In the midst of all this I reached for my Bible. I just opened it at random. I didn't know what else to do. My Bible opened to Psalms 18. Here's how it starts: "I love you O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my deliverer; My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold...the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice."

That was the end of that panic attack for sure! And believe me there were more, many of which were stopped by a phone call at just the right moment, an email with just the right verse or words of encouragement from family and friends. I've decided when I start my chemo treatments on Thursday, I want to wear a Tshirt that says "God is SO MUCH BIGGER than cancer." (So I guess I'd better go get busy starting one). I will share more of these "coincidences" with you over the next couple of weeks. Laura and Leslie are traveling with my sister Mitzi this week. Please pray for their safety. Lots of love,

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Finding Normal

I had the best sleep last night that I have had in two weeks. Today we are trying to get our family back to "normal." The last few days Laura has had her face plastered to her Nintendo DS and it was worrying me. I believe it had become her coping mechanism. Yesterday afternoon she actually played outside. Today she is complaining about what I've picked out for her to wear and she and Leslie are bickering. For once it is actually music to my ears.

Randy and I are beginning to be a little nervous about the chemo port surgery on Tuesday next week. The lymph nodes have gotten so big they are pressing on one of my nerves and I cannot feel the back of my arm.

Randy read last week in one of the cancer books that emotion during a hardship is like a wave and I have definately found that to be true. One minute I could smile. The next I was shaking or crying uncontrollably. My sister Mitzi passed on some advice to me from a dear friend of hers who has battled brain cancer. It is a list of stages you will go through each day when coping with a hardship. These helped me a great deal last week. I know I will be referring to this list alot next year and I wanted to share it. Here it is. Every day:
1. Be thankful for what you have
2. Grieve for what you have lost
3. Do practical things
4. Find your new "normal"

I feel like today my family is embarking on our journey to "find our new normal." Every night now before bed Randy and I are holding hands and praying together, something we did not do before. I can see that in spite of all this, we are stronger and being blessed as a family. Please continue to pray for us. Lots of love,

Friday, January 23, 2009

Praise God!!!! GoodNews!!!!

My dear friends, family and prayer warriors,
I slept last night and woke up this morning terrified but with "a peace that passeth all understanding." And PRAISE GOD!!! The PET scan results showed no spread of the cancer!!! It is confined to my left breast and lymph nodes!! They cannot stage me exactly but believe I am no worse than a stge 3 A. The cancer is extremely aggressive so they are jumping on it. I am suppose to have a chemo port put into my shoulder next Tuesday and treatments will begin on Thursday. I will have 18 weeks of chemo (in 6 treatments once every 3 weeks), then surgery, then radiation.
Today began as the most TERRIFYING day of my life. I can truly tell you it turned out to be one of the most AMAZING days of my life. After meeting with the doctor I saw a woman in the UT Cancer Center waiting room. She was about 50 years old. A man was sitting next to her, perfectly calm but she had a look of pure terror on her face. Her whole body was shaking so hard I was amazed the purse in her lap did not fall on the floor (just like me an hour before). She looked into my eyes and I felt a powerful voice tell me to go speak to her. I did. I felt led to tell her she would be alright. I didn't know how or why but I knew deep down she would be alright. I held her hand. She smiled and thanked me. I wish now I had the presence of mind then to get her name and her story but I knew the Holy Spirit had told me what needed to be said. I have always considered myself bad at handling very sad or "awkward" situations. I am a relatively shy, reserved person but I tell you now I did not give any of this a second thought. I knew in my heart of hearts I was being guided all the way.
A half hour later Randy and I met my parents and daughters at McDonalds on Cumberland Ave. No sooner did we arrive than a middle aged man came and sat at our table. His name was Tony Dewayne Alexander. He began to tell Randy how he had no home, no job, no family. How he'd broken his back and just now (after years of pain and suffering) was able to walk. He talked alot about Jesus but we could all tell he was broken and burdened. We believe he had been drinking. At first we thought he was looking for some money but he didn't want that. Again I felt led to hold his hand and to pray with him. Praying out loud has never been my strong point but I knew (through the Holy Spirit I believe) exactly what to do and say. We hugged him and promised him that we would keep praying and that God would answer his prayers as He had for me that morning. We told him God had a purpose and plan for him and that we would keep praying. My dad stayed in the Mcdonalds and continued to minister to him for some time afterwards.
I have never had a day like this ever before. Isn't it AMAZING how God can use us in ways and places in which we never expect it!!!

Thank you all for your wonderful prayers, emails, and comments. They have been such a blessing to me and my entire family. My sisters have told me they were moved to tears by them all this morning. Please continue to pray. I know this year will be a hard one. Please pray that God will use me and this experience in a positive way for others. Please pray for Tony Alexander and the woman I met shaking in the cancer center.

Oh, and by the way I am taking a poll on the wig I will need to buy in the next couple of weeks. What do you guys think: blond, brunette, or red head. Let me know! LOTS OF LOVE,

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Test over but no news yet

Hey dear friends & family. The test is over but I have no news yet. The people at the E TN Diagnostic Ctr were super nice. I've been pricked with needles alot this week and am tempted to punch the next person who tries to prick me but I will try to contain myself. They injected me with something radioactive and Randy has been joking that tonight he may turn the lights off and see if I glow. All kidding aside, it is hard not knowing exactly what stage I am in (other than it is at least a 3) and where else in my body this cancer might be. I hope to have results on the scan tomorrow afternoon. The comments & emails are wonderful. They are giving peace in my spirit. I've been told there are people in Alaska praying for me and two school classes who prayed for me this morning (one even in Spanish!) I am truly blessed. Lots of Love,


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

PET Scan Thursday @ Noon

Hey friends- talked to Kerry today and she has a full body PET scan tomorrow at 12. She is obviously very nervous and has asked to be covered in prayer....this test will tell if the cancer has spread. PLEASE pray, pray hard, for Kerry to have peace and that the results will be good. We love you Kerry!

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