Thursday, June 25, 2009

Healing Rain

Hello dear friends and family!

Healing rain is falling down inside (my spirit) and out (my physical scars). I am still recovering well from my surgery. The drain tubes are gone (yeah!) It feels like I have a huge jelly roll under my arms from the swelling, but there is no pain and I am able to get around well. I have been sleeping in the living room recliner for a week and a half to keep myself elevated and reduce pressure on the stitches. Bed? What's that? Needless to say I am looking forward to sleeping in one again soon.

I have a lopsided chest. The left side is flat. They injected fluid for the first time into the expander on the right side Monday, making it expand & beginning the reconstruction. The expander is actually located underneath the chest muscle and stretches both the muscle and the skin which made me sore for a couple of days. For a while there I vowed I was stopping at size AA. Randy hurt his back exercising that night and we were both hobbling around the house like a bent over old couple. Just looking at each other made us laugh but it also hurt! It was funny.

The little things like the soreness and swelling are really just irritating. Laura, Leslie and I are impatient for me to fully recover so we can get out more and enjoy the summer.

It looks like my hair will start coming back soon. I have a little fuzz on my head now, just a few baby hairs. My toes are still numb so I know the chemo has not left my system for good yet. It is on its way out though.

God is so good. Everything we have needed has been supplied and then some. There were so many kind mailings, cards, emails and phone calls the past few weeks. There were a couple of days last week when I seriously wondered how I was going to close the refrigerator door. Thanks to everyone and thanks also for all the prayers.

I also wanted to remind everyone to pray again for Brooke Estrada. She left yesterday for the Avon Walk coming up on June 27-28th. She and others participating with her are raising lots of money for breast cancer research. Please pray for a successful, injury-free event.

Lots of love,


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Eager to be a "Thriver" As Well As a "Survivor"

It has been a week today since my surgery and I continue to recover well. I started out with 5 tubes after surgery and am down to one drainage tube. I am hoping to have that out tomorrow. I got dressed by myself today which was an accomplishment! I also got out of the house for a couple hours with Shannon for lunch and a couple short errands which was a treat.

I have some good news! My pathology report came back and there is NO SIGN OF THE CANCER! It's gone! Caput! Outta here!! Isn't that fantastic?! It boggles my mind how the doctors knew exactly what drug combination to use to so successfully KO the cancer. That these very drugs are out there, the fact that they exist, that they were work together so well shows yet again how miracles in nature always point back to our Omnipotent Creator. Round 2 is won!! Yeah!! Praise God!!

I don't know yet if the doctor had to remove any of the chest wall or how many lymph nodes she took during the surgery. She told my family that the surgery was a little tricky. She had to take out several damaged lymph nodes up against the blood vessals. I hope to know more details when I see her again.

Laura and Leslie are coming home on Saturday. So far my sister Mitzi & brother-in-law John have courageously survived having 6 kids at their house for over a week. Laura told me the other night "Mommy, we all went out last night and caught fireflies. It was so much fun." I was about to say "Awww how sweet..." when she added, "And then we fed them to Stephen's Venus Fly Trap plant." I just had to laugh. I understand there is also a toothfairy (Heather and Joe in disquise) sending notes to Leslie. The toothfairy is not even requiring lost teeth in VA!

I was asked last week by Laura and Leslie if I believed Peter Pan and Tinkerbell were real. I was honest and explained that I thought they were make believe. My girls politely informed me I was wrong because the toothfairy (about a year ago) had written a note saying she'd seen Tinkerbell in Fairyland and if the toothfairy says so, it MUST be true. (Guess I've dug myself in pretty deep). Hopefully this "toothfairy" in VA can help dig me out! ;)

I really enjoyed reading the comments on the last post about the other adventures Laura and Leslie have been having with all our dear friends in VA. Thank you all so much for adopting the girls for the week. It has meant so much to me and Randy to know they can enjoy the summer not having to deal with things like "surgery" or "cancer."

Yesterday I saw an interview with Olivia Newton John who is a breast cancer survivor. She calls herself not just a survivor but a "Thriver." Survivor has such wonderful've made've beat the cancer. It also, she said, gives you the mental picture of someone still holding on to dear life or someone with their head just above the water. She proudly explained after 16 years cancer free she felt like a Thriver, with a very full life.

Psalm 1:1-3 says "Happy is the man who does not go in the company of sinners, or take his place in the way of evil-doers, or in the seat of those who do not give honour to the Lord. But whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and whose mind is on his law day and night. He will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, which gives its fruit at the right time, whose leaves will ever be green; and he will do well in all his undertakings."

I want to be like the thriving tree in that verse. I am definately a Survivor. I have beat the cancer. There are days when my head feels just above the water. On the other hand, I have such a wonderful life. I know there are good times ahead. Guess that makes me a "Thriving Survivor" or a "Surviving Thriver?" I don't know which but I'm on my way to being a Thriver. That's what counts. Hope you are Thrivers too.

Lots of love to all,


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Back Home!

Dear friends and family,

I am back home! The surgery went really well. I was afraid I would be scared or lonely when it came time for the surgery to start but I wasn't. The truth is I barely remember that part at all. They started the anesthesia when I still had family around me.

I have two tubes sticking out of me that must be drained every few hours and a pain pump that hangs around my neck. I am sore and stiff but that is all. The scars are a little tough to take, but I know they are temporary and I feel at peace with my decision. Every day I feel better. I am so pleased to have made it downstairs to the computer by myself. That is my accomplishment for the day!

I am spending most of my time hanging out in the recliner watching TV while my wonderful husband waits on me hand and foot. (Sigh, it's a hard life). He is so wonderful. You all have been so wonderful. God is so good.

Laura and Leslie are up in VA with my sister Mitzi. Randy and I miss them but we know they are having a great time.

Thank you all so much for your prayers. Lots of love,


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Out of Surgery

Kerry's surgery is complete and she is in recovery. Randy said that everything went well. Please continue to pray for healing both physically and emotionally as I know this will be a difficult time for her.

Monday, June 8, 2009

As Angels Watch Over Me Through the Night...

Hello Dear Friends and Family!

Obviously I've been thinking alot about my surgery lately. It will be Thursday morning at 8 am.

You know those Verizon Wireless commericals, the ones where a person has their entire phone network of like 100 people following them everywhere they go? Well for me surgery isn't like that. Well, it is but it feels like it isn't. Let me explain.

When I was diagnosed with cancer I had never had a major surgery before in my life. Now it looks like I will have three total in my breast cancer recovery, maybe more. The surgery is not life threatening or anything but it still is a little scary. I'm sure any of you out there who have had major surgery would say the same. Now of course the doctor is there. And I think the world of mine. But the people in this world you are used to relying on can't be right there to hold your hand. When you are wheeled into surgery your spouse can't go with you...your parents, your siblings, your friends. Sure they will be waiting for you on the other side and that makes a HUGE difference. But when it comes down to that moment when you go into surgery you are going into it ALONE. Your support network can't go with you. I knew all that in my head before but I never experienced it until I had cancer.

The truth is your "network" as wonderful as it is can't carry your burden for you. They can help you tremendously (and mine certainly has) but they can't take it from you. Like Christian in Pilgrim's Progress your burden in life (whatever that burden may be) is your own to carry.

The good news is that if you have Jesus in your heart you are NOT ALONE and He can make that burden seem light if you give it to Him. And what matters most when you are wheeled into that operating room right then and there is your relationship with God. You can either feel isolated at that moment or know you are in better hands.

When I tuck my girls into bed at night we say the "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer. The version I said as a kid has the line "If I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take." I remember dreading that line as a kid, wishing I just could skip over it. As an adult now though I understand how comforting (not scary) that line really is. My kids and I say a version with the line "As Angels watch over me through the night until I wake in the morning light."

When I am wheeled into that operating room, I am not only going to picture my wonderful network waiting for me on the other side of the door (and praying for me all over the country) but I am also going to close my eyes and imagine an army of heavenly angels all around me, watching over me. I will not be alone. God will carry me through.

It reminds me of that beautiful poem "Footprints."

I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets
of footprints in the sand,
one belonging to me
and one to my Lord.

When the last scene of my life shot before me
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
There was only one set of footprints.
I realized that this was at the lowest
and saddest times of my life.
This always bothered me
and I questioned the Lord
about my dilemma.

“Lord, you told me when I decided to follow You,
You would walk and talk with me all the way.
But I'm aware that during the most troublesome
times of my life there is only one set of footprints.
I just don't understand why, when I needed You most,
You leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child,
I love you and will never leave you
never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints
it was then that I carried you.”

Margaret Fishback Powers

See you all on the other side of the operating room! Lots of love,


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Child-Like Faith

Hello Dear friends and family!

Child-like faith. That is what I hope to show to others. A contagious, child-like faith.

Mark 10:13-16 says,
And they were bringing children to Jesus so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

This morning on Good Morning America I saw a story about a 10 year old girl with breast cancer. You heard me correctly...10 years old. Here's a link to her incredible story. Her positive outlook is amazing. I watched it and I cried.

I have talked to a couple mothers whose children are battling or have battled cancer. Their spirit and outlook on life have been very inspirational to me. It is truly amazing and humbling what we can learn from children sometimes.

With this in mind we are happy to announce another new shirt! It was designed by Michelle at Luna B Tees and suggested by a mother whose little boy Phillip is in remission from leukemia. It is the God is so much bigger than Pediatric Cancer shirt! (Yeah!!!!) These are now available on I can't wait until after surgery when I can give some of these out!! Here's a link to the caringbridge site of that special family and a precious picture of Phillip modeling it.

Yesterday Randy and I had an appointment with my breast surgeon. We had a huge list of questions. She spent well over an hour with us going through the list answering each one by one. If there is one thing I have learned about breast cancer it is that it is VERY complicated. You can't expect "yes" and "no" answers to anything. The best doctor in the world can't give you those.

All the answers can be best summed up in two statements: every person is different and every breast cancer is different. I really don't know for sure yet how many surgeries I will have. I really don't know how long my recovery time will be. All they can give you are ranges and estimates. As a "planner" this can drive you a little crazy. There are also so many "what ifs" or unpredictable things that go wrong too, some of which I will have to watch for the rest of my life (lymphadema, blood clots,etc.). What the surgeon kept telling me was to not fixate on all the little unpredictable things but to just keep my eyes on the goal, the goal of being cancer free. I keep wanting the cancer treatments to be a sprint to the finish but clearly it is more of a marathon with unknown twists and turns.

My surgery is late next week. I am having a modified radical mastectomy with an expander on the right. Thanks so much for your continued prayer and support. I am READY for it. That child-like faith will see me through. Lots of love,