(Written on Sunday, 3/11)
Hello to all! I’m sure you’ve noticed that I haven’t posted in a couple weeks. Thank you for being patient with me during this time; I have had many ups and downs. As you know, if you’ve been keeping up with my treatment schedule, I’ve been “enjoying” my two weeks off. Wait, “enjoying” is not the right word. However, the first week off went by pretty smoothly. I had a few down moments and times of exhaustion, although, for the most part I was feeling pretty good. This second week hit me the hardest. I was astounded at how bad I felt.
My nurses initially told me that because of the two specific chemo drugs I was on, I would experience a lot of vomiting. I can proudly say, to this day I have not yet thrown up! Although I haven’t barfed, hurled, heaved, or upchucked, I still felt pretty lousy. In fact, this is the first full day that I have felt really good. Genuinely good. Not, “My whole body aches, but I’m fine”. Or, “My stomach is pretty sore, but I’ll be ok”. I’m honestly feeling good. The fact of the matter is, I’m barely a month out from having my radical hysterectomy. I can expect to feel sore. That part won’t go away for a while. But as for achey, fever, nausea, and other side effects, today I have steered clear of them. Praise God.
Because this was my first round of chemo, I had no idea how my body would react. Like I said before, I went through a multitude of ups and downs. I was on a mountain one moment, and at the bottom of the ocean the next. In addition, because I experienced a gamut of emotions and variety of pain levels, I wasn’t able to sit down and take time to update my blog. I’ve been “gone” a while so let me recap this past week for you. This will help you better grasp this portion of my journey…
Friday the 2nd, I went in for another blood draw and found out that all of my levels, white and red blood cells included, were extremely low. Out of the normal range, low. So low, that my chemo nurse gave me shots to take home so that I could self inject a special type of medicine. (If I have not yet explained how I dislike self-injections, let me do so now. I strongly detest them. They are never fun. They always hurt. End rant.) This medicine boosted my bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. White blood cells are good, folks. Especially when you are fighting cancer.
From Saturday (3/3) through Monday (3/5), I felt like I had the flu. Complete with a very high fever, body aches, muscle soreness, and skin sensitivity. In fact, I had to call my doctor on one of those nights because my fever went past 100.8, which is, according to my nurses, not good. After following instructions to take 1000 mg of Tylenol, my fever broke, and I began to feel better. Matt and I made it home, and settled in again. However, by Wednesday (3/7), I was an emotional wreck. When you have cancer, these things happen. You can’t rely on the self-control of emotions any longer. If I feel sad, I must cry. If I feel happy, I laugh. It’s okay. And, it’s extremely acceptable. I mean, come on, I have cancer. I’m allowed to be crumpled on the floor of the shower sobbing like a 2 year old baby. Oh yes, that definitely did happen. Wednesday, was one of my lowest points thus far. Not only did I experience true, deep, heart wrenching sadness for the first time in my life, I also began losing my hair. That story, I will save for another blog.
As the week progressed, I slowly began to feel a little better. Better, as in, I was able to get out of bed and think of other things, unrelated to cancer. Last night (Saturday, 3/10) I felt pretty good. In fact, I felt good enough to venture out of the house with my adoring husband and attend the performance of wonderful students of my step-dad. They put on a play titled “Resurrection Remixed”. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was eye-opening, and it really touched my heart. High school kids don’t get enough credit sometimes.
Today was a good day. However, good doesn’t fully define it. It was more like a great day. I woke up and felt good. You know, among the million other things you take for granted before you are diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, one of them includes deciphering if your day is good or bad. That’s my life now. I wake up and have a conversation with myself in regards to how I’m feeling. (Not out loud, friends… I’m not crazy; I just have cancer.) Prior to my diagnosis and beginning of treatment, I would wake up, like most of you, and decide what I would do that day. Never once did I consciously have to stop and decide if I was feeling good enough to take a shower, let alone go grocery shopping, attend church, hang out with friends, cook a meal, or any other daily activities. That’s my reality now. I base my days on how I’m feeling, and I take it one day at a time. I don’t worry about tomorrow, I worry about today. And a good day involves less worrying. In addition, I now officially suck at making and keeping plans. Don’t take this personally.
Again, I thank you for being patient with me during this dry spell. After all, this past cycle was my very first time receiving chemo. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know I would feel this lousy. And I definitely didn’t expect my good moments to only last a few hours at first. Please continue to be patient with me as I will be starting my next round of chemo tomorrow (Monday, 3/12). Unfortunately, not all cycles are the same, and during my treatment, there won’t be any predicting how I will feel. I may feel the same, I may feel worse. In fact, I might actually get nauseous this time. However, pray that I don’t.
Without going into a life lesson schpeel, I will try to touch your hearts and open your minds in this way: Don’t take your moments for granted. Be thankful when you wake up in the morning and don’t have to worry about how your body is feeling. Be happy in the seemingly mundane moments. Smile when you’re at the grocery store. Smile when you’re at the bank. Smile at the waitress who is taking time out of her life to serve you. Serve someone else. Everyone has a story. And friends, just because I have cancer, does not make me oblivious to life’s smaller troubles. Everyone is going through something rough. Whether it be not getting a close parking spot, receiving a bad grade on a test, arguing with your spouse, searching for a job, or desperately trying to make ends meet, we are all going through something. Keep that in mind when someone cuts you off in traffic. Who knows where they might be racing to.
Isaiah 40:28-31 (Message Version)
“Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”
Barbara HighsmithMarch 12, 2012 at 9:26 PM (11 years ago)
We continue to pray for you and all those whom you love. There is nobody we admire, miss, and love more than your Mom and Step Dad. We are beginning to know you better since you have done postings. Your honesty and courage are an inspiration to us. Please tell Matt that we are praying for him too. You have such a great support system surrounding you with love and prayers.
Love in His Name,Reply
Barbara and Harlan Highsmith
Ben LordenMarch 12, 2012 at 9:41 PM (11 years ago)
I am one of your step-dad’s students, and I just wanted to let you know that your challenge at the end of your post really spoke truth into my life. Your encouragement to value every minute of every day is something that I really needed to hear and your challenge to bless others in their lives is something that I will definately take up!
You are an inspiration to me, and I want you to know that I am praying for you, that you will have continued strength and protection, as well as peace for you and your family. As you begin the process of the second round of chemo, I hope that everything goes smoothly and that the joy that I sense in your posts is never quenched!
God bless you and your wonderful family!Reply
Tamara KempMarch 12, 2012 at 10:16 PM (11 years ago)
I was getting worried after not seeing any posts. I am saddened that you have to go through this. I was letting Jennifer know how you were doing and what you were going through. She has fond memories of babysitting you and your brothers and sends her best. Please keep your spirits up and stay strong in the Lord. You and your family are in my prayers daily.
MelitaMarch 12, 2012 at 10:40 PM (11 years ago)
I always look forward to your updates. You inspire me and make me look at life differently. I think and pray for you and your husband everyday.Reply
Ryan Lloyd SorrellsMarch 12, 2012 at 11:28 PM (11 years ago)
Keep hanging in there Stephanie, you’re gonna beat this thing; I just know it and you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement; I am learning a lot from you. God bless you and your family!
AnnemarieMarch 12, 2012 at 11:33 PM (11 years ago)
Stephanie….thank you for the update. Your amazing outlook is admirable. It’s so hard to choose JOY through all you’re dealing with, but I’m SO thankful that our Lord is giving you the strength for you to do that. You’re doing a fabulous job of it too. Praying for you.Reply
bkitchMarch 13, 2012 at 6:48 AM (11 years ago)
Stephanie, I don’t know you and stumbled onto your blog from your mom’s FB page. And I am so incredibly blessed that I did. First of all, you have an amazing gift with words, Every time I read a post I think to myself, “This should be published”. When I read your posts I laugh and I cry and often to both together. You inspire me to live a gracious life. Thank you! Thank you for sharing your story. (And on a side note, I think a little bit of crazy makes us all more funReply
GingerMarch 13, 2012 at 8:16 AM (11 years ago)
I am your nightime prayer person! (I am awake alot at night). Last night I felt like I was battling for you in prayer araound1:00 till 2:30. So, I hope you were sleeping soundly while I was praying. Just telling you that so you know that probably many people are praying for you ‘around the clock’. Also missionaries overseas. love you!Reply
Sherry MurrowMarch 13, 2012 at 9:18 AM (11 years ago)
WHOO-HOOO, YOU WROTE!!! Which means, you FELT GOOD ENOUGH to write! I check this DAILY, Steph, and was just hangin’ on, waiting… REWARD!!!! Delighted you felt good Sunday! THANK YOU for sharing your journey… Your “schpeel” made me think of Stephen Curtis Chapman’s “Do Everything” song/lyrics. Praying for you, Girl! LOVE YOU GUYS!!!Reply
Karen PalenMarch 18, 2012 at 11:07 PM (11 years ago)
Hi Stephanie! Just want you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers often, praying for healing, peace, and a sweet communion with your Savior while you are on this journey. Praying for your sweet momma and the rest of your family too!!Reply
Love you all, Karen