I’ve been gone for some time now, huh?! I definitely have to attribute that to the awesome week off that I was able to enjoy away from treatment.
It’s official! I completed my final round of radiation on June 14th, and what a relief that was! I knew I didn’t like radiation throughout it, but now that I don’t have to go every single day, the truth is sinking in. I truly despise it! I’m very much aware that although I despise laser beams shooting the crap out of my body, I am also very grateful for it because it’s a key piece in my treatment journey. But now it’s over and I’m done talking about it for a while. Plus, I’m sure you’ve heard me rant enough about how much radiation sucks… Nothing’s changed.
Here’s a quick and summarized update about what’s happened since you last heard from me three weeks ago:
- My husband and I celebrated our two year wedding anniversary, and it was glorious. I’m continually reminded of why I married this man, and I will always be grateful that he chose to share his life with me. He surprised me the whole night, beginning with a romantic dinner at Maggiano’s in downtown Denver. We then stopped by a private party that a wonderful friend invited us to, where we had the rare and amazing opportunity to meet Coach George Karl of the Denver Nuggets. As most of you know, he is a fellow cancer soldier and survivor and to hear him tell me personally, “Keep kickin cancer’s ass, and have fun with it” was a true blessing. Following our rendezvous with the coach, we headed over to the Garner Galleria to watch the musical “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!”. If you haven’t had the chance to see it yet, you should. It was hilarious, and exactly what I needed to lift my spirits and keep me in the present. Oh, how I love my husband and how thoughtful he is.
- My youngest brother is in town, and we’ve had the opportunity to spend some much needed time together. He graduated college in May, and is enjoying his last summer of freedom before the “real world” starts. He’s also been a great help in entertaining my husband and getting him out, about, and away from all of the cancer hubbub. After all, guys will always need “guy night”. And through all of this, my husband deserves every single one he wants to have!
- With a 10 day reprieve from treatment, we were also able to spend quality time with our best friends. We love them tremendously, and have no clue what we would do without their love, encouragement, and support. And not only have we been able to spend time with them, but with a lot of our other friends as well. I actually felt like a real person again, and not just a science experiment drudging through cancer treatments every day! Seeing our friends has helped me keep my head on straight. In addition, we’ve been able to spend time with my two nanny families. Seeing my kiddos brightens my day every single time I get to be with them. Kids will always have that effect on both Matt and I.
Now that radiation is over, a lot of you have asked where things are going now. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week, I finished another round of chemotherapy. These rounds are identical to my very first three. Three days on chemo and two weeks off- three days on, two weeks off- and three days on, two weeks off. I should be completely done with all of my treatment by mid August! The end is in sight! As weird as it may sound, I’m excited to be back in the regular swing of things with my sole treatment being chemotherapy now. It’s a little more predictable, and I feel slightly more prepared to handle it this time. One thing I forgot about, or rather tried to block from my mind, were the shots I used to have to give myself when my blood cell counts got too low. Well, I was reminded again after this week of treatment that Neupogen shots are a part of my reality. My white blood cells were low this week, so I was given four shots to take home and self-administer over the next four days. I detest these shots, but I do know that they help me feel better. For that, I’m grateful.
Please continue to pray for my strength through this last leg of the adventure, that side effects remain by the way-side, and that my emotions remain on top of the hill and not in the valley. This is one tough journey!
1 Peter 5:8-11 (Message Version)
“Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.”
Can someone call the whaaaambulance for me? I’m about to be a whiner.
Treatment has been so not fun lately, folks. Although, considering what I’m going through, my body has been handling all of this poison fairly well. I still have yet to throw up, however, I’ve definitely stepped into a new level of feeling like utter crap. I was so encouraged throughout the beginning half of my treatment plan because I had loads of energy, wasn’t getting sick often, and generally felt pretty good. Like I mentioned in my last post, radiation is a complete game changer. Here’s an analogy: Say you get sea-sick on boats. Radiation is like adding a torrential thunderstorm into the mix. Dealing with sea-sickness isn’t so bad, but when the boat starts rocking uncontrollably, and the rain and lightening begins, you just want to get to shore. Shore=the end of treatment. I’m so ready to get to the shore.
Before I continue, let me warn and remind you that I will be blunt sometimes. Now is one of those times. Parental discretion is advised! I’m sharing my journey right? This isn’t just rainbows all the time, friends. I’ve got to shed light on the dark clouds, too. That being said… Radiation side-effects took full hold of me about 9 days ago. In fact, all fluff aside, they kicked my ass pretty hard for a few days. I’m managing fairly well now, but those first few days were hell. I would never wish this type of pain on anyone. Without getting too graphic, (although I’m sure some of you will think this is graphic enough), it felt like I was urinating acid. Mind you, radiation’s purpose is to kill all the cells in the localized area. It’s definitely doing it’s job. They have the beams aimed at my pelvic region which includes all my lady parts, the space where my reproductive parts used to hang out, and my bladder. Let me give you a different perspective. My oncologist won’t even do an exam for a couple of months after my radiation treatments are done. She won’t even go near that area because the cells are so entirely wrecked. I don’t blame her, I wouldn’t get that close to me right now, either! Back to the bladder, in case you haven’t had enough description. Acid. Pure acid. For women (or men) who have experienced urinary tract infections, you can slightly understand the pain. There’s an upside to this type of pain, however. It only comes when urinating, and goes away until I need to empty my bladder again. Like I said, the first few days were awful. I shouldn’t admit this, but I’m being transparent here- I actually screamed a few times while using the restroom. Needless to say, my husband was pretty shocked at the extent of pain I was in! After some research, we discovered ways to ease the pain, and I’m so very grateful that they have worked thus far. In fact, I can proudly announce that I rarely experience pain while using the restroom anymore! Pray that continues! I’ve got 8 more radiation treatments. I can do this.
As a side note for those who read my blog who may have a family member going through a cancer journey of their own, or for those who are in this fight with me: Please understand my intention is not to scare, frighten, or cause anxiety for you. All of our side-effects and treatments are different. You may react completely opposite than I have. My purpose in writing this blog has been to shine light on topics that doctors simply can not share with you, as they (most likely) have not personally fought this battle. There are things we experience that no one can understand. My sharing “technique” is to be as up-front as possible. It also helps those not knowing what I’m experiencing to better pray for me. Another reason I shine light on all aspects of my journey is because it’s just that: a journey. Stories have ups and downs, and who I am to act like things are perfect all the time? I am eternally grateful for my faith in the Lord. A dear friend recently encouraged me by saying, “God has not changed in the middle of our weakness and feeling like crap. All the prayers that have been prayed for you are still producing in the Kingdom of God for you.” Praise God, that that is the TRUTH! Although, I have bad days (as you will as well), God never changes. He remains the same strong, compassionate, caring, loving friend who fights for us with all He’s got. He’s my lion bursting forth his roars against the enemy, protecting me fiercely. Take heed in that, my fellow survivors.
The whining section of this entry is over…Phew! Let’s continue on to some really great news. A wonderful friend of mine works for the hospital where I am receiving treatment. With her immense help, they have decided to follow my story on their social media sites and the main hospital website. How cool is that!? She has visited me during treatment a couple of times to interview me regarding my path thus far. Let me just say, for those who have never been interviewed on or off camera, it’s a very surreal experience. In addition, it was quite humbling for me. It’s a reminder that this story isn’t just about me. Sure, I’m the one with the cancer, but all who surround me are being affected. Even those who don’t know me are affected. I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again. God gave me this story to share with others. He blessed me with this testimony and I want to tell people about it! I’m learning more and more often how many people God is touching through this chapter in my life, and I’m grateful to be His vessel. What an honor. My friend has completed the article and it went live today. I would love for y’all to check it out and share it with your friends! Below I’ve included the link to the Swedish Hospital main website and their blog where you can find my article.
PS: It’s my husband and I’s 2 year wedding anniversary tomorrow! I’m so thankful to have this man standing by me in this fight.
Psalm 71:16-18 (ESV)
“With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”