My Two Year “Chemoversary”

So today marks the second anniversary of my last chemo treatment.  Praise the Lord!

I’m feeling well, my health is getting better day by day, and I am happy to be alive.

As I type this, I’m actually walking on my treadmill at the “desk” I created with a leaf from our dining room table stretched across the handles of the treadmill. Somehow, spending time walking on this is so much easier when I have something else to do.

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Do you ever feel like you shouldn’t spend the time to exercise because you have “better” things to do?  Maybe more fun, or more pressing or even just because it feels like a “luxury”?  I know I struggle with that sometimes.  Really though, it’s important, and by getting creative, great discoveries are made.  This contraption?  It’s the byproduct of a FitBit challenge with my cousin Matt’s wife, Jaige.  I challenged her to see who could do the most steps in the weekend.  For some reason she thinks this is cheating!  I wholeheartedly disagree. 🙂

I don’t feel overwhelmingly philosophical tonight, I just didn’t think a great day like today should go by without a celebratory post. 🙂  Enjjoy each day as it comes.  You never know what may be around the next bend.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

“I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of [the LORD].  Psalm 118:17 ASV

Why?

To be honest with you, I really wish I’d never have to revisit this blog. Actually, I wish I’d never had the feeling of needing it! Now before you start freaking out, this isn’t about my personal cancer journey. I just have to let some things out.

I got a call today that it’s time for my semi-annual scans. Because I’ve been PET negative for a year, Dr. Sharman is fine with me having just a CT (CAT) Scan this time. Ok, no big deal. Also my 3 month checkup happens to be this month on the 16th. Fine. This doesn’t bother me. I’ve had a few weird things crop up in the past year or so – like a walnut/tree nut allergy. What’s up with that? I love nuts! Grr.

Anyway, I got home tonight and Tom told me that he saw on Facebook that a friend of mine had something big happening. I said, “What?” He said, “She just found out she has cancer.” WHAT????? Just typing this pulls the feelings to the surface again.

I am so angry.

And scared.

And just want to scream!

I’ve been sitting here on my bed, rocking like a crazy person with tears streaming down my face. Sobbing like a baby with my breath coming in choked gasps. Why?

Please pray for my friend Danielle. She has been diagnosed with colon cancer. She has been through way more than ANY new mommy should ever have to go through.

Out of the darkness

Cancer Free

Today is a happy day.  It’s my chemoversary, and I’m EXCITED!!!

Today I had my routine 3 month physical checkup with Dr. Sharman, my oncologist at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute in Eugene, OR.  I thought it was pretty cool that the appointment landed on my one year chemoversary.  By the way, I’m not sure that’s a real word, but get used to it, because I’m going to use it. 🙂

For those of you that live here locally, you know what an amazingly gorgeous day today was.  The sun was blazing, the air was crisp, and it was just an all around perfect fall day.  As my car was winding down the parking garage I got to reflecting back on this past year and a half.  It’s been a very dark time.  Not just for me, but for our whole family.  We have been faced with things and situations that we never dreamed we would have to consider.  I’d like to think that we’ve all learned major lessons, however, I can really only speak for myself.  I have learned that I’m stronger than I thought I was.

I turned another corner and went down another level in the garage.  One year ago, I was doing this.  It’s 1:52 pm.  Was my chemo appointment in the morning?  I’m thinking it was.  I could have been leaving this place at this exact time a year ago.

Another corner.  There’s been so many changes.  I have a cute hairstyle now.  And even though it’s got more grey than I used to have, I kind of like it. 🙂  It’s natural highlighting.  I think I can rock the grey.

Another corner.  I’m almost to the ground floor.  This feels great!  I don’t have to come here again for another 3 months, and I don’t have to have a PET scan the next time!  Apparently I’ve been PET negative long enough, that the doctor said we can do a regular CT scan, because now we’re just looking for growth changes.  I can handle that.  Heck, it’s going to be a LOT cheaper of a test & I don’t have to do the whole no-carb prep thing, sounds like a win-win to me!

Finally, I can see the exit.  It’s really bright.  The sun is shining.  The symbolism does not escape me.  Here I am, leaving a dark parking garage and entering a beautiful day – a lot like my life.  I’m leaving that dark time where it seemed like I was going in circles.  Now I’m entering a bright and vibrant era…  The future looks wonderful, and I’m here to experience it.

I’m getting closer to the outside.  The rectangle of the exit area is getting larger and larger.  It’s getting brighter.  I’m leaving the dark garage.

Now’s my chance.  Do I pull into a parking spot & just stay here?  Are you kidding?  When there’s so much out there in the light?  I drive on.  Out of the darkness.

Isaiah 42:16
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them.

 

One Year Ago Today…

One year ago today,

I had hair, long hair.
I was scared.
I didn’t know what to expect.
I had my first PET scan.
I wondered what the doctors would find.
I was afraid of having my blood drawn.
I was terrified of chemo.
I worried about the future.

Today,

I have short, fun, sassy hair. But I HAVE hair!
I am still nervous when I go into the doctor’s office.
I know what happens when you’re diagnosed with cancer, and it’s not fun to go through.
I know that the doctors have found that I no longer have cancer!
I still don’t like having my blood drawn, but it’s not as scary as it used to be.
I have conquered chemo.
I am at peace about my future, and it looks good!

I’ve come a long way in a year. I’ve seen and done things that I never want to repeat, yet wouldn’t trade, (and no, I’m not lying). I am writing this as I sit in the waiting room for my 6 month post-chemo checkup with Dr. Sharman at the Willamette Valley Cancer Institute in Springfield, OR. I am so thankful for the love and care they showed me through my battle.

Do I worry about my cancer coming back? Sometimes, but it’s usually only when I’m sitting in places like this. Most of the time, I’m out being normal – living my life!

I have to say a special thank you to Keller Williams Realty Mid-Willamette, and the non-profit foundation of Keller Williams Realty International, KW Cares. If it weren’t for the financial assistance that we received from them and many others not affiliated with KW, we would be buried in debt with little hope of recovering for years. For all you have all done, I am so grateful.

God has truly been my strength through all of this. I’m reminded daily as I hear songs on Air1 and KLove – songs that encouraged me through the tough times. He gave me the strength and the will to make it. Everyone else was like God “with skin on”. You gave me encouragement, love, hope and inspiration. Courage to make it through. And because of that, today I am cancer free.

On the left is my first PET Scan, on 4/23/13, and on the right is my most recent PET Scan image on 1/25/13.  Note that the cancer mass in my chest (the irregularly shaped one) is no longer lighting up with cancer!  The other large, dark spots you see are the heart, kidneys, and bladder.  And of course my brain & face, but I figured you knew that. 🙂

1-24-13 PET Scan

Another Fight Is Over

Well my friends, I’m kinda shocked to be posting twice in a week. I know, crazy. Just think how lucky you are! 🙂 Just kidding, you’re probably not reading this. Anyway, sometimes I just write to get things off my chest.

Tonight I am a little sad. Another friend has fought the good fight, she finished her race and she kept the faith. Wendy Ramsey fought Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for a long time – I’m not sure how many years. In December, 2 months after my last chemo treatment, I was going through a time where I thought maybe my symptoms were returning & I didn’t know really who to talk to. I didn’t want to worry my family, so I reached out to Wendy just to ask what signs she had when her cancer was returning. I want to copy her response to my worries so you can see what an encouragement she was to me.

“My cancer just grew under the first chemo. So you being cancer free is a blessing! I did go into post menopause and my thyroid stopped working properly…your symptoms sound like those could be possible. I would ask your Dr when you get in. As for those freak out moments I spend time in God’s word and prayer. He is my peace…enjoy every moment you have. Don’t allow Satan to put bad thoughts in your head. I like to repeat daily even if it’s not how I feel – ‘I am happy, healthy, and cancer free!’ Remember we serve a Loving God who is our Healer. 🙂 Rest in him…sending prayers up for you!”

I don’t think I could say it better. Welcome home to Jesus, precious Wendy. You have been such a shining light for Him. May you now enjoy His Presence.

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Oh What A Difference A Year Makes!

One year ago today I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Today I am in complete remission. God Is GOOD!

I had planned to write the story of how it all started and post it today, but I’ve been so busy with work, that I haven’t had time to do it. I guess that can be a good thing. 🙂

Psalm 118:17 ~ “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.”

Feeling Better Day by Day

This morning I went to Samaritan Albany General Hospital to have some preliminary blood work done for my PET scan this coming Friday. I had a new phlebotomist when I went in, so I was a little bit nervous, but she was amazing – it barely hurt at all! 🙂

After the blood draw, I got to go to Urgent Care in North Albany to have my ankles looked at. Last night, I was going down the stairs at my mom & dad’s house only to slip on the steps, roll both ankles, and break my favorite shoes! Grr. Anyway, I got in to Urgent Care, and when the doctor walked in, I thought I recognized him. Turns out, Dr. Simon was the doctor that was on duty last April when I went in with an irregular heartbeat. He is the one that found the tennis ball sized mass in my chest.

We chuckled over the discovery and talked about how my last year has been, and then he got to work. He looked over my ankles, even though the right one didn’t feel too bad to me. I was a little surprised when he said that he was going to have my left ankle & my right foot x-rayed. I said, “If you send me outta here with two casts, I’m never going to come see you again!” 🙂 Turns out, they’re both just sprained. It’s not really a big deal, I’m just wearing a brace on my left ankle – the right foot is virtually pain free.

I’ve been getting more energy day by day anymore. I think the biggest contributor is the fact that I started drinking some nutritional shakes three times a day. To keep from sounding too much like a commercial, I’ll keep it low key, but I am amazed at how I’ve been feeling lately! I’d be happy to tell you more about it if you want to ask me directly, but I can definitely say that I’m loving me some Reliv shakes!

I’ll let you know how the PET scan turns out probably next week after I meet with my oncologist, Dr. Sharman, on the 29th. Until then, enjoy life & don’t waste a day. You never know what the next day can bring!

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