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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.

10-15-14 blog post

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

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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2012 in review

I thought this would be a fun post to have for those of you out there that want a very quick year in review of my blog. 🙂

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 14,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

The Results Are In!

No, I am NOT referring to the 2012 Election!  Although those results are in as well.  I’m not going to go any further on that though, because I know those of you who read my blog came here to find out how my PET scan went.

For those of you interested in what’s been going on in my life lately, I’ve been busy at home, trying to adapt myself into “Survivor” mode.  Anyone who has faced the monster otherwise known as “cancer” can vouch that getting to the end of treatment has it’s ups & downs.  I’m so happy that I don’t have to have chemo again anytime soon!  Yahoo!  Forever now though, will be the nagging feeling of knowing that with each follow up appointment I have, my life could change on a dime.

But enough of that – on to the good news!  My PET scan came back clear – PET Negative is the term they use in oncology world.  Thank you God for the results and thank you Dr. Sharman for being His hands through this ordeal.  Here’s the image of my scan:

 

The dark areas are all normal places like the brain, heart, kidneys, intestines & bladder.  What’s missing are the small, bulb-like lymph nodes and the large mass to the left of my heart (left when you’re looking at the picture, that is) lighting up to show that they are cancerous.  No lights, no cancer detected!  Below is a picture of my FIRST PET scan so you can see the difference:

 

 

So there you have it.  I’m cleared for takeoff – or recovery that is.  Please be praying for me and our family as we learn to adjust to this new pattern of life again.

For those of you wondering, at this point, I’m planning to officially head back to the office in January, but until then, I will be starting to work again as I can from home.  I’ve had many nights lately when I haven’t gotten much sleep at all, so starting back full steam would probably not be a good idea.  There are days that I am still very tired.  I guess I can say recovery is a slow process but I’m glad to be in it!  So feel free to approach me with real estate questions or transactions.  I’m so blessed to have had my friend Cathy Rackham help me with my clients through the past 6 months.  I’m reminded of something she said to me today – “You have the BEST clients!  They’re all so nice!”  I’m proud to work for all of you.  So feel free to call or text me at 541-974-5550 or email me at kdsmith@kw.com.  I’ll hook you up with a great house! 😉

‘Twas The Night Before Chemo

‘Twas the night before chemo
And all through the house,
The mama was blogging
About her next bout…

Of chemo and steroids
And nausea meds and fluids
She wondered and wondered
Just how she’d get through it.

She thought about how
This was the last time
She’d ride that bad ‘coaster
Of sickness and find

Herself feeling groggy
Each moment awake
Or nauseous and dizzy
Instead, she would think

Of her strength returning
And feeling brand new
Of thinking all clearly
And losing weight too.

She thought about how
God had brought her through this
The fight of her life
Had been much short of bliss.

How scary and awful
The path she’d been on
Had seemed at the start
But now that it’s most done

Had been a long road
Of learning to trust
A God who is faithful
To every one of us.

He never did leave her
He never did go
He stayed right there through it
And wouldn’t you know

She knew He was there
From the bittermost part
To the triumphant ending
That was due to start

In less than 12 hours
She’d enter the room
Where others had traveled
The same path of doom

And exited victorious
As winners as champs
Her last day of poison
She’d have the last laugh.

So on to recovery
Twas happy to know
That the rocky next week
Would most certainly go

The way of all memories
Fading with time
The scars being reminders
About a worse time.

How lessons were learned
And how miracles lived
How God answered prayers
And how families gave

OF MEALS!

OF CAR RIDES!

OF GIFTS OF THE HEART!

OF PRAYERS!

OF WELL WISHES!

OF PURSES AND ART!

OF LABORS OF LOVE!

AND OF MONEY GIFTS TOO!

The list that she had,
Well it just grew and grew.

So much to be thankful
So many who cared.
Sometimes she just wondered
Why her life was spared.

She knew she had purpose
And purposed inside
To always remember
And never to hide

Her light in a corner
But let it so shine
That others would wonder
How could she be fine

Having been through this journey
Not totally done
But feeling triumphant
Like she’d already won.

The dishwasher’s going
The kids tucked in tight
It’s time for this mama
To just say good night.