November 9, 2016

I Owe It ALL to Him...

Photo Credit: FirstCovers.com
In my last post I wrote about having to have a scan rather early, however I did not post what the results were..

Let me just begin by saying, I truly owe it ALL to GOD, My Father, My Savior!! He is working in my favor on this journey, well I should not say working in my favor. He is answering prayers, and has again and again throughout this journey. If you have followed since the beginning then you know that I was told in the beginning that my treatment would be on going and I would not be cured, the cancer would be maintained. My best hope was, no evidence of disease. I myself, was very unsure about this, even as much as I have trusted in Him the cancer journey can sometimes be a bundle of nerves. I was particularly apprehensive about this scan because:

  1. It was scheduled earlier than normal. They are usually about 3-4 months apart.
  2. I have been having a lot of pain in the same general area for months and they didn't know where it was coming from.
  3. I was worried the cancer had grown and/or spread.
Well, we went in on the 19th of October for treatment and results....

Ya'll, I could not believe my ears when the doctor left the room!!! The liver tumor is now barely visible if even at all on the scan, they only had to remark on it because it was on the scan I had in August. So, that means all that can be seen on the scan cancer wise is the pelvic lymphnode and it remains stable at this time. He also said, "There was no new evidence of cancer growth." I cannot even begin to tell you how happy I was/am to hear these words, because they are words I wasn't sure I would hear. I am relieved and I am thankful that I serve a mighty God who seen fit for me to be blessed once again on this journey with good news. I am so thankful for that. I am thankful for my life, more now than I ever have been. It truly is a precious gift from Him and we need to thank Him for it everyday.

I am so glad that I can look forward to this holiday season without fear and gloom hanging over my head. I can celebrate my life during this season and I am beyond grateful for that.

I did ask one of my nurses if I would be considered to be in what is called partial remission and her thoughts were yes, but that I would still have to take my treatment on a regular schedule like I have been. I would not be able to have a break of months with no chemo. My chemo is a lot like Round Up. It keeps the cancer away just like Round Up keeps weeds away! 

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), partial remission is defined as a decrease in the size of a tumor, or in the extent of cancer in the body, in response to treatment. Also called a partial response.

THANK YOU JESUS FOR THIS BLESSING UPON MY LIFE AND FAMILY. I COULD NOT HAVE MADE IT THIS FAR WITHOUT YOUR LOVE AND MERCY UPON MY LIFE! THANK YOU FATHER FOR THE STRENGTH YOU GIVE ME TO MAKE IT THROUGH EACH AND EVERY DAY, EVEN WHEN SOME ARE NOT THAT GREAT. EVEN ON THE DAYS THAT I HAVE TO HAVE A GOOD CRY JUST TO PROCESS SOME EMOTIONS AND THOUGHTS. YOU'RE ALWAYS THERE TO PICK ME BACK UP AND SEND WARM, COMFORTING THOUGHTS MY WAY.

Love & Hugs,
Crystal

October 26, 2016

Short, but Sweet...

I know it has been quite sometime since I have written in here. For that I greatly apologize to those who read my blog faithfully, I appreciate you. I have just been really busy this last month with appointments, and just living life that I have not stopped long enough to sit down and let everyone in cyberspace know what has been going on.

Health: As you all know upon last scan the doctor said that we would not have to do any additional therapies to the liver tumor as it was too small. This was 2 months ago. I had to have another scan in mid October because he wanted to try and find out for sure where the pain I have been having was coming from, so we had our next CT a little early than normal.

I came in for the scan on the 17th, just after returning from a weekend away in the mountains with family to see the Biltmore. I really enjoyed our time there and everything we were able to see and do. As soon as I get the pictures on the tablet, I will make a picture post with a few of the pictures  I took on the trip. I took several and do not want to ruin it for those who have not been and may go one day.

So, the scan when fine. They were able to get the blood return from the port they needed.

Wednesday I go in for results and treatment (the 20th). The doctor apologizes for not calling me the night before w/the results as he typically does. I assured him it was fine. Now to the news. The liver tumor is unremarkable on the scan (which means it cannot be seen)... and the pelvic tumor is still the same. And we continued on with round 20.

It is hard to believe how far I have come in just a year. In just a few short weeks I will be having my cancerversary, but I will celebrate this day because I am still here.  When I was first diagnosed with the cancer none of us knew what to expect or where to turn. I just knew that to get through this I was going to have to do some heavy duty trusting in God Almighty, because he was the only way I was going to make it through this. And boy, did He have a plan for this year ya'll. I really and truly expected that even though I was going to grab this by the horns and do what I had to; that I would still look and be somewhat like your typical cancer patient.

Bald head
Loss of weight
Constantly sick
No appetite... etc..

While I did experience a little nausea it was very mild compared to others going through this.

Ya'll, I am blessed to stilll look like me and act like me. My hair may be buzzed but I am still Crystal.

Am I the same person I was a year ago? Not at all. I wouldn't expect to be. I have changed a lot. I am a lot more outspoken about what I think and how I feel. I am still learning to be mindful of others in my situation or similar. I live everyday to the fullest and the best of my ability and also try to remember to start my days in study with Jesus. <3

That's all for now folks! Gotta get some zzZZzzz's...

Love and Hugs
Crystal

September 28, 2016

Round 18: Giggly Girls & SnapChat

Round 18 was lots of fun with my Nana B! We were giggly girls having fun on SnapChat.


 As you can see we had a lot of fun playing on Snap Chat. Afterward. we enjoyed our Wednesday lunch at Jersey Mike's! We truly make the best out of a day that could be filled with gloom. I go in with a smile, and she brings the laughter! I look forward to chemo days with Nana and Mom

Love and Hugs,
Crystal

September 27, 2016

Off Week (7/9/16) ~ Round 13 (7/14/16) ~ Off Week Again (7/16/16)

Off Week

For an off week this one has been quite a challenge. But, I still manage to find good in each day.

I had a very good Fourth of July with Mike, Karen, and cuz Misty. She and I got to meet EmiSunshine! I was  really tired that night and snappy because I was hurting. Thankfully, that is all good now.

However, to backtrack... I learned I do not like to be away from Mom and Dad during chemo week. It's nothing against anyone else, I am just use to the way we do things and that is okay.

Now, why this week has been a challenge...

My hands have been numb and tingling since treatment. This is very frustrating. I can't stand to touch anything cold or wet. I have to put something over a cup and can't stand the feeling of a wash cloth which makes showering difficult. Writing, typing, everything I normally do is effected by this because I don't like the way things feel in my hands.

I have also been ill and irritable this week. This is expected with medications I am on, but I am going to work on it the best I can.

Round 13

So far this round has gone well. I am hoping not have any bad side effects after this round because I have plans Saturday. I watched the ESPYS last night. There was a gentleman on there who has leukemia an has lived 2 years long than expected. He renewed my hope and made me want to fight harder. I find it amazing how people we do not know can help us. I hope that someone out there is helped through my story. I know I have probably touched many and just don't know it.

I had a visit from Aunt Sharon and Uncle Andy today. We went to and visited Mamaw and Papaw. It was good to see them!

September 26, 2016

Everything Is Not Sunshine & Rainbows...

Winnie the Pooh by Jillybean345
Photo Credit: Jillybean345 @ deviantart.net


My blog has become sort of a "Dear Diary" base and I do not like that. I know I use it to update everyone on how my cancer treatment is going and I am happy to do that for you. But, I need to change it up a bit I think, also. I need to be a bit more real with the world outside about what a day in my life is like. I need to share the ins and outs, the good and bad, I need to share it all. And you must know and understand that -everything is not sunshine and rainbows- ~sometimes is black clouds and rain.~

So, what is today? In my world it's sunshine and rainbows. I am content, my pain level is at a steady 1 (yay for this) I am sitting comfortably in my recliner with my favorite blanket, coloring books, a box of Crayons, and my tablet. This is typically how everyday is spent. Typically, especially during chemo week. It is getting that time of year where I need to stay inside and keep my immunity up as best I can for my off weeks. That means, staying inside in my recliner with a big t-shirt on and a diaper under my favorite blanket. [I told you I was going to be raw and open.]

A lot has changed over the last few months as far as the dynamics of my care, and though it has been an adjustment, I am okay with whatever helps and makes everyone of us comfortable as a whole.

How have the dynamics changed? The biggest change for me has been less physical activity. This is due in part to not being able to sit in my wheelchair for extended periods of time because of pain. This particular pain began after having a biopsy done on my lower left pelvis I believe. Since then, I have not been able to sit in my wheelchair for long periods of time unless I medicate before hand. If I do not do so then as soon as I sit down in the chair my pain level shoots up and it takes a while for it to come back down to a bearable level so I can sit in my chair. So, instead of sitting in my chair during the day; I opted for my Mom's recliner. This is the only other place I can sit comfortably besides my bed, and I don't need to stay there all day.

The bathroom has also become kind of nonexistent in my life these days; also due to the pain I mentioned above. It is very uncomfortable to sit on the toilet for any length of time to go. If I am having a good day and able to be up in my wheelchair for the biggest part of the day, I do try my best to use the potty; but more often than not, that just doesn't happen these days. How did we remedy this? You guessed it! Adult pull-ups & diapers. This is the part that took me some getting use to. I found it embarrassing for a while. Who wants to be in such a position at 32 if it can be helped? No one. But, that is the reality of life, sometimes these things cannot be helped and you just have to go with the flow and do what makes things easier and gives you, the patient, the most comfort. Right now, that is what gives me the most comfort because I am not in pain while trying to go, and I shouldn't have to be.

However, it can make for some long tiresome nights for both mom and I. I usually have to wake her up at least 2 times a night depending on how things have gone that day with my stomach. It tends to like to work at night, no matter what we do. But, I know she wouldn't trade this chapter in our lives, nor would I. We needed something to draw us close together, to help us find our comfortzone with each other.. Cancer brought us together, and I will be forever grateful.

 I know some people cannot handle this type of thing and that is fine, but I do pray there is someone out there who can so I can have the love and companionship I deserve to have, just like everyone else.

Bed Time has changed too. Things have to be done a certain way or I am restless and do not sleep well. Truth be told, Mom has be a little spoiled and I am fine with that. She fixes my pillows a certain way each night depending on how I choose to sleep. Generally, I sleep on my left side with one pillow behind my back and the other tucked under my head where I can snuggle the corner along with holding my Pup. [ 32 and sleep with a BaB stuffed animal, win!] She still tucks the cover in around me too... and off to sleep I go and usually sleep all night.

So there you have it neatly laid out... my daily life and what it is like. Even some of what it consists of... and now you know that every day is not sunshine and rainbows. Some days are pain filled and not pleasant for anyone. Others, much like today.. are calm and relaxing...

September 22, 2016

Chemo #10 and 11 (6/16/16)

Chemo #10 and 11

 Round 10 was a bit rough. As I expected it to be. I had some tummy troubles and was completely exhausted from treatment. I slept the entire weekend away. It took a couple days after for me to start feeling good. Then the following Wednesday I ended up vomiting shortly after taking my AM meds. So I took it easy and laid around the majority of the day. Thankfully, by evening I was well again.

Thursday was an exciting day, it was my very first day of work at The Dog House. I really enjoyed it and had a lot fun. Definitely looking forward to next Thursday. The dogs are good anxiety therapy. I ma hoping to pick up one more day on my off weeks. I cannot go in during chemo week because my immunity could be low and I have the 5-FU pump on; which would get in the way a lot.

Round 11 has not been bad at all. (Thank you Jesus). Dr. Tran is still very pleased with how I am doing. Especially how well I am able to keep pain controlled with a few pain meds and heat. Mainly heat!! No tummy trouble so far. The steroids make me hungry though! So, I am off to get some food in my belly!

September 20, 2016

Where Do We Go From Here? (5/22/16) ~ Emotions and Feelings (5/27/16)

Where Do We Go From Here?

 I am hoping to have a better understanding of this very question. It is a difficult question to have in your mind.  I see Dr. Tran Wednesday afternoon and am eager to speak to him about treatment options.

I will not give up this fight. I have too many people fighting for me that are doing so because they love and care about me! I realize I cannot write worth a flip at night. But one day, all this mumbo jumbo will make some kind of sense!

OK! Let's try last nights entry again with clearer thoughts and better handwriting!

Where do we go from here?

Since finding out surgery was not the best option for me, this question has been on my mind. I know we will continue chemo. What kind? Are there any clinical trials i can do. All of these questions will be answered when I see Dr. Tran Wednesday afternoon. My hope is he will have good things to say in light of not having surgery. I also hope that after talking with him the acceptance will come easier. For now, I am just ready to start treatment again.

September 17, 2016

Round 17: More Good News, & Disconnect Day 9.9.16 ~ Off Week


Wednesday's appointment went well. Dr. Tran looked over my last scan again and said the liver tumor was so small, there would likely not be a need for any additional (targeted therapy).

According to the American Cancer Society, Targeted therapy is a newer type of cancer treatment that uses drugs or other substances to more precisely identify and attack cancer cells, usually while doing little damage to normal cells. Targeted therapy is a growing part of many cancer treatment regimens.

I, of course, thought this news was awesome. I just keep seeing how amazing God is through all this.

This week has been good. Nana sat with me at treatment. We enjoyed talking and coloring, and lunch from Jersey Mike's. It has been years since I have ate there - it is still as good as I remember it being back in my MTSU days!

Thursday was also a good day. I did have some pain & discomfort, but it was tolerable. I had sweet company for the afternoon. Mrs. Carolyn Devaney stopped by. She is a very sweet lady. I look forward to visiting with her again soon.

Since going back on a full-time medicine regimen I had to have the dosage lowered because I have been having a hard time staying awake during the day! Hopefully, this change helps! eta: So far it hasn't!!

Today, Friday has been a really good day with mom. We went and had my pump disconnected, and I had to get more Magic Mouthwash, and I will definitely be using it when the inside of my mouth feels chapped. Afterward, I treated us to lunch! We have just had a lot of fun together this week, with the help of Snap Chat. :) Hoping for minimal side effects, although it's looking like some naps may be in there somewhere.





My off week has been pretty good. It's been rather quiet, and I have been somewhat fatigued. The main focus of this week has been keeping pain under control. Somedays that is easy, some it is not. I am still trying to figure out if this medicine regimen is really working or not. I am having a hard time telling...

Thursday, I was able to enjoy dinner with my cousin Michael and his family at Yamato. I love Japanese, and will eat it any chance I get. His little boy, Sawyer is growing and cute as ever! I told them I really appreciated them making time for me, and next time our dinner was my treat!

Friday, was just a quiet day at home. I spent a lot of time going through my social media, and then colored for quite some time. It was a bad day for pain.. hard to control. :/

I have to say, despite trying to control pain today has been a good day. Mom, Dad, and I enjoyed an early dinner at Huddle House. The best part of my meal was the Dr. Pepper float. I was going to come home and nap, but as you can see that has not happened yet, I decided to write!!




September 15, 2016

Off Chemo(5/9/16) ~ Meeting with Dr. Lorenzo (5/12/16)

Off Chemo

I am glad to say I have enjoyed being off treatment. I was able to thoroughly enjoy a family camping trip in the mountains. We had a lot of good fellowship. It was much needed for everyone. I honestly can't wait to do it again. We were able to spend time with some extended family on the trip as well. Dad's brother Mickey, Aunt Wilma and their grands went too. It was awesome to hang out with everyone. We of course did a little shopping while we were there. Then, on our last day; sis, Colton, and I stayed behind and we went to Gatlinburg and spent the day. We went through the Hollywood wax museum, a car museum, and ate lunch at Dick's Last Resort. It was all a lot of fun! Like I said, I can't wait to do it again. I love the mountains!

Even though I am off chemo in preparation for surgery I still have moments. I got upset and cried the other night. I had not done that in a long time. I just got overwhelmed thinking about all I have to deal with day in and day out. Medicines, counts, etc. But I have to remember God is in control, not me and there will be victory in this fight.

September 13, 2016

A Moment (4/19/16) ~ Biopsy, ER, Doctor Visit (4/26/16)

A Moment 

For the first time in a long time I had a moment. A moment of anger. A moment I didn't want to. I wished for a moment that I did not know about the cancer, but then what? I wouldn't know how to make the best of each day like I do now.

Still, I get annoyed at all the little things that have come with this journey. Blood pressure meds, anxiety meds, shots for blood clots... not how I thought life would be in my 30's, but it is not my plan; it's His. I have to keep trusting He has this. I know I will make it. It just gets hard when you let your mind get the best of you, and that happens sometimes because we are human.

I am glad that when the negative emotions and thoughts rage in my mind it is only for a moment, then I get over and and go back to my happy self. I had to go to the doctor today and have my incision site looked at, it's been bothering me. For now, we just keep an eye on it.

I know this will all be for His good, but sometimes you just get angry.

September 8, 2016

Round 8: Reaction (4/2/16) ~ Round 9 (4/17/16)

Round 8: Reaction

This round of chemo took an unexpected turn. I had a reaction to some of the chemo. I got very hot, my BP went up, and I felt like I could pass out at any moment. It was very scary!

The doctor quickly took me off the meds that caused the reaction and said he will change it. I was given a steroid and began to feel better shortly thereafter! In the meantime I have just enjoyed time off while waiting for the CT at the end of this week. I did experience a little nausea this cycle but it was tolerable.

I have noticed less anxiety this go round as well, even knowing I have a scan. I have kept as busy as I could and kept positive people and thoughts around! I am impressed daily with the way I feel and the mobility I have regained.

God is working in my life. I have no doubt. I know He has His hand on those scan results already and they are going to be just fine. IN JESUS NAME!!

September 6, 2016

No Title (3/13/16) ~ Round 7: Chemo Day (3/16/16)

No Title

This has just continued to be a great week. The sunshine has really improved my mood this week and I have enjoyed a lot this week. Tomorrow is Round 7. I am looking forward to having a couple friends visit and have lunch. And praying for no side effects!

September 1, 2016

Round #6 - Great Week (3/4/16) ~ Off Week - Fun, Sun, and Blessings (3/13/16)

Round #6 Great Week

This week was round 6, only two more to go before the next scan. My week started out with seeing Foreigner in concert at the Tivoli with Erin. We ha an awesome time. We even got moved to the front row so I could see the show, and I got the set list at the end of the show!!

I also received good news from Dr. Tran this week. My tumor markers are normal. This is an indication that the chemo is still working. I am so glad it has been a great week!


August 30, 2016

Feelings (2/11/16) #5/ Off week (2/23/16)

Loneliness - I have been single now almost 3 years and been fine. However, I have noticed the further into treatment I get the more lonely I feel. I know I have a lot of people who love and care for me, but I long to love someone again. I know it will happen with time...

Anxiety/Sadness - I've had a problem with anxiety & sadness for  a couple weeks because I knew I had a scan coming up this week. I've woke up crying a few mornings and experienced thoughts of what if... not sure what to expect next...

Happiness/Reassurance - Knowing for sure things are going well and treatment IS working.
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Round 5 went well, no side effects as experienced with 4. I have been going and doing a lot more the last couple weeks even though it has been cold and wet. I will be glad when Spring arrives and the sunshine is out more - though I will still have to cover up so my face doesn't turn pink!

Therapy is going well. Not sure if we are going to do a lot, but it is something and they do come to the house.

August 25, 2016

Round 16, Birchwood Girls, Church - Pictures Included!


Wednesday was fantastic for the most part. I had some pain, but I fought through it. I got up early enough to put make up on, which was fun, and made me feel good. I figured I may as well put my free samples to use instead of just letting them sit in my make up bag. The eyeliner I got in my Ipsy bag this month rocks! I always look forward to getting my make up bag each month, now to start making a point to get use out of it.

Jessica, (My Birchwood Girl) came to visit Mom and me at treatment this week. We went out for lunch after, and then had a short, nice visit at her house before having to head out for church. She has a beautiful home. It is very quiet and peaceful with a lot of natural light coming in. I love it and could spend hours sitting by the huge windows in the kitchen reading.

Mom mentioned something about wanting my tablet at treatment and I told her she could have it, and I would get an iPad since it would connect with my phone and also since Apple seems to connect to WiFi at treatment a lot better than my Surface. Needless to say, Jess remembered her son had an iPad he no longer used and he kindly gave it to me. I went shopping on Amazon today and bought a case with a keyboard for it. I am looking forward to learning how to use it - cause I've never had an iPad!


This handsome boy right here is Jess' baby named Barnabas. He is a beautiful Maine Coon cat. I am not generally a cat person, but this big guy kinda stole my heart. He is just a big ole baby! He has a very sweet and playful nature about him. So, now I am his "Aunt Crystal". :)

To go back to treatment, it went great today; the new port has made a huge difference. It doesn't feel weighted and heavy upon access like the other one. I really cannot even tell I have this one in. Just knowing that made the day a whole lot better!

However, I do have to change my medicine regiment which I was not happy about, but will do what I have to to remain pain-free at this point even if I don't like it.

Ya know, that's just life sometimes, we fight through pain to have a good day and suck it up, and do things we do not like to remain comfortable and/or pain free to keep our lives worth living!

I was also able to attend the first night of Kids Konnection - a program my church is doing in place of Awana this year. I have to say it is really neat. I enjoy watching the kids get exciting about singing and serving our Lord. I get to be with the toddlers. I must say, it is lots of fun. They are little busy bodies and they love to push my wheelchair around. I am blessed to be able to sit in this class even though we do not really teach them anything. I am teaching them how to accept someone who is "different" at a very young age. I love having this opportunity, and they are a joy to be around. I love the sound of their laughter as they run around giggling, and the warmth of their smile and hugs.

Hugs and Love,
Crystal

P.S.: I just realized I never sign my posts.. shame!

Off Week 2: Indifferent (1/16/16) Chemo Week/Off Week #3 (1/28/16)

Today was a good day, pain free. But I also felt off or indifferent. It was a tough day mentally, but I was able to distract myself with coloring. It helps me a lot. I don't think about anything except the picture I am coloring.

Emily hung out with me today while Mom & Dad got out of the house for a while.

I do not really share with sis when I am feeling a little off. I would just rather write and get everything out that way. I am hoping next week is better mentally & emotionally. I would like to get through the lonely spell. It is lasting longer than I am use to!!

Today's verse is really appropriate/ I am really glad I am learning to trust Him through all things in my life!

This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. I John 5:14 NIV

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This round of chemo went very well other than having trouble getting a blood return. I felt good afterward and was not grouchy. I was looking forward to a great week ahead. I came home and napped. When I woke up I had pain in my neck and shoulder. I thought I had just pulled a muscle. The pain started getting worse so by the advice of Cassie, i called the doctor. They told me to go in and have my port checked. Get to the ER at 11:30 PM Saturday night. Jade was there and stayed til I was diagnosed. (She's awesome)!!

Turns out I had 2 small blood clots, one in each lung. So I was admitted for 4 1/2 days. During this stay I had to have a procedure done to clean my port. It should have taken 10 minutes and took an hour due to complications.

For now, I am happy to say that my port is giving a blood return which keeps me from having to be stuck. I am praying it continues working. I was able to come home yesterday. But, I was very anxious and cried a lot.

Today has been a lot better. I was a little anxous this morning but it got better. I told mom I was going to check out Christian Mingle today. So we will see how that goes!

August 23, 2016

Off Week 2 Sister Time (1/14/16) ~ Off Week 2: Awesome News (1/15/16)

Another great day in the books ya'll! I enjoyed lunch at Stevi B's today with sis. Afterward, we shopped at Target. Then, we went to sis' and hung out for the evening. I really enjoyed spending time there. It had been quite a while.

Today's verse is very fitting! I did pray and have prayers answered today! GLORY! I am looking forward to the weekend even though I do not have plans.

I pray to You, God, because You will help me. Listen and answer my prayer! Ps. 17:6 CEV

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Today turned out to be a really good day despite the gloomy weather. I helped Mom go through her crafting supplies and get all that organized. In the midst of that I received an unexpected phone call from my regular doctor. She asks how I am doing and I'm thinking she is just checking in to stay up-to-date; then she says, "Have you heard the news?" No... *wondering what it could be*... "Your new wheelchair has been APPROVED!! I couldn't contain my emotions. I began to cry with her on the phone!! I wasn't expecting my last appeal to go through. I was thinking we were still gonna have to keep fighting with insurance, but PRAISE THE LORD, they had a change of heart.

Expected arrival: February 2016


August 21, 2016

One Week Post - Op

Yesterday was one week since new port placement. The pain is a lot better. The tendonitis is also a lot better since getting steroids! I hope I do not have to deal with this again - it made me weak and has been quite painful.

Photo Courtesy of expedia

I received mail yesterday. A card from everyone at Ocoee Eye Center with tickets for my family and me to go to Biltmore Estates. I was soooooo happy - this is one of the items on my bucket list.

Photo Courtesy of Disney


I also had a coffee date with my sis Heather. We tried watching Zootopia but it started skipping really bad. So, we just visited and watched some Netflix.

I will be glad when my incisions heal up and I can be more mobile again. Not looking forward to having my port accessed next week, but maybe it will not be too complicated or painful.

August 16, 2016

Off Week #2 - Great Start (1/10/16) & Happy Days (1/12/16)

This week is off to a great start! Thank you Lord! Still no pain!! I was able to spend the biggest part of the day in my wheelchair which was a plus! Erin spent the afternoon here and then she and T came over with dinner and watched some of the Golden Globes!

I am just so very thankful for the friends I have, as well as my outlook on this journey!

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The past two days have been very good days, with the exception of a couple low points.Yesterday I  spent the biggest part of the day in bed cause it was cold! Tammy came by for a visit, always nice to see her! After she left, I finally got out of bed, but then had to deal with tingling hands - gloves on in the house!

Then at bedtime, I got upset cause we were all just a little frustrated, but hugs and love you's made it all better.

Today, I was able to enjoy the afternoon out. Mom and I ran an errand, then met Emily & Kaylee for a late lunch at O' Charley's... it was good and we all enjoyed!

I spent 3 hours coloring this evening which I always find relaxing! Today's verse is a sweet reminder just to keep trusting in Him to carry me through this journey! That's you God! :)

"He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him." 1 Chronicles 5:29 NIV

August 14, 2016

New Port Placement

Well, I ended up making a trip to the emergency room Friday evening. Not the way I wanted to spend my Mom's birthday, but in this family we do what we have to no matter the day. I had trouble with my port again this week. It would not give a return and also hurt when being flushed. Dr. Tran and the nurses suggested I get it took out that day (8/12), but Dr. Lorenzo was busy. The pain did not get any better throughout the day and I knew I would not be able to tough it out and wait for my original appointment on the 22nd. So, we arrived at Erlanger at about 9 p.m. I had a 2 hour wait in the lobby.. and several more hours after getting in an ER room to get pain medicine. I was to the point I was about to get mad at someone. They kept wanted to go round and round about why  I was there and I explained and kept asking for pain meds. Finally, I was give some Dilaudid and they made the decision to admit me and change out the port on Saturday.

I get into a room at around 3 I guess. Get some decent sleep and stay on top of pain meds and Ativan and sleep through the day until time for surgery at 2:00p.m. I make positively sure that I will be sedated for the procedure(s). The surgeons are very nice. Dr. Lorenzo's partner was on call this weekend so he did everything. I really wanted Dr. Lorenzo to do it, but I was to a point I had to do something. I knew I was not going to make it to my appointment date.

Now to get use to all this again and hope this port works better than the other one. I am very hopeful that it will give good returns and not cause so much discomfort.

My only other issue is my right shoulder, even after having the port taken out my shoulder pain did not subside. We are thinking it is something more along the lines of Bursitis or something now and what sucks about that is I cannot take Iboprofren or Aleve. The only relief I seem to get is rubbing it, ice/heat. So, if you don't mind please pray that this subsides soon because it greatly interferes with daily life.

August 11, 2016

The Day Before - Ehh, Blah, Meh (1/4/16) ~ Round 2 - After (1/9/16)

I do not feel bad today, but I do not feel good either. The title sums up my mood. I am just blue. I know a lot of people love and care about me - I know; but there is still a space I long to fill. The space for love. It has been empty for over 2 1/2 years now... I wish today could be spent with someone cuddled up under my new electric blanket. Quiet and warm!
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This time has been a little bit better. I am still very restless, but that should be passing in a day or so. It makes it tough to rest.

I have been able to eat better this time around. Maybe tomorrow I will feel even more like myself.

I have made the best out of today I do believe! I was able to eat some cereal and enjoyed a game of Scattergories with Mom and Dad! :)

Scan #3 and a Wonderful Weekend

Last Wednesday I had my third CT Scan. I am glad to say it went well, aside from severe shoulder pain that nearly had me in tears.

[I've had shoulder pain for the last several weeks. It got so bad a few weekends ago that I ended up making a trip to the ER to get the pain under control because the medicine I have would not touch it. However, after the scan I prayed that the pain would begin to become tolerable and/or subside and I am glad to say that prayer has been answered].

The doctor kindly called me Thursday with a brief report. Everything is fantastic in regards to my cancer. The lymph node is still stable, and the liver tumor is now 1/2 cm!! Praise the Lord! I also asked that my shoulder be included in this scan, so that maybe we could figure out what was going on with it. It turns out, my jugular vein on the right side is narrowing and there appear to be clots in the catheter. This is why it has been so difficult to get a blood return. We did not get one today, so I had to be pricked in the finger and stuck in the arm.

The plan for the port issue is to remove and replace in on the 22nd. I am a little nervous about this of course, but I know the Lord will carry me through!

Also, last weekend I was suppose to go out of town with friends and see Beth Moore speak in Nashville. She runs Living Proof Ministries. I was really looking forward to this. I have done one of her Bible Studies and it was amazing.. well, what I got to participate in before I got sick! We were also going to explore some of Nashville - it's on my bucket list. I was unable to go because of the previously mentioned shoulder pain and severe constipation.

I was feeling very good Saturday. My shoulder was very tolerable and I had a happy colon. So, Mom and Dad surprised me with a day trip to NC. We went to the new casino, which I found to be a great stress reliever and just a great way to relax. Afterward, we went to Field of the Wood. It was a very calm and peaceful experience.

August 9, 2016

Friends - They're Important (1/2/16) ~ Preparation: Treatment Week 2 (1/3/16)

I have continued to make the absolute best days out of this off week! I've been out of the house a few times and was able to treat myself to a new gadget that will help pass the time on chemo days. I also found great joy in coloring again, it'd been a while.

Most of all, I have found the importance of having friends and why they're a vital part of our lives. They keep us happy, vibrant, abnd full of life. My friends and family have really made this week a blast!

This week has been full of:

JOY!

As long as I have God, family, and my friends I know I will make it through this cause they are all a girl needs!!

God is good through all times in our lives! He loves us through our darkest and makes our bright days brighter!
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I was able to attend church this morning for at least one more time before my immunity lowers too much. I am glad because it was a great way to prepare for the week ahead. Round 2 of treatment begins Tuesday at 8:30.

The sermon this morning was great preparation for being able to trust Him through tough times this week. It was a refreshing reminder that was much needed!

Tonight's verse is also:

All of the struggle will be for good! Romans 8:28

August 4, 2016

Chemo Round 1 - Unexpected Things (12/29/15) ~ Post Chemo - Better Days (12/30/15)

Unexpected things is right! Up until this point I had continued to feel normal. When chemo does hit you it's like you are in a body that is not even yours. You can't edo anything to make things normal. No matter what you try, you just don't feel well.

Also, in my experience it was right before Christmas. (12/22-12/24) So the holiday was a challenge all the way around. Mentally, emotionally, and physically. I enjoyed all the company I had, but it was exhausting at the same time. It was mentally and emotionally draining because my mind and thoughts were going in all different directions. But, I made the best of it as best I was able to and loved all the gifts I received!
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Yesterdays attempt to journal still was not a good one to me. Thoughts were very jumbled still, but I did have a very good day. Very glad that I have been able to enjoy the visitors I've had for the las couple days. Those first few days are just rough, but now I know kind of what to expect and how to get through them. At least next round there is not a big holiday!

I have definitely found and appreciation for the good days no matter how much or little they involve!

August 2, 2016

The Beginning - Port Placement (12/17/15) ~ Not Me - Anxiety/Bad Nerves (12/1/15)


Today really marks the start of my battle against cancer. This afternoon I had the surgery to place my port for chemotherapy. The operation id not take long and I was very comfortable with my medical team.

I am definitely sore; hoping to have that gone by Monday! Having the port will take some getting use to, but I'll do it!

Today's verse is very fitting. (There are Bible verses at the end of each page in my journal). He will/does rescue us! I feel like He is already rescuing me. I know His hand is upon me through this entire journey. He has been preparing me for a while!

What makes everything so peaceful and reassuring is knowing that He loved me enough to prepare me for this journey and I am ready!

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Over the last couple weeks I have noticed (as have others) that I have been a bit more on edge, and more outspoken than normal. I am sure it is a combination of meds and pain. Things that normally wouldn't bother me seem to drive me up the wall; which bothers me even more. I speak before thinking. . . . more than before. However, I can control my nerves, sometimes I have to remind myself it is not just me dealing with this, and that some of the things that bother me, I need to learn to overlook because it is not a big deal. (i.e. a rattling chip bag).

July 28, 2016

Heads Up

Just writing a little heads up post here. My blog is about to get really busy ya'll. I am going to start making scheduled posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

 One is going to be from my personal cancer journal that I keep, so you all have a little more insight on the things I really go through.

The other is going to be my sermon notes from Dr. Charles Stanley (In Touch Ministries) and Joyce Meyer (Enjoying Everyday Life).

I hope all who read these will not only learn from them, but enjoy the sermon posts.

I look forward to gaining more readers through this experiment!

July 23, 2016

The Mind of a Cancer Patient


Today, I want to share with you what it is like inside my mind sometimes...

On Good Days: (Like today) My mined is in a good place. My thoughts are happy and pleasant. On days like this cancer is forgotten about. I have a very thankful heart! I live my life as normal on this days and truly enjoy them! That may consist of being very busy out and about, or enjoying the quiet of my room reading & writing.

On Bad Days: OF course these are the most challenging. They come with many emotions, often mixed. They come with lots of frustration, too. These are the days that are mentally exhausting. I am often very irritable and hard to handle on these days as well. I am quick to snap and people without meaning to. I don't know how I am going to feel from day-to-day. When I don't feel good I find that I wonder what is next a lot... But often find the next day is usually brighter!

So, What do we feel?

Anger & Frustration because we get tired of pain and daily medication routines. They.Get.Old. Pain makes us angry because sometimes we don't know the cause and pain meds don't always help.

Sadness & Uncertainty because we do not know what tomorrow brings. Even so we get up and make the best of everyday. I fine that I personally experience the most sadness when I hear of someone passing from cancer. It shakes my care and boggles my mind for a few days, because one day... but it's one day for everyone and if we know Jesus, then all is well anyway. But, I will be 100% right now, my flesh is not ok with that. Maybe because I am young. Maybe my faith is weak, I don't know, but I pray for peace when that time comes.

Happiness, yep! We have good days. For some they are many, others very few. I am very fortunate to have lots of good days. I make the best of each! Sometimes, I spent them being lazy, most days I try to do sometime fun. I have had a lot of lazy days lately because of the heat!! When I am happy & feeling good cancer is the farthest thing from my mind; and I am so glad I am able to just live, and not have cancer in the forefront. I consider that a blessing!

I hope that by writing this it helps others to understand that this is not just a physical battle, but mental too; and that when I seem snappy I do not always mean it. Often, my mood is effected by the pre-meds I get before chemo & the meds I take daily at home.

July 14, 2016

Chemo Side Effects

The side effects of chemo and how they really effect and interfere with daily life are hard to explain to someone who is not "in it" with you every day, day in and day out.

So, in this blog I am going to make an attempt to explain the side effects I experience and how they affect my daily life.

*Keep in mind this in my own personal experience. Someone else's may be totally different depending upon the type of treatment they are receiving.*

~Numbness and Tingling: I have this sensation in my hands almost all the time as a result of the Oxacilliaplatin. This is one I hoped would go away after stopping that particular drug. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. I still experience this after every cycle and lately it has been lingering into my off weeks. It makes daily tasks a challenge. I do not like the feeling of a wet wash cloth in my hands so that makes showering and bathing difficult. The feeling of the keyboard under my fingertips is sometimes annoying so that is why it has been almost a month since anything has been written in here. I am having to just make myself do my normal things despite this nuisance.

~Fatigue: This is a big one. Sometimes your body just puts the brakes on and you have to rest! I have been known to sleep nearly 3 days, but this is not uncommon/. Chemo is hard on your body so it is important to rest as needed.

~Nausea/Loss of Appetite: This is a very common side effect for many patients. I have been very fortunate and only had mild nausea which Zofran takes care of. But, I know of many who stay sick through treatment.

~Irritability/Restlessness: I don't know about anyone else, but this is another biggy for me. Noise gets on my nerves after chemo, as well as joking around and being silly. Yeah, it's odd but just me. I like still and quiet after treatment. My irritability is not directed at anyone specifically - I just prefer a couple days of quiet unless I feel like doing something. This is also caused by the medications I am on during treatment and at home.

These are just some of the things I have/do experience after treatment and a lot of times they are very frustrating.

June 20, 2016

Sorry... Not Sorry..


Sorry.

We say it when people we love don't feel well, have lost loved ones, are going through tough times. We say it when we don't know what to say to someone because we do not understand their situation.
We say it with the kindest intentions of sympathy and love. We really mean well.

But...

Sometimes, [and this is my own personal opinion] I think we need to work on saying positive words of encouragement in some circumstances.

I have heard "I'm sorry" all my life because of not being able to walk and having to use a wheelchair.. now cancer. Let me say again, I understand when you're not use to being around someone who has a disability or serious illness it is an automatic response meant sympathetically. I really do get it. I do the same.

However, sometimes, the word/words strike a cord with me that is uncomfortable.

Why?

Because I have never been sorry for anything I have endured in my life. Yes, I was born early and have Cerebral Palsy which results in me having to use a wheelchair. Am I sorry because of this? Not at all. I have nothing to be sorry for. It is just the way I was made and there is a purpose for it. Yes, I was diagnosed with cancer 8 months ago. Does it suck? Yes. Am I sorry? Not at all, because again there is a reason for it; and as I have said before it has brought me JOY. I cannot be sorry about something that has brought joy to my life - no matter what I have to endure.

No, chemo is not always fun. There are side effects that I do not like dealing with. Ya know what? Tough cookies. I have to. I am thankful for it because it is keeping my cancer stable and allowing me to still live my life to the fullest and I thank the Lord for that. I am not sorry that I have to endure these things.

I am thankful for the surgeries I have been through that have helped me be able to grow as a child without major physical complications.

I am thankful for my wheelchair because it allows me to be independent and mobile.

I am just thankful, for everything.

Instead of saying "I'm sorry," what else might you say to show sympathy or encourage someone?

June 13, 2016

Same Life, New Story: Abagail

Abagail

I know I need to overcome my fear of living with cancer by taking these first steps forward in my life...


1). Accepting this as my new normal way of life. Learning to see cancer as a chronic illness, (think of something like diabetes). A person with diabetes has to take insulin to maintain his or her life. My chemo treatments will be very similar. They will help manage mine.

2). Trusting God will continue to see me through. Also, He will continue to bless me and help me bless others with my story. I also cannot forget to thank Him; because He has made this time in my life full of joy. Even on my worst days, I find something to be happy about. I realize I have been blessed greatly because treatment has not made me sick. I am still very healthy. Essentially, I have a disease you cannot see. (Think of someone with chronic pain/fibromyalgia). How do I feel about it? At first, I will not sure, but with each passing day it gets a little easier. I know the best thing to do isa to keep living positively.

3). Be open about thoughts and feelings. It is very important to share things instead of keeping them bottled up inside. Being open gives others the chance to help you and also may help relieve stress and tension in your own body.

June 9, 2016

Reality Is...

Reality is...

Life does not go as you plan  or sometimes even think it will. I know that my own personal reality has changed over the last few weeks, and I am still coming to terms with/learning to accept it. 

I went over it briefly in my last post - and it seems that I was or even, am okay with it.. I am, but yet I am not. Things can change, and they can change quickly. Mentally, I have spent the last few weeks wondering how long this current chemo regimen will work for me.. no one can answer that. No one knows, but God. It is a challenge to live with so much uncertainty medically. Have I considered a second opinion? Sure. Will I get one? Maybe. 

Let me give you an example of a bad day, and how quickly things can change...

I awoke yesterday morning and took my AM medicines as I always do - which has included a Zofran for the last few days due to some slight nausea. Unfortunately, the Zofran did not have time to work and I threw up everything I had just taken within 15-20 minutes. Right then, my plans for the entire day changed. Instead of writing and going to Bible Study as I had planned to do; I spent the day resting. (Which happened to be an answered prayer for my dear friend Sara at: The Messy Mrs). I'm thankful for that... even though it was not a pretty day inside my mind, I knew to be still and rest.

Uncertainty is hard to live with ya'll, and it is something that I face everyday as a human in the flesh. Do I wish I could have had surgery and possibly been able to close this chapter in my life? Of course. That was my plan, it was my doctors, but it was not God's. You may think, "It should be easy for you to accept God's plan if you believe.." I get that, but the truth is it is not always easy to accept His plan even though we know He has our best interest at heart all the time. I am human, and that part of me wishes that things were different right now.

But they aren't. They are what God intended them to be, not me. Maybe that is why I have tolerated treatment and responded so well, because He knew what lay ahead before I even got here. Maybe that is why it has brought me such joy and afforded me the opportunity of a job, because He wanted me to have true happiness in Him and more meaning to my life than He has already given me. For all this, I am very thankful.

Reality is...
Medicine, God is in control, and He is NOT DONE yet!



May 27, 2016

Where We Are: My New Normal...

I know I have been rather quiet on here about what has been going on in my life since I began posting about the Bible Study. I apologize as I know there are some who get updates from here; and some of you simply like the way I write.

In my last post I mentioned I would be taking a break from chemo to prepare for surgery and that would be discussed with Dr. Lorenzo during the next visit on 5/12. The appointment has come and gone, but it did not go as we were expecting -- (discussion of how the operation would be done and what recovery would be like). Instead, we discussed why surgery was not my best option. Obviously, this not what I was prepared to talk about, but was very comforted by the doctor in the confidence she displayed and her words.

It turns out the spot in my lower left pelvis is only one lymph node that is cancerous. It cannot be removed surgically safely because of the location. Dr. Lorenzo said if she did go in and remove it that I likely would not be able to sit on my bottom anymore and the pain would be unbearable. Basically, it comes down to continuing to have a good quality of life, which would not be with surgery. I would also need chemo even after surgery. So, why cause unnecessary pain and diminish quality of life when what we have been doing is still working? Surgery was pointless, really.

So where are we? We are now in the maintenance phase of my care. I will always be on some form of chemo from here on out. This has been tough to process and accept this week. Dr. Tran was basically on the same page as Dr. L... so I knew what to expect at my appointment Wed., but that did not make it any easier. Each day does get a little easier though. Basically, my cancer is being treated as a chronic illness (think diabetes or fibro) and being managed with the chemo.

I know I am not the author of my story. God is. His plan is greater and better than anything I think I should be doing in my life. I am already seeing why His plan is greater. First and foremost, I can still live my life to its fullest potential and do not have to spend it in my hospital bed because I am not able to sit up. I have also been given an opportunity to have a job one day a week; something I did not think would ever happen in my life... but... God had better plans!

May 17, 2016

Same Life, New Story: Jehosheba

Jehosheba

The action I most need to take in my life that will require wisdom and courage is...

To keep fighting. It takes a lot of wisdom and courage. Wisdom to know God does not make mistakes, and will carry us through whatever He brings us to. Sometimes it is hard to TRUST, but it's what I have to do!

Courage has been a part of this journey since the beginning. Sometimes it is hard to be courageous and upbeat. I have learned it is OK to have moments and cry when I need to. Cause sometimes it is very overwhelming on the mind. Those are the times where trust comes in.

April 28, 2016

Same Life, New Story: Anna

Anna

The biggest what-might-have-been I need to eliminate in my life is...

Well, let's just be honest here shall we...

What if I did not have cancer at 31 years old?

I would not appreciate life the way I do now; one moment at a time. I probably would still be looking to go out every weekend to listen to a band, still searching for that person to fill my hearts void in all the wrong places. I would still be a very restless person.

But, just like Anna I am slowly learning how to content myself until that void is filled in my life. What is it being filled with now, you ask? God. I have learned that if I do not keep Him and His Word in my mind and heart that is when I begin to have anxious thoughts and is often when I feel the most loneliness.

I am going to be real again; being single and fighting cancer has been a tough fight all its own. I have often thought to myself if that would ever happen again, because now not only am I in a wheelchair, but I also have cancer - 2 strikes from being out for some (just being honest)...

That is when I have finally learned to fill that empty filling with God and His promises, and if it be His will, He will fulfill the desire of my heart with a Godly man. For now, I will continue learning and growing in Him like /Anna did. I will not let Satan get in the way and steal the joy I have found.

If you are living in a past of "what-ifs" bring yourself into the "what-is" with God at the forefront and He will lead you into your future of "what-will-be", and you won't be left to wander!

Same Life, New Story: Hannah

Hannah

The constant drama in my life centers around cancer (who?), and I can begin to delete that destructive drama by...

My entry today is not about a person like Hannah had to deal with (though I have encountered such people in my life and had to rid myself and life of them).

My current drama comes from cancer. As I have wrote about in a past blog; I found out just before Thanksgiving and began treatment the week of Christmas. So, as you may expect, the holidays last year were tough. I did not feel like myself and can honestly say I did not enjoy them like I wanted to because I was too busy having thoughts of "What if..." How could I not?!?

Cancer brings drama with it just the same as a person who is not happy with his/her life.

How?
  • It does not care about you!
  • Causes intense pain, requiring strong meds.
  • Also known to cause blood clots.
  • Extreme tiredness and fatigue.
  • Nausea.
  • Low WBC counts (low immunity).
  • Numerous tests.
  • Harsh treatments (chemo and/or radiation).
A person who is always unhappy will always try to bring another down. Cancer has tried to bring me down and steal my joy to no avail. Instead, it has created my greatest joy; living and loving life! 

Unlike toxic people, I cannot delete cancer from my life. I have had to learn to trust God's will through this and just know He is in control. That has not always been easy because there are parts of this journey that I will never understand, and that is okay. Just like we don't always understand people like Penninah.

But, it is our job to be strong and stand up against those who think they can tear us down. God instilled in me a strong power to fight and make it.

Always have. Always will.

Cancer is Tiring


This is how I have felt for the last couple weeks even though things have been going so well and I have received good reports. I have just been tired. I am thankful to be getting four week break from chemo. That will give me plenty of down time to regroup. My last treatment was just exhausting. I could not do anything that weekend but sleep, and then last weekend I ended up having sinus trouble, which again made me tired.

I have had a very busy couple of weeks medically; preparing for possible surgery. I had an Anoscopy done last Thursday (4/21). Everything turned out great. Dr. Lorenzo could not find the rectal tumor, only a scar there. Tuesday (4/26) I had a CT-guided biopsy of my lower left pelvis - those results are still pending. Hopefully, they come back benign and it is something that can just be removed. Monday, (5/2) I go back to the hospital for a Cystoscopy. After all results are in from these tests I will go back to Dr. Lorenzo and further discuss surgery.

I do have some more good news to post. Starting this week I have a 4 week break from chemo. This is also in preparation for surgery. I am glad to have the break because I can get caught up on more rest and also enjoy things without so much worry. It will be nice.

However, the title of this post is true. Cancer is very tiring... there are things that come with it that just make you tired such as Cancer Related Fatigue. I know some of the things I post about on Facebook and here may seem like a joke, but they are definitely real. The fatigue hits without warning like a ton of bricks. There is no stopping it. Thankfully, it's only happened a couple times.

No matter how tired I get, and how much I don't want to.. I will always keep fighting!

April 21, 2016

Same Life, New Story: Deborah

Deborah

The biggest "I can't" in my life that I want to change to an "I can" is...

Fighting cancer. There are some days I wish I did not know. But that seems unfair to others, and I would not appreciate life the way I do. I am thankful for that because it has brought me great joy. I make the best of every day even when I do not feel good, because I can.

Each day is an opportunity, the choice is ours as to what we do with it. 

The same is true with my cancer journey. I can be sad and bahumbug about it, or I can not let it drag me down and be a light for others. I chose the latter when I found out about my cancer because I didn't want others feeling sorry for me and showing pity. I think I do fairly well at keeping a "Can do" attitude. It is very important to keep good positive company to ensure that as well. Having "I can't, I don't want to" days happen, but we must not let them take over our story.

"God uses the unlikely to accomplish the impossible." ~ Jan Silvious

Same Life, New Story: Rahab

Rahab

Based on the story of Rahab, I believe I can begin my new story because...

I believe. I believe we all have our chance to make our wrongs right for a better tomorrow. We just have to take that chance while there is still time. Rahab did. She believed that God would spare her and her family through the battle; He did. So, Rahab was able to give up her past of being a harlot and begin a new life with God. We are all given that same opportunity through Christ if we take it.

Also, in this chapter Jan notes the importance of asking yourself how people and situations are going to affect your story you are writing. There have been many times in my adult life that I could have missed out on a lot of trouble and hurt feelings if I had truly listened when others were right, and not been so bull headed. I have finally started seeing the importance of evaluating people and situations in my life since I started this journey last November. I no longer have time for drama or just having someone around for the heck of it, or at their convenience. You're either in it with me or not, your choice.

I have also learned what God takes from you, He replaces with something far better just as He did for Rahab. There have been people and situations removed from my life in recent years and because of that, He has been able to bless my life in ways I would have never dreamed of. I know what the meaning of a true friend is and what it means to be a true friend. I know how to trust that His will is far greater than my own.

April 14, 2016

Same Life, New Story: Leah

Leah

I would like to change the theme of my life because...

I want people to see a true change in me. I also do not want to feel like I am trying to ride both sides of the fence either. You see, before I decided to fully give up control of my life, (and I struggle still for Him to have control daily)... I was living two different ways. I would spend the week making plans to see a band in a bar on Friday or Saturday and then get up and go to church on Sunday. I lived this way for two years. Finally, I woke up one day and knew I had a choice to make. I had to live one way or the other. I chose to quit going to bars, and to start reading the Bible. I also became active in church. I had wanted this for a long time, but would not allow myself to let go. I still wanted to do what I thought was fun and enjoyable. I soon found out the fun and joy of those late nights were not memories that would be worth talking about for years to come. They were just fun for that time.

When I began to let God have control I started to notice a change in myself and my relationships with others. I have become a much happier person. I have experienced things over the last year that are memories worth talking about. I have made many a new friend through church, and love that we can talk about Jesus and what He has done in our lives.

Having Jesus in my life has made this cancer journey a more joyous time in my life. i know it would be totally different without Him! It would be a dark and lonely road.

It is my hope that my light for Christ shines bright and He can be seen through me. I want His joy to be the theme of my life. In a way, I guess you could say joy has been the theme of my life since this journey began. I've even said, I am one of the happiest people I know with cancer, and I intend to stay that way to the best of my ability throughout this journey!

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

Same Life, New Story: Naomi



Same Life New Story (SLNS) by Jan Sillvious is a 10 week Bible Study for women the ladies at Birchwood Baptist are currently reading. A dear friend kindly bought the book for me so I could read and study/journal along with them. So far I love this book and the journaling that goes with it, and I am glad to share it here as well! I hope you enjoy!!

Naomi

I know the time has come in my life for me to leave my old story behind and begin a new one because...

The Lord got my attention with a quickness and shook me to my core. On November 23, 2015 I was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. When I heard the words and really let them sink in, my mind went numb for a few moments. Just like everyone else I did not want to believe it. However, I knew I was going to have to be strong and positive, not just for me but my family too.

So, I quickly adopted the phrase and mental-knowing that God goes before me. He knew this was going to take place in my life and He does not give us more than we can handle. He gave me a strong will for a reason, and this just happens to be one of them.

Unlike Naomi, who turned bitter and angry with God; I have let this chapter become one of great joy in Him. I know He is working in me. He is reaching others through this and I have learned to enjoy and appreciate every moment of life!!

Do not be afraid or discouraged for he Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail nor abandon you. Deut. 31:8




March 17, 2016

Foreigner

I have been feeling really good lately even after treatments. A few weeks ago Mom and I were running an errand and I heard on the radio that Foreigner was going to be at the Tivoli that night and the show was not yet sold out. I immediately got on the phone with my buddy Erin and asked her if she wanted to go with it. She did. I came straight home and purchased the tickets. A couple minutes later the show was sold out.

When I was purchasing the tickets, I asked the lady on the line if I would for sure be able to see from my seat. She assured me that I would and I went through with the purchase. When the show started, it was a different story. I could not see anything for the people standing up. This was upsetting to both Erin and I. She asked one of the employees if we could just get our money back because I could not see the show and it was not worth it. They politely asked us to hang on a moment they were going to get someone. A few moments later a gentleman came to us and said, "Follow me. I am going to move you to the front." He moved us right to the stage!!!

We had an amazing time after that. All of the band members came up to us and rocked out. The lead singer even grabbed my hand twice. ;) I started not to go to the show because I was worried about my counts and catching something, but I am so glad we went and had such a great time. After all, life is all about LIVING!!!

I know you've been waiting... here are pictures:












Next on the list as long as I will be able to see and nothing gets in the way, ZZ TOP!

Love and Hugs,
Crystal

March 14, 2016

Health Update & Loving Life

Well, it has been nearly a month since I have wrote here. I did not realize it had been that long. I have lots to update about!

First, I want to give an update about my health. Everything is going well. My tumor markers are down in the NORMAL range. This is a good thing. I do not know how to explain what tumor markers are, other than to say that they are found in your blood, and everyone has them but it does not mean that you have cancer. Only when they are elevated does it raise the question of such. However, this does not mean that my cancer is gone just because mine are in the normal range. It does mean that there is shrinkage.

I have two scans left and then will be having a scan. After the scan I will discuss what is next with my doctor. I am believing that there will be nothing on the scan. I know God is capable of this and that if it is His will in my life it will be so. As a matter of fact, I went to Perry Stone's church in Cleveland with my cousin last week to hear him preach and at the end of the service there was a prayer line. When it began to form, I became overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry, (I do this when I know the Spirit is near). I had told my cousin before the service that I did not want to go through the prayer line.. but let me tell you.. you can't ignore that "tug" and I didn't. The closer we got to the beginning of the line the more Peace I felt. Perry asked for healing of cancer and even prayed with me personally not knowing my diagnosis. I am certain something happened that night for all of us there. God is going to do something big. He is doing something big. He is making my testimony bigger everyday!

I am so blessed, even through this battle. I told someone the other day that I had to be one of the happiest people I knew that had been told they had cancer and I am. I still love life but I love it even more than I did before November 23, 2015. I love spending time with mom and dad at night watching tv before bed. I love riding the backroads with my sister on warm sunny days. Lunch with friends. Phone calls. Texts. Vists. I could go on and on... everything means so much more than it use to. I have learned to live everyday and I am so thankful. If you have not learned how, I hope you do.. because it is truly a life changing experience. I do not take the little things for-granted anymore. I cherish them.

You should too.

Love and Hugs,
Crystal

February 15, 2016

My Very Best Friend



Cassie. My very best friend. Thirty years of friendship. Lives that have somehow always connected and paralled throughout the years. From little girls who loved to play Nintendo for hours on end, to teenagers with an interest in piano and music, and silly boys, to adults who have amazingly fought through similar hard times, one of mine being now when yours was many years ago.

Where would I be without you? Right now, I truly do not know. I couldn't tell you. You're the only person that gets everything I feel and everything I think right now. Everyone tries of course, but they just can't unless they have been here. It's not possible to completely understand. I am so thankful that you do and that you can, because there are days that you are my God send and I think He knows that just as well, I really do.

Though I fight through loneliness, it is a great comfort knowing that you get it all, completely 100% and that my feelings are never invalid. I am thankful that in the beginning I could call you and cry and have feelings of uncertainty... and I am even more thankful that I can call you now and talk about the good things and where things should go from here.

We've been through a lot together, good and bad. I will never forget when you got your DX and you called me and asked me how I dealt with my life everyday living with CP and being in a wheelchair overcoming obstacles all the time. I just did, being strong is all I knew then and it is all I know now. Just like before we are in this together and I thank you so much for being my rock. You knew what you were doing when you chose your profession, and I think God knew also that I'd need you like I do. I would need someone who not only knew exactly what I was going through, but could also give me a little insight and comfort.

I thank God that you are who you are, and you do what you do. I am also thankful that you have always challenged me over the years even when I don't like it and we disagree. We make each other think and we love each other through it all.

I love you Cass, thank you for being, my very best friend.

Love and Hugs,
Crystal

February 14, 2016

The Heart is A Lonely Hunter


...not to be confused with the Reba McEntire song, or whatever book is out there.

The heart can definitely be a lonely hunter. It longs and yearns to be filled with love and able to return that especially to the love of your life.

I have been single for 3 years. It has not been a bad experience. I have learned a lot about myself and grown more as an individual during this time.

However, if you read my blog regularly you know that my life took a very different turn about 3 1/2 months ago with the diagnosis of cancer. During this time I have experienced many emotions and thoughts. The one that seems to hang on with a grip is loneliness. The further I have gotten into treatment, the more lonely I seem to become. Let me make it clear [before someone jumps ahead of themselves]... I am NOT depressed. I am still a very happy and positive person, just very lonely. Now you're wondering, "Why in the world would she be lonely so many people just love her." Yes, this is very true and I am well aware of this fact. However, it is not the same as having a special someone to go through this with.

I really do not know how to put it into words even in a hand written journal. I am just simply lonely. I long very deeply for love again. While I am very comforted by people, having someone special to walk through this time in my life would be of even more comfort. There is a calm that comes about when you have that special hand to hold and know they're going to be there with you through the good and the bad.

I am almost clueless as to how to remedy this for myself. I have tried every thing I know. I am even on Christian Mingle which has not proven to be of any help thus far. I know people are scared knowing I have the diagnosis I do, we're human I expect it. Things are going well now, and I am ready to move along in life - even if it's just talking to someone getting to know them. I do no expect love overnight, who in their right mind would?! Just being able to take the step in getting to know someone would be huge right now.

If you could stand to read this far, thank you.

Love & Hugs,
Crystal

February 12, 2016

Good News & New Wheels


Last week, I wrote about having to have a CT this week (Wed). I had been anxious about said scan for a few weeks. Waking up some mornings crying, wondering if everything was really working, if everything was really as good as it seemed to be. Feeling in essence, like my life was on a timeline. Battling loneliness that no one can fill but that special someone.

Well, I am happy to write that I have good news this week. I had trouble the morning of the scan, my port would not give a blood return so finally I just let them stick me with an IV to run the contrast dye. That was not pleasant either. I had to be stuck 3 times, it was very frustrating, but as always I was the cooperative patient and didn't go off on them even though in my mind I really wanted to! Dad and I went to Denny's afterward for breakfast because I was starving. I couldn't have anything to eat or drink that morning. That afternoon, I was sitting at my desk and the phone rang.. it was TN Oncology. I started not to answer cause it was odd to get a call from them in the early afternoon. I picked up the phone and said, "Hello..." ..."Yes, Crystal this is __________ from TN Oncology I have the results of your CT scan." "Okay..." "You're responding nicely, I will discuss with you further when you come in." I hang up and have a well deserved sigh of relief.

Thursday was also a big day. I got to pick up my new wheels that I fought so hard for. It took 2 regular appeals and one emergency appeal to get it approved. I remember getting a phone call a few weeks ago telling me it had been approved. I cried like a baby. I have wanted a sports chair for a very long time and all my hard work paid off to get it.




The two gentlemen in this photo are Thomas Henley, and Greg Monk. They have been a blessing to my family for the last 29-30 years, helping us in any way they can. I am proud to say I was one of their very first clients.. and remember my very first chair I received from them. It was red just like my old one. I have to say though, by far this new chair is my favorite. It is going to take some getting use to, but nothing I can't master. I mean, if cancer can't even bring me down how can some new wheels? Ha!

Seriously, if you need assistance getting your child/loved one a wheelchair, walker, stander, etc. and have Medicaid go see these guys. They are amazing and truly care about the people they serve. They are not just guys trying to sell you something to make a profit. They genuinely want to get to know their clients on a first name basis and learn all they can about each individuals needs. If you meet them, you'll become fast friends, and before you know it they will be like family!