Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Last Supper

We used to go out to dinner to celebrate each of our birthdays every year. But once M4 came along, that meant six nice dinners over the course of every twelve months. It became difficult to fit into our budget and our schedule. So we devised a plan to go out to one really nice dinner once a year and celebrate all our birthdays together.

Since I am having surgery tomorrow and starting chemo the next day, we decided to make tonight the night. Who knows when I will feel like eating again?

We went to our favorite restaurant, Taste of Texas. Here's our "birthday picture":

It had been a long day of tests and doctor's appointments and pre-op (with a respite lunch with my dear friend, Robbie).

I was very happy to see my family when they walked into the restaurant this evening. Throughout the evening I felt myself becoming a little melancholy about the unknown of the months to come, the loss of "normal", and being separated from my children and husband more than we ever have been before. There are going to be hard times in the days to come. But I am determined to face it with good humor and optimism.

Thankfully, it was nothing a little creme brulee' couldn't overcome, at least for tonight.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hang On To Your Hats

We're going into high gear this week.

Don and I saw Dr. M (do you see a pattern here?) today. Her plan for treatment matched up with what we have been told is the best treatment for my type of cancer. We felt like this was going to be the main indicator of whether or not to proceed with her. Again, we really did not feel we had time to wait for MD Anderson to get us in (although we played phone tag with the scheduler there today).

Dr. M said it is difficult to "stage" blood cancers, but based on the size of my tumor (which is now considered "bulky" because it is greater than 10 cm in size) and the fact that it is invading surround tissue (namely, my heart), she is calling it stage 4.

SO, this is the plan:

Tomorrow (Tuesday), I go in for an echocardiogram (ultrasound of my heart). In the afternoon, I will meet with the surgeon who will put in the port for my chemo. This is basically an under-the-skin IV that should point straight at my tumor or pretty close. So when I have chemo, they don't have to start an IV every time.

Wednesday, I will have the port put in during some sort of outpatient procedure with the above mentioned surgeon.

Thursday, I get my first "round" of chemo. It should take all day. And, they will send me home with one drug on a pump for 24 hours. This particular drug is hard on your heart, so they give it really slowly to (hopefully) lessen the effect.

The long-term plan is for 6 to 8 rounds of chemo followed by radiation (not sure how many of those). Generally, in my type of cancer, the tumor is gone after 3 to 4 rounds. (It grows fast. It dies fast.)

According to the nurse today I should not feel too bad until NEXT week. We are hoping this is true because we still have some sorting and adjusting to do in our lives.

Thank you to all of you who have volunteered to help. We are working on a plan. I will get back to you on that one - hopefully in the next few days.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Those of you that know me and have seen me these days might like an explanation.

I'm not sad or scared or even a little worried (at least today). Instead, I'm downright happy.

Before you start thinking about a little padded room, let me explain:

Last year, when we were told the baby we were expecting would die, we were devestated.

But as we sat there in the ultrasound room, God came alongside me and began to dwell WITH me. What I was incapable of doing anymore on my own - EVERYTHING - He carried me through.

I would never have CHOSEN to live through burying a child, but I wouldn't trade the experience for the world because of the tangible presence of the Lord in those days.

By no means do I miss the crushing grief and heartache, but I have longed to feel HIS PRESENCE again even though I know He is always with me.

I guess I've become a sort of like a junkie. Once you experience His presence, you can never have enough. The trouble is, you only truly get it when the really hard times come.

So, as I have walked this path so far, I have looked forward in anticipation. To either as short illness or a good, long walk with the God I love. And since it is looking like it is going to be a long walk, I am at peace, knowing that He is there.

The LORD YOUR GOD is WITH YOU . . .Zephaniah 3:17

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pages of a Book

The final report is back and it is definitely Large b-cell Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

The good news about this is that it is fairly common and easily treatable (from what we understand). Which is encouraging to us.

The name of a doctor keeps coming up over and over and we feel led that she is the one to see right now. Not only because of her high recommendation, but because we can get in next Monday.

I have been amazed by the responses I have received from people as we have been "networking" every area of our lives, past and present, seeking advice and assistance in our decisions.

My husband profoundly said, "Our life is like a book and the people we meet along the way are the pages. As time passes you turn to new pages, but the previous pages are still there."

I have revisited a lot of those pages this week. It is a really good read.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The "C" Word

Growing up there were many things I looked forward to saying:

"I have a new car!"

"I am graduating!"

"I am getting married!"

"We're buying a new house!"

"We're going to have a baby! And another! And another! And another! And another!"

But never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be saying:

"I have cancer . . ."

What's next?

"I am a SURVIVOR!"

I just talked with the doctor's office late this afternoon. The doctor said the final report is not in yet, but he received a preliminary "verbal" report from the pathologist that he (my doctor) considers to be 90-95% sure.

The diagnosis (which will be finalized tomorrow) is b-cell Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It is a type of cancer of the lymph system. It can happen anywhere in your body where you have lymph glands, and mine just happened to take up residence in my chest. According to one of Don's good friends/former boss who had Non-Hodgkins, the b-cell type is faster moving, but also more curable. I personally haven't done a lot of research on it yet, so that's about all I can tell you.

He went ahead and told me so that Don and I could be discussing our options and talking with others about who to see (an oncologist) and where.

Obviously, this is not what we hoped to hear, but we realized it was not out of the realm of possibility.

Please pray for Don and me as we make decisions regarding treatment. And for our kids, that they will be able to cope with whatever is to come.

Thanks for being there.

I am sure I will need you all more now than ever,

Saturday, September 20, 2008


While we have had very little after-effects on the homefront from Hurricane Ike, the medical process has definitely slowed to a snail's pace. At least that's what it feels like.

Currently, we are in "waiting-mode" for the results from my lung biopsy done last Wednesday.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4: 6-7

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Biopsy done

The biopsy went well. I was in by 7:30 and out by 1 p.m.

We should have results of something by hopefully Friday.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Moving right along

Thank you for your prayers. God has answered and what started out as a biopsy Friday morning has turned into tomorrow morning!! I guess when you get hysterical, you sort of sound like an emergency :)

While this is not the answer to all of my problems, I am just glad to keep things moving right now.

Thank you, thank you, SO MUCH for praying!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Please Pray

I spent the day trying to get my biopsy scheduled. Calling the hospital every hour after talking with the scheduler at 7:30 this morning.

I could feel myself gradually losing it all day today. All of my energy has been used this weekend to make it until today. To KNOW that the biopsy is scheduled and that we continue to move forward. Having to survive the weekend through a hurricane is bad enough on its own.

Finally, at 4 o'clock, I got through to the scheduler again. He said they wouldn't be scheduling elective procedures until at least next week. (My hospital along with most hospitals in the area are not scheduling elective procedures due to the post-hurricane damage/city-wide power outage.) They are only doing emergency procedures. I asked him what my other options were. He said I really didn't have any (to which I said, "become an emergency?)

I called the doctor's office back and completely lost it. I told her I would go to another city, but I couldn't wait until next week. She said she would call and talk to the doctor. Don came home and found me in a state of hysteria and talked with them again.

Please pray that I can get in somewhere in the next few days.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Hurricanes make beautiful sunsets

Taken at around 8 p.m. as the hurricane headed into town.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's bigger, it's bad, and you need a biopsy

That about sums it up, folks.

It wasn't a surprise to hear those words from my doctor's office today.

We came home with a copy of the old and new CT scans. Dr. Don (he really is a PhD) and Dr. Molly (I can only really claim being a nurse) "read" the scans ourselves "in the comfort of our own home". And if it was obvious to us that it was bigger, it must have been bigger.

Don was actually upset at me for my "golf ball" comparison. He says it looks more like a tennis ball. I think he is probably right.

The doctor's office is sending in the order for a biopsy. But with Hurricane Ike on its way, it will be next week before we get in.

The strange thing is that, all-in-all, I feel better. I can't really explain it. Because I was feeling better, I was fairly confident that the mass would be smaller or gone. But I can't say that I am completely surprised that it is still there.

Thank you guys for praying for me. I am totally at peace.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I am healed (it's not what you think)

Amy, a friend of mine at church, made a comment to me on Sunday. She told me I looked better than I have in a LONG time. She referred how I looked better than I have, really, since we lost Michael (M5). That was a year and a half ago.

WOW. People must have become accustomed to a new "look" about me since then.

It is true, losing Michael, for me, did indeed age me. I was weary and worn. I didn't doubt God's hand in it for one single minute, but it was still a heavy loss for me to bear.

There were times where I would see a baby who would be about his age, hear a song that reminded me of him, or I would just miss him and I would feel like my heart was literally being ripped from my chest. It was painful.

I would cry out to God to heal my broken heart. There are four kids here on earth who need me to be their mother, too. I couldn't understand why I couldn't let go.

Maybe it was a choice, maybe not. I really FELT like I was trying to let him go.

Amy's comment has stuck with me for the last several days, playing over and over in my mind. I believed her, but just attributed it to the "antibiotics" doing their job. What was the significance in her words that I couldn't shake?

Today it hit me: I am healed. I made it through Michael's due date without a single tear. The songs don't hurt. Babies are cute again. God has answered my prayer and healed my broken heart! And not only is it on the inside, but visible in my countenance as well.

When He woke me up the other night and told me to praise Him for healing me - this was it!! Praise You, God, for healing me!!

As for this other thing in my chest, that is snuggled up next to my heart, we will see about it tomorrow. That is when I get my repeat CT scan.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Beautiful September

Fall is my favorite season. I will look for any excuse to be outside when the weather turns cool, even for only a few days at a time. Normally, that would mean a project of some kind (hopefully involving power tools!)but my health is such right now that I can't even enjoy my usual walks around the lake with our dog, Feller. So, instead, we are making the backyard a paradise for birds and being rewarded greatly for it!

At the first hint of cool mornings I always put out the hummingbird feeders. Here in Texas we only get to enjoy them for a few weeks in the spring and fall and I don't want to miss a day of it.

Our seed feeders attract an odd assortment of native and TROPICAL birds. We have the usual sparrows, doves, grackles, cardinals and chickadees. And then comes the SQUAWKING.

We have a "colony" of monk parakeets that live in the trees on the street just behind us. They really love fruit and sunflower seeds. They will dig through the entire feeder of seed, dumping it on the ground, looking for the sunflower seeds.

It seems that the monk parakeets have taken in some stray Budgie parakeets (the little pet kind), too. So, we have some wild, pet birds?

We spend hours on the porch in the morning, listening, watching, laughing at the birds. M2 and M3 are both studying birds in Science, and what better way to learn than by observation and experience!

Here are some pictures of our friends (that's M2 sitting with the hummingbirds):

Sorry they are not in better focus. I guess I should have used one of Don's cameras!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Michael would be one today

I had a TB skin test on Tuesday which is completely negative today. I was planning on going "into town" to see the doctor and have it read, but glad that they let me tell them over the phone.

Mostly, I wanted to go visit M5's grave. He was due a year ago today.

This time last year, I was sobbing with my mother at his grave saying that this wasn't where I was supposed to be today. I was supposed to be at the hospital. (My kiddos never wanted to leave the comfort of their Mama. I had to be induced EVERY time.)

My parents left and took M3 and M4 with them. Leaving me to wonder, "What should I do now?"

I asked God and He led me to go to the place I should have been - the hospital.

My doctor delivered all five of my babies, so she has become a friend as well as physician. I sneaked into her office and said hello. That I should have been seeing her today. So I thought I would come see her anyway. It felt good to see her.

I went and tried to see the nurse who cared for me the first day of my induction with M5. She was truly an angel sent by God. I found out she no longer was working there. It is my hope that she is staying home with her daughter now.

An anniversary was deserving of a momento, so I found a gift for myself. A reminder of my precious angel son.

I was led to buy a baby outfit for a little girl. Months later I would give it to a single mother, giving birth to her second daughter, with the message of how precious life really is.

But today, I don't make it to the gravesite. I will go sometime between now and next week (his REAL due date). But you are in my thoughts my precious son.