Saturday, February 16, 2019

Facing the Fear of Chemo

Facing the fear of Chemo has been a difficult journey that has taken me through many emotions. I will not claim that I have overcome my fear in the least, but I am moving forward each day in spite of my fear. 

My first treatment was scheduled for last Tuesday. It was a difficult morning waiting for my appointment time. I was so nervous I couldn't eat breakfast. My friend Janie took me to the hospital and walked me to my room. Because of the small quarters, there was no room for Janie to stay beside me. As she walked out, I was left in a room full of strangers to face the biggest fear in my journey...chemo.

Funny how there seems to be some sort of strength that comes with having a friend by your side; you know, that person who understands how you feel and knows what you're thinking. I am blessed to have many friends and family that meet this description in my life, but not one of them could be there at that moment.

Part of facing my fear of chemo has been learning to hold fast to my faith and trusting the Lord more than ever before. I had no one around me to lean on but the Lord and nothing to hold on to but my faith. I began quoting the Psalms that have given me strength over the past weeks. Lord, You are my Shepherd and although I may be walking through this valley, You are with me Ps. 23. Lord, You are my Light and my Salvation of whom shall I be afraid? Ps 27. Lord, You have created me and made me, You know my heart and the emotions I feel because You know my inward parts, I trust You with my life. Ps. 139. 

As treatment started I thought it would be a good idea to do some work, so I pulled out my computer. It took my mind off the process and allowed me to concentrate on new tasks for my future. However, while receiving the second round of medicine, my body reacted and I became sick. My nurse, who is absolutely fantastic, turned off my medicine for almost an hour so that I could somewhat recover. She lowered the rate of injection and finished out my first round of chemo much later than expected.

I have been sick all week but each day feeling a bit better than the day before. With the help of my husband, I'm learning how to eat and what my body needs to stay strong during chemo. God is teaching me how to put on His Armor and stand in the midst of adversity. I am thankful that God has not removed the pain and suffering of this illness from me, because through the pain and suffering, I am learning things from Him that will be with me on the other side of this trial.

Whatever trial you may be going through, I pray that you will find the life lessons that will be with you on the other side; those things that will benefit you beyond your adversity. 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Gleaning From Cancer

It's been almost a month since I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Triple Negative Ductal Carcinoma Breast Cancer. The doctor said that I would have 3 to 6 months of chemo before surgery would be discussed. There is no other option but chemo. When I found out I had cancer, I cried; when I found out chemo was my cure, I sobbed.
I had many women doing their best to encourage me that chemo was going to be fine...that I would do great...and that I had nothing to fear. I was told many stories of other survivors and miracles that happened along the way. However, it didn't change anything for me.

I have been diligently seeking a cure that did not involve chemotherapy. The first thing I did was change my diet to predominantly plant-based foods. I found supplements that would help boost my immune system. I researched alternative medicines that had a proven track record for killing cancer.

I went to a naturopathic doctor last week to look at by body on a cellular level. The technology was amazing! According to the test, the cancer in my body is fungal based and there are supplements that can kill the fungus. The doctor thought I should see results in 4 to 6 weeks by taking these supplements.

I applied for a clinical drug study for women with Triple Negative Breast Cancer but had to wait for my gene test results before I could be approved. If this drug works it would give a future option for women with this type of cancer. Still waiting for my results to come through. I even sent my medical records to an Oncologist in another country hoping for a different protocol; one that didn't include chemo, but he reported back that I needed chemo immediately.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Janie asked me if I was willing to do whatever was needed, even if it was chemo. It was a hard question that I had to take to the Lord. I had to admit that I was afraid of my cure and stop running, so I decided to trust God with my cure as well as my disease. I chose not to wait the 4 to 6 weeks for the supplemental results and move forward with chemotherapy.

I have had all my tests; breast MRI, CT scan, bone scan, and echo cardiogram. The port has been put in place and chemotherapy starts next week. I will have a two-drug (Adriamycin and Cyclophosphamide) combination drip for the next 8 weeks. Then the drug will change to Paclitaxel for 12 weeks. Total treatment of 5 months.

Gleaning life lessons from cancer has taught me to look beyond my physical adversity to find the Spiritual strength that will be with me on the other side. My prayers are more intimate; they are less about me and more about Him. The Psalms have been a great encouragement for me because it is there I find that The Lord is my light and my salvation; of whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" 27:1.

I didn't realize that I was running scared or that I had let fear dominate my decisions. Now that chemo is only a few days away I can face it in faith; trusting the Lord with all my heart and leaning not on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:4-5).

Monday, January 28, 2019

Cancer is NOT the Big "C"

Coming to the reality that you have cancer can take a little bit to sink in. Fighting all the emotions of fear, anxiety, and desperation can be exhausting. The key is to fight and the reality is that God is sufficient.

During this battle, I have been reminded that cancer is not the big "C"! Christ is the Big C and he has promised, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you" Hebrews 13:5. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever" Hebrews 13:8. I can boldly say, "The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me" Hebrews 13:6.
God is not perplexed about what He is going to do. He is not surprised by the news, so I am allowing Him to guide me each day; even when I can't see the next step in front of me. I have been educating myself on cancer fighting foods and foods that will increase my immune system. I have cut out all sugars and I am eating mostly plant-based foods. I have also added some supplements to help me be stronger for the battle I am facing in the near future.

I will say that giving up my yummy hazelnut coffee was probably the most difficult. I overcame temptation my imagining the cancer cells eating and growing bigger as I fed it the delicious "sugary" goodness. 

God continues to answer prayers. The cancer has not spread to my lymph nodes, which is a huge praise. I am still waiting for the BRCA gene test to come back. If I understand things correctly, if I am positive for the gene, then I will be required to take a chemo drug for the next 10 years, but only after my original treatment and surgery. 

Please continue to pray for me and my family. I desire to grow stronger in the Lord through this trial and give Him praise every day while I'm in it. 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

It's Chemo

I was wrong about cancer being the only word in the world that could churn the stomach to the point of vomiting ~ chemo is another.  Those of you who have been through this process probably have some insight to a few more words that I have not heard yet which will do the same.

The diagnosis is Stage II Triple Negative Ductal Carcinoma. The triple negative means that the cancer is estrogen negative, progesterone negative, and HER2 (a protein on the cell surface that stimulates growth) negative. This limits the treatment options to chemo ~ 3 to 6 months of chemo before any surgery is considered.
Honestly, I was very surprised that I only have one option. I thought with all the research facilities and extensive studies that have been taking place over the past several years that there would have been multiple options for treating cancer by now.

In all reality, I suppose there are, unfortunately, there are no other options for me. This was very disappointing because I know the effects chemo can have on the total health of the body. I do not want to do chemo and was hoping for a different option.

Of course, at this point they do not know if the cancer has spread anywhere else in my body or if the cancer originated from somewhere else. The doctor took a sample from swollen lymph nodes under my arm to send off for testing which will not be back for several days. If I understand things correctly, my stage II will be increased to stage III if the results come back positive.

Before chemo can begin I must have a series of tests done. While waiting, I will be making every effort to increase my immune system and overall health. I am spending lots of time in God's word to make His promises ever present in my heart and mind. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might" Ephesians 6:10. He is my Strength, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my Strong Tower; in Him will I place all my trust. He is sufficient for my life.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for You are with me" Psalm 23:4. I love this verse because I am walking through a valley but death is a mere shadow. I have nothing to fear because God is with me every step of the way.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

It's Cancer

It's cancer. Hearing those words brought an overwhelming flood of emotions; but mostly fear. I could hardly sort through my own thoughts to hear anything else the doctor said. Cancer? Cancer! What? I don't think any other word in all the world could churn a stomach to the point of vomiting. For those of you who have experienced this moment, you know exactly what I'm talking about. I can say that until you hear it, and I hope you never do, no imagination can bring you to that place.

My journey has just begun and my first response was to keep it quiet. I didn't want to tell anyone because I had no idea how to share the news. I wouldn't know what to say or how to answer any questions. I was gripped by fear even to reach out. I came to the conclusion that I would rather share for prayers than to stay silent and face this monster alone. 

My phone rang from an unknown number and I answered expecting to hear a doctors office or hospital representative on the other end. Instead, it was the sweet sound of an unknown saint soon to be my dear friend, Norma Gibe. She had just finished her treatment for breast cancer and tracked down my number to call and share encouragement with me. She found me at a time I needed her the most. 

It is scary to share those secret fears and speaking of scary ~ my cryie face ~ now that's scary! LOL. I did not want people to see me cry and if they ask me something, I might (most definitely) cry. Norma shared her heart and opened my eyes to see past my own vanity. She helped me see how important it is to share my struggles even in the midst of them. 

It is easier to share the hard times once your on the other side of them, but sharing while your still vulnerable is not as simple. It takes something more than I had a week ago. Today, I am being vulnerable in the most difficult battle of my life because my new friend Norma taught me that sharing, even when you don't know someone, blesses others lives.