One year….

I want to apologize for being MIA on the blog. I am struggling with the “what now” of being done with chemo and radiation.

It is hard to believe, but this journey started just over a year ago, on August 5, 2020. Mu gynecologist had referred me for a diagnostic mammogram after I had discovered a lump and made her aware. I went in that day thinking the lump I felt was nothing major. A cyst or clogged milk duct, no big deal. I left that appointment with so much fear and uncertainty. The doctor wouldn’t speculate as to what she thought was going on. All she would say was I needed a biopsy and that the ultrasound showed not one, but several suspicious masses. She called them “satellite” masses feeding off of the larger one that I was feeling.

I got in the car and cried. Chris did what he does and said all the right things, but my mind was swirling. My birthday was coming in a few days, my oldest was moving to college, 2020 was already crazy with COVID, and now cancer. I knew by the look in the doctors eyes it was cancer. I knew when I left that day our lives had just instantly changed. The emotional torture to come is something I want to share in a separate post. I am going to do a few post reflecting on the last year, but I want to end with an update on life in Cotterville.

We moved Jordan back to college for year two last weekend. He is thriving and we are so proud of him. We know this is going to be a fantastic and exciting year for him. He is doing apartment life this year. He now has two roommates he met last year at school and they adopted two cats today!

Isaac has had a great summer including a trip to church camp. He had an awesome time. He has battled sickness, (yes, the other C word, COVID) but is healthy now and ready for school to start on the 11th. They are starting so early this year! He will be finishing his time on the elementary campus as a 6th grader!

Eli is a character. He brings so much joy to our family. He is doing speech and vision therapies and doing so well with both! He is very independent and knows what he wants. He does specific things to make us laugh and is just all around a great kiddo! He will be going to preschool at our church this year so he will be having a blast at school while I work!

Chris and I are doing well. We are excited about school starting and getting back into routines. Chris is still working from home which everyone enjoys. We hope this can become a more permanent thing eventually! I am working at the church a few days a week and love every single minute of it. I don’t even really like to call it work. That’s how you know it’s where God wants you to be. I will be starting back to school at the end of September and will hopefully graduate by mid-2022!

As I struggle with the what nows, I would love your input on what you would like to see me and post about. I want with all my heart to continue telling the story God is writing in my life, I am just struggling with the how. Please share ideas in the comments or reach out to me directly!

Picture of Isaac and I when he returned from camp. Look at the hair! I will do a better heart update soon!
Eli at work with mommy!
The latest picture I have of Jordan is from a summer trip to Arkansas. He checking out a plane with Todd!

“Vacation” is Over

My last chemo treatment was December 1st. That treatment marked the end of the first phase of chemotherapy. I was slated to have my new chemo medication done the 15th, bit I spoke with my doctor and we decided there would be no harm in holding off until after Christmas.

I am so glad we made that decision. The month of December is busy for most everyone, but when your family of five celebrates three birthdays in addition to Christmas, things get chaotic! This December brought Isaac turning 11, Chris having a birthday, Christmas, and Eli turning 2! I had no time for chemo!

Around mid-month I started feeling somewhat normal and the last few weeks were great. We had wonderful family time and I think we went nearly a week without even mentioning cancer or chemo. It was so nice and a much needed time of normalcy. But, alas, the cancer vacation has come to an end.

Tomorrow I start my next round of chemo. The “T” portion of AC-T. The medication itself is called Taxol.

My oncologist says it should be much easier on my body with the main side effect being fatigue. I am in several support groups and have seen a wide range of experiences. Most say they did fine while other had a harder time. There is no way of knowing how my body will react, but the prayer is I will handle it well and be able to function fairly normally! I do have steroids to take tonight and in the morning and will be given IV Benadryl just prior to the chemo infusion. I assume I will be very sleepy tomorrow as I sleep off the Benadryl.

I will be having 12 weekly infusions and then I will be completely done with chemo! This puts me finishing the Taxol by end of March as long as my blood counts don’t delay a treatment.

It has been a little over three months since diagnosis, but it feels much, much longer! I would like to believe that 2020 was the hard part of treatment, my mastectomy and four rounds of AC chemo “Red Devil”, and 2021 will bring better experiences and complete healing!

In addition to praying for little to no side effects from Taxol, please pray specifically that I do not develop neuropathy. That is one of the more severe things that can occur from taking Taxol. I will be icing my hands and feet during the infusion in an effort to prevent the chemo drugs from traveling to and settling into my hands and feet. We may not know for quite some time of neuropathy has set in. Some patients experience it while undergoing treatment and some months and years later. I think this is the only part that really makes me nervous.

I will leave you today with a few of my favorite pictures from the second half of December. I will follow up after the first round of Taxol to let you know how it went.

A few of the highlights. A lot of Eli. He is the star of the show almost always!

I feel…..normal

Today (Tuesday) should have been my fourth AC chemo, but due to the Thanksgiving scheduling at the clinic, and my insurance requiring a certain number of days between treatments, I had to push the treatment to next week. I can’t say that I’m upset. I don’t want to do this chemo again. I hate the way I feel for the days after, but I know that it is necessary and that I only have ONE MORE!

The past few days have been great. Sunday marked the first day I felt “normal”. I am not sure what normal is, but I felt the best I have felt since diagnosis in mid-August. We attended church in-person and then had lunch with friends. I had placed a grocery order and we swung by the dreaded big blue store to pick that up. We were gone from about 9:00 to 2:00. I haven’t been away from the home that long without having a doctor’s appointment in a very long time. I felt good. I was ready for a nap, but that is just what you do on Sunday afternoons, right? I was then able to fix dinner for my family and just enjoy being with everyone. Jordan came home from College Sunday evening so we spend the night all five of us talking and laughing and filling my heart with joy.

Eli has an infectious laugh and smile!

Monday was much the same. I woke up at a normal time and for the first time in what feels like forever I felt like doing some housework. I cleaned a corner of my room that has become the catch-all for paperwork, cards, gifts, and all things cancer. I cleaned up and organized that and it felt so good to be productive. I have layed around here wanting to do things, but have never been able to get up and do them. Before dinner we went out to a few stores looking at a few things and, again, being out of the house was refreshing. The last stop we made was to Dollar Tree. I have been seeing lots of crafts that people make from Dollar Tree items and I wanted to try my hand at it. $5 later we had the supplies needed and headed home. The boys and I made a box to fit around the Christmas tree stand and pole to cover it up and make it look prettier. Doing a craft with my two older boys was so fun. We all had different ideas of the best way to make it happen, but we worked together and got it done. If you had asked me a month ago if I would feel like crafting I would have laughed at you and said are you kidding, I can’t even stay awake to eat.

Foam board, tape, wrapping paper, and bows and our tree stand and pole are covered!

I know some of you are probably thinking, wait, why would she be going out in a global pandemic? We kept our distance and didn’t touch anything that wasn’t necessary. We sanitized our hands and wore our masks. We have taken the notion to not live in fear. My oncologist told us to “live our life”. If I contract something we will deal with it. She encouraged me to get out and have dinner with friends. She understands the importance of social interaction in maintaining a positive outlook.

Today, I have again been productive. We finished decorating the inside of the house for Christmas and Chris and I snuck away for a quick breakfast with one of our favorite couples.

The last few days have filled my heart with love and joy. It has helped me remember what I am fighting this cancer battle for. I continue to fight for my family and friends. I continue to fight to regain my “normal”. It may not ever look like it once did, but that’s okay. We will adjust to whatever the new normal is!

Our tree!
We have no fireplace so we had to get creative in displaying the stockings.