It was a Monday after my husband and I had just come back from a weekend away celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary. Around 10:30 that morning my office phone rang and, after I announced my name to the caller, I heard a nurse on the other end of the phone tell me she had the results of the biopsy that had been performed on me about a week earlier. She very calmly told me the results we positive and began to tell me the next steps I needed to take. She told me she would contact a surgeon and someone from their office would call me to set up an appointment to meet with the doctor.
I did it! I met that infamous five year mark! They never tell you when "that" time starts when you start that trek. Some say as soon as you have (surgery, chemo, radiation). Others say when your treatments are done. Still others say once you are declared cancer free. My doctors never said the phrase 'cancer-free', but my test results came back showing no cancer. Once I had surgery, I was told I had to have chemo because that little bugger snuck into my lymph nodes and only God knows where it hid after that. Then the radiologist told me I needed radiation because it would finish what I didn't allow in surgery. (I opted for a lumpectomy). So I decided that once I was finished with active treatments I would begin my countdown. I had my surgery on May 21, 2009. That was my momma's birthday. We lost her in 2004. I was a bucket of emotions that day. One of which; I was glad she wasn't alive to be a witness to this. It would have torn her up. But, I was glad to get that beast out of my body. I was also bummed because my girlfriends from Chicago were supposed to come and visit at that time. They even had their airline tickets. Sadly, that trip has never been rescheduled. And I was scared to pieces! I started the first of 6 chemo cycles on July1, 2009 and ended October 13, 2009.
Me and my oncology nurse, Mari Kay the day of my "graduation" from chemo.
Then five years ago on February 1st, 2010 I finished up 31 rounds of radiation.
Me and the radiation team on my last day of treatment.
In January of this year I met with my oncologist, Dr. Coffman, and he gave me the choice to stay on or go off of my prescription medication that I've been on since finishing radiation. I opted to finish out what I had at home and then stop. The percentages of additional cancer-free years was not enough to persuade me (or him) that it was worth staying on them. He didn't try to persuade me either way, just gave me facts, but I think he was totally okay with me going off them.
Dr Byran Coffman
I knew back in 2009 that cancer would change my life, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine how, and how much, it did. I wish that NO ONE would ever get cancer again, but I can actually say it has been a blessing to go through such a life-altering diagnosis. I learned, or should say, am still learning, lessons from having gone through cancer. First I realized that life really is too short to take advantage of. Love those who surround you, and let them know it. Appreciate the little things in life, a kind word, a beautiful sunset, the sound of wind brushing the tree tops... Seriously, who ever coined the phrase, "Stop and smell the roses" had to have gone through a traumatic incident. Do exactly what it says. Stop! Take time to smell that beautiful fragrance of a rose, to play "patty cake" or "peek-a-boo" with a child. Take time to send someone a birthday card, or just a thinking-of-you card. Tell someone they are beautiful. Reflecting back, I can see how I've eased back into being too busy (i.e: self-centered) and let too many opportunities slip by without appreciating or being thankful. I have it on my agenda to slow down this year and start again showing my gratitude to my loved ones and myself. Secondly, take your health seriously! Cancer IS preventable! Our mom's, Dr's and TV ads have been pounding the message into our ignoring heads for decades. Eat your fruits and veggies, get plenty of sleep, drink 8 glasses of water a day and exercise! Such simple, but ignored, pieces of advice that could save our lives. I might add, stop activities that cause stress and cut out sugar as much as possible (it hides in everything!) If you don't take care of your body, who will take care of you? It really boils down to a little self-discipline and less television, to take care of YOU. You are worth it! Lastly and most importantly, and I've gotten away from this one too, connect with the One who made you. When I was going through treatments and had little to no energy, I had plenty of "down-time". I talked to God, read His word, and received His love. He is there all the time, but we rarely slow down long enough to make time to be with Him. I've said it before, and I'll say it again here, relationships take TIME! You must spend time with your spouse or you will most likely end up in divorce, or the dreaded and ugly 'just living together'. You must spend time with your children, or they will become little monsters, out of control, doing whatever they want, which is usually destructive, humans. You must take time to develop friendships or you end up with lip service statements like: "let's get together for lunch"... "call me"..... or the hang in the air, "we should do that." that never happens. The same applies to our relationship with our heavenly Father. The silver lining is, He never leaves us and He always loves us. It is we who walk away, stay silent or run away from Him. The good news is, He is always there for us when we finally decide to come back and talk to Him. He'll welcome us back with love and open arms. I can hear Him say to me "I've been waiting for you. Welcome back. I've missed you." I've missed Him too. I've had a glimpse of the reality of His love, His awesomeness, His patience, His faithfulness, and I miss it. My heavenly Father, It's been too long since I've sat and talked to you. I'm sorry I've been away too long. It is so good to come back to your heavenly hugs and your loving voice whispering in my ear softly and soothingly. Thank you for always being there for me and for welcoming me back after I've been away. It's good to be home. I love You. He gave me these last 5 years. What I did, or didn't do with that time is something I live with. Both the good and the bad. I've made some bad decisions and wasted time. I've also made some great decisions and have been thankful for those. If it weren't for going through cancer, I may have never had the "wake-up call" to change my eating habits for the healthier or started getting serious about exercise. Although I'm still learning and realizing things and still making mistakes, I am beginning to let go of unhealthy things like: bad foods, dead-end relationships and things I have no control over. And I've begun to embrace healthier eating, consistent exercise and expressing love and thankfulness to those in my life. I am trying to stress less and appreciate more and most importantly, sit in my Fathers lap everyday.
For those of you who remember Sue C, please begin to pray for her again. Sue was diagnosed with breast cancer about a year or so ago, but went into remission.
I just found out that her cancer is back, as Stage 4, in her spine. The Drs are giving her "up to" 3 years. they can't do anything but treat any tumors that appear with radiation in hopes of shrinking them and to lesson the pain.
Sue is asking again for prayer as she knows God could intervene if it's His will. Sue is caring for a nursing home husband and has a grown child who doesn't live close. She plans to continue working as she doesn't want to sit at home and have time to think about her situation.
I am saddened to announce that Sue G. lost her battle with stage 2 lung cancer. After thinking she was going into remission, cancer came back on her spine. It was just days after they discovered this that she left us. Please pray for her family as they grieve. Oct 2, 2013
here are some Facts about breast cancer and what you can do to prevent it or lower your risks.
When breast cancer is detected early, in the
localized stage, the 5-year survival rate is 98%* *NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE
**FACTS ABOUT BREAST CANCER IN THE UNITED STATES
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.
Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die.
Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 410 will die each year.
**GOOD NEWS ABOUT BREAST CANCER TRENDS
In recent years, perhaps coinciding with the decline in prescriptive hormone replacement therapy after menopause, we have seen a gradual reduction in female breast cancer incidence rates among women aged 50 and older. Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, in part to better due to screening and early detection, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.
Be proactive!! Do breast self-exams, and schedule your clinical breast exams and mammograms based on your age and health history.
***WHAT CAN I DO TO REDUCE MY RISK OF BREAST CANCER
In many cases, what is known about cancer prevention is still evolving. However, it's well accepted that your chances of developing cancer are affected by the lifestyle choices you make.
So if you're concerned about cancer prevention, take comfort in the fact that some simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference. Consider these seven cancer prevention tips.
1. Don't use tobacco
Using any type of tobacco puts you on a collision course with cancer. Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer — including cancer of the lung, bladder, cervix and kidney. And chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. Even if you don't use tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke might increase your risk of lung cancer.
Avoiding tobacco — or deciding to stop using it — is one of the most important health decisions you can make. It's also an important part of cancer prevention. If you need help quitting tobacco, ask your doctor about stop-smoking products and other strategies for quitting.
Although making healthy selections at the grocery store and at mealtime can't guarantee cancer prevention, it might help reduce your risk. Consider these guidelines:
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and other foods from plant sources — such as whole grains and beans.
Limit fat. Eat lighter and leaner by choosing fewer high-fat foods,
particularly those from animal sources. High-fat diets tend to be higher in calories and might increase the risk of overweight or obesity — which can, in turn, increase cancer risk.
If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. The risk of various types of cancer — including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver — increases with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you've been drinking regularly.
3. Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active
Maintaining a healthy weight might lower the risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney.
Physical activity counts, too. In addition to helping you control your weight, physical activity on its own might lower the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.
Adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits. But for substantial health benefits, strive to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity. You can also do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine — and if you can do more, even better.
4. Protect yourself from the sun
Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer — and one of the most preventable. Try these tips:
Avoid midday sun. Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest.
Stay in the shade. When you're outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible. Sunglasses and a broad-rimmed hat help, too.
Cover exposed areas. Wear tightly woven, loosefitting clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible. Opt for bright or dark colors, which reflect more ultraviolet radiation than pastels or bleached cotton.
Don't skimp on sunscreen. Use generous amounts of sunscreen when you're outdoors, and reapply often.
Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps. These are just as damaging as natural sunlight.
5. Get immunized
Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections. Talk to your doctor about immunization against:
Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for certain high-risk adults — such as adults who are sexually active but not in a mutually monogamous relationship, people with sexually transmitted infections, intravenous drug users, men who have sex with men, and health care or public safety workers who might be exposed to infected blood or body fluids.
Human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical and other genital cancers as well as squamous cell cancers of the head and neck. The HPV vaccine is available to both men and women age 26 or younger who didn't have the vaccine as adolescents.
6. Avoid risky behaviors
Another effective cancer prevention tactic is to avoid risky behaviors that can lead to infections that, in turn, might increase the risk of cancer. For example:
Practice safe sex. Limit your number of sexual partners, and use a condom when you have sex.The more sexual partners you have in your lifetime, the more likely you are to contract a sexually transmitted infection — such as HIV or HPV. People who have HIV or AIDS have a higher risk of cancer of the anus, liver and lung. HPV is most often associated with cervical cancer, but it might also increase the risk of cancer of the anus, penis, throat, vulva and vagina.
Don't share needles. Sharing needles with an infected drug user can lead to HIV, as well as hepatitis B and hepatitis C — which can increase the risk of liver cancer. If you're concerned about drug abuse or addiction, seek professional help.
7. Get regular medical care
Regular self-exams and screenings for various types of cancers — such as cancer of the skin, colon, prostate, cervix and breast — can increase your chances of discovering cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Ask your doctor about the best cancer screening schedule for you.
Take cancer prevention into your own hands, starting today. The rewards will last a lifetime.
Continuing to bring you the faces in my prayer list.
Today I am adding two folks that just recently received news of their cancers and are still trying to come to terms with the roller coaster ride they are just beginning.
This is Harold E. Harold was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. Harold has had a full bone scan and will be having a body CAT scan on the 16th of August, so we are still waiting to hear what his treatment options will be. I've known Harold almost all of my life. This face is personal to me, Harold married my aunt when I was just a young girl. I babysat their children and now their grandchildren are having babies. I will keep you updated on Harold as we get news.
This is Beth H. Beth also was recently diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is cancer of the plasma cells. This prognosis came as a complete surprise. I met Beth at an ABC conference for bridal consultants. We connected almost immediately and have kept in touch since. Caught off guard, Beth texted me from her hospital bed asking me to step in at a wedding where she was the wedding planner. Beth has already had two surgeries and expects to be on chemo for 3-5 months. She is very tired and still trying to process all that has occurred in a short month since her diagnoses.
Please keep Harold and Beth in your prayers as they begin their journey of cancer treatments.
It's been quite a while since I last posted on this blog. I am thankful that my oncology visits are routine with no news to really report. I continue to pray for those on the right column of this blog. I hope those of you who visit this site do as well. Since my last posting in February, I've been made aware of more people who I know or know of, who have been diagnosed with some sort of cancer. Can I just say cancer sux. The folks I know though are FIGHTERS! I want to share with you just a few faces of the beautiful people I am praying for. Some of these have been on my prayer list for awhile, while others are new. I hope these faces make these folks more real for those of you who do not know them, and for those of you who may know them, I hope this posts helps to keep their journey relevant and before you. Let's start with Jenny L. I've know Jenny since the mid-70's but many years passed before we connected again through Facebook. This beautiful and talented woman of God, still has a smile that will brighten any room she walks into. Jenny had breast cancer several years ago and was loving counting her survivor years. On her sixth year follow up visit, the doctors found cancer in her bones. All of us who know her were in shock with this news. Jenny, however kept only positive comments on her FB page and continues to live life regardless of her devastating news. She has faith like a rock. Jenny says she has tohave 3 shots once a month and her oncologist wants to do more scans towards the end of summer just to see how her bones are looking. Jenny is convinced it will show a huge improvement because all the pain is gone now except when it's about to rain, she still feels it, but then she says she's only "a little achey... but that's it"! Jenny shared that the nurse who gives her the shots says when bones are getting weaker like hers were, that's when they ache. So the fact that Jenny is virtually pain free now is great news! Jenny says " I'm walking a mile most days now and can do things I couldn't do last summer and didn't know why. God is GOOD!!!"
DeAnn L is another friend. I've never met DeAnn face to face, but she is a dear friend of some of my family members who used to live in her state. DeAnn and her family have had multiple physical issues in the recent years. Breast cancer was her diagnoses earlier in 2013. After a lumpectomy, another surgery was required to remove a second spot that was missed during the first surgery. Doctors recommended an aggressive treatment for DeAnn.
DeAnn just went in for her fourth chemo treatment. She was not looking forward to it as her last treatment really knocked her out., She spent many days in bed after treatment # 3, anemia having set in. DeAnn hasn't checked in with us since starting treatment # 4, but she was hoping her red blood counts had "fixed" themselves enough so that she could continue her treatments. She stated before she left for her treatments this time "I am always resting in His everlasting arms to what ever comes my way, Thanks for the prayers..."
DeAnn isn't shy about showing off her loss of hair. She is fighting a battle, hair isn't her big concern.
I hope you will put these ladies on your prayer list. Stay tuned for more FACES and updates soon.
Today is a day when millions of people are celebrating Super Bowl Sunday. All eyes are on two teams being led by brothers who, this week anyway, are not feeling very brotherly toward each other. Everyone is excited to see who will win the game of all football games. Millions will tune in to watch the game, watch the commercials and watch Beyonce's lips. The day is one big party from the food to the game.
I too am sitting in front of the tube, albeit waiting for the commercials, and although it's just me and my honey quietly sharing TV time at opposite ends of the couch, I could care less which team wins. Both are awesome teams or they wouldn't have made it this far. In my book, they are both already winners.
Today I am celebrating more than just the Superbowl. Three years ago I finished my last radiation treatment. See the post "Done is Good" for the information I shared that day. Even though I still had plenty of healing to overcome, that day started my count down in survivor hood. Each year presents another milestone, with the excitement of looking forward to that magical fifth year. That fifth year I get to stop taking daily post chemo drugs, I get to stop saying I'm in remission and start saying I am cured. Many ask if we can ever really talk about a cancer cure. The sites I read generally say the answer is no. However, the odds of recurrence may be so low that a person can essentially say they are cured.
I have a few naysayers around me that feel it their duty to remind me that the cancer is lurking in my body and the chances of recurrence is likely. Logically I know that is a possibility, but please, do I have to be reminded of that probability? There is also the likelihood that cancer may NOT come back. Can we focus on that? As you can probably imagine, I have been reading and researching about causes of cancer and the speculations as to why it is on the rise. More and more people, scientists and doctors are coming to the same conclusion. Our food, our environment and our stress levels are the culprit for this crazy increase in this nasty disease. Slowly, word is getting out about the causes of cancer and what we can do to prevent getting this disease, stopping it or even reversing it. I am learning about upgrading my eating, getting more exercise and giving thanks in all things instead of stressing about them. (God commands us to do that anyway...if we only would listen).
But regardless of the "things" I can do, I still ultimately put my faith in God. I refuse to live with the when or “what ifs”. Matthew 6:34 says "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." And Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 12:22 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear." So, I choose not to live in fear and worry if cancer will return. Instead I will learn what God wants me to learn and make changes in my life, but most importantly I will continue to put my faith in Him.
Today is MY Superbowl. I'm already a winner, I have made it this far! Happy 3 year survivor Anniversary to me! Thank you Jesus for walking me down this path!
You may ask why and my answer is simple. This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Ps 118:24
It is simple in it's decision, but not always simple in it's action. There is so much in this world that makes it easy for us to feel alone, bitter, and afraid. These feelings lead us to anger and destructive behavior. We can be of no help to anyone when we let our emotions rule how we respond to the hardships that we encounter in this world. We must remember that Satan is out to destroy those who follow God. But we can kick Satan's butt. We can choose to speak to our emotions and follow God's will, which is a win-win for us and God while at the same time we're spitting in the devils face and putting him in his rightful place...under our heels.
Ps 31:7 says "I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul." God doesn't promise any of us a nice cushy life. What He does promise is that He will always be there for us. Gods plan for us, and for the world, is perfect. We may not always think that when it's our turn to make an impact, especially when it involves unpleasant circumstances that we must go through, but God sees the big picture, we don't. He knows how to run the universe and knows the chain of action our little part makes in that big picture.
At times we go through a long dark tunnel, and while there Satan will take full advantage of our situation and taunt us that God has forgotten us. " In my alarm I said, "I am cut off from your sight!"... But God IS there, He does hear us. This is when we have to have faith in what He tells us and believe that His word is true... " Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help." Ps 31:22
This week I received news about 2 women. One is a young mother who was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. The other,a breast cancer survivor in mid-life who was just told that her cancer has returned. This time in her bones. My heart is heavy.
PS 31:24 says " Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD." "... the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine." Ps 33:18-19
We cannot look at what is presented to us when it contradicts what the bible tells us. We must look to God and His word. We must have faith that God doesn't lie, that His word is the truth. Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Heb 11:1
Does this change my circumstance today? No, but I can change my outlook today. I can choose to rejoice in His love. I don't rejoice at these women's illnesses, but I do rejoice that they both love and serve our God and that He will be with them through these trials. He will use these circumstances to draw them and those around them, even closer to Him.
Today is a day fresh from the hand of God. When we are raised up from sickness, or are going through it or other dark times, it seems a new life is given to us. Each day, week, month, year that we live is added to our lives, as if it were created anew for this very purpose, that we should rejoice in God's love for us. We should, therefore, regard life not as our own, but as so much given to us by the special mercy and providence of God.
In honor of these two women, I choose to rejoice and be glad today for this is the day that the Lord has made.