Thursday, June 4, 2009

Be Still My Soul

It’s been a rough week. We met with the Medical Oncologist on Friday the 29th. Dr. Coffman read over my report and informed us that chemo would be needed. We told him what Dr. Levy had informed us of, about the study showing chemotherapy not adding much value than taking Tamoxifen alone. He said that once cancer enters the lymph nodes, it enters the lymph system. To ignore that would not be wise. Chemo cuts down the chances of re occurrence by 50% between women who take the chemo and those that do not. That is a significant percentage. His argument was convincing. So…..I get chemotherapy.

I will have a cocktail mix of Taxotere, Adriamycin and Cytoxan which will take about an hour and a half to infuse into my IV. Before those medicines are given I will get a mix of medications infused first to help me combat side effects of these drugs. That is another half hour. I will receive 6 treatments spread out about 14-21 days apart, beginning July 1st with each treatment lasting about 2-3 hours. Due to the nature of chemo and the way it compromises the body, these treatments may stretch out farther. Treatments may be delayed if my white blood counts drop too low, if I get a cold, if I get some of the common side effects or if any of the common side effects turn serious.

I was told that my prescribed drugs will make me lose my hair and that “being sick” wasn’t inevitable. I am trying to find the upside to all this. Dr. Coffman told us that that when my hair grows back, it will be thicker and curlier than before. ..Thicker is good. Until then, I’ll be like my great Aunt Cleta..”Let me grab my wig”! (inside family memory). Another benefit to chemo, I won’t need to shave my legs for awhile! Pat S would LOVE that side effect with summer coming!

Before I begin chemo I will have a few more visits to doctors and hospitals. I meet with my radiation oncologist, Dr. “C”, on June 8th to discuss radiation treatment, when it begins and how long it will be once chemo is over. On June 17th I will go to Hillcrest hospital for a PET scan to check my entire body for any cancer that may be lurking. On June 24th I go back to Hillcrest for a MUGA scan. The MUGA scan (MUlti Gated Acquisition scan) is a test that produces a moving image of the heart. From this image, the health of my heart’s major pumping chamber (the left ventricle) can be assessed. Adriamycin, one of the drugs that will be used on me, can be toxic to the heart muscle, and can lead to heart failure. This scan is to establish a baseline on my heart, and to rule out pre-existing cardiac disease.

As if the chemo blow wasn’t enough, one of the possible after effects to surgery reared it’s ugly head this week. Lymph fluid has been building up under my arm. Because they removed 3 lymph nodes, the lymph fluid is having difficulties finding their super highway. They have yet to ask direction to the nearest node. I became so uncomfortable with the swelling and hardness under my arm that I finally called the doctor’s office. No one had told me to expect this, so I was just sure something was terribly wrong. Debbie, one of Dr. Levy’s nurses, informed me that this is not uncommon, and to come on in and they would “stick a needle in it and drain the fluid”. (Well didn’t that just sound lovely). She assured me that I should still be numb and won’t feel it. Well the good news is she was right, I didn’t feel it. The bad news is, she says this could occur again for up to six months, but I should tolerate it as long as possible before coming in again. Here’s the scoop, I was told I have to avoid blood sticks, blood pressure cuffs, bug bites, cuts, burns, and even manicures on my right side from here on out as my lymph nodes struggle to process infections in the absence of a few nodes. So sticking a needle in my armpit is not ideal. Last night I noticed the fluid is already beginning to build up again. ...Drats.

Between the news, the discomfort, and the emotional toll we’ve been taking lately, it really has been a hard week. I have been struggling to get my focus back on God and give it all to Him. Today I was finally able to pray and begin to give it to Him. I’m still working on it. I’ve been playing praise and worship songs all day on my iPod and on the house stereo. Then one of the songs spoke to me. Be Still My Soul. That is a command. Hush, settle down soul and listen to God’s promises.

Be still my soul! The Lord is on your side!
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide in every change, He faithful to remain.
Be still my soul! The waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Oh what peace we often forfeit. Oh, what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Why does it always take so long to run into my Father’s arms when I hurt, when I fear? I suffer needlessly because I don’t carry EVERYTHING to God in prayer. Be still my soul the Lord is on your side! I hate feeling sick, I’ll look horrible bald, I really fear IV needles… Be still my soul! God is on your side. “Fear not, for I am with you”. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life”? “You of little faith, why are you so afraid”?. “ I sought the Lord and He heard my voice; He delivered me from all my fears”. Be still my soul! The Lord is on your side.

Forgive me Abba Father for not running to You when I am afraid. I run and hide letting fear and doubt torture me when all the while you are calling my name to come to You. Oh Lord, hold me close. Help me to seek You quicker in the midst of this and deliver me from all my fears.
Be still my soul. Hush! The Lord is on my side.


  1. The most authentic thing about is is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our summeering. Ben Okri

  2. Oh, I am so sorry that you will have to endure chemo. It is very difficult. You are such a fashion diva, however and will probably love the scarves and hats you can come up with. I remember the night that my oncologist called to let me know that I would have to have chemo. It was about 10:30 at night and Chuck and I were in bed, long asleep. I was very frightened. But, God is faithful. He knew this was going to happen. He isn't surprised by this and He will be with you throughout the whole thing. Remember there is a war going on and the chemo will win, the cancer will be destroyed!!! Rest, rest, rest, both physically and spiritually. Love you girlfriend!

  3. Love ya Mindy! I can hardly bear to read this as it seems too hard to withstand! But I can see you are holding tightly to God's hand and He will not let you down! He made you and He can heal you from this aweful sickness. You are in my prayers my friend. Prayers for healing, peace and courage.

  4. Mindy,
    I am a good friend of Lavern's and a breast cancer survivor. My cancer was Stage 3 and was in 18 of 22 lymph nodes and that was almost 7 years ago! I did lots of chemo (CAT like you), radiation, more chemo and I'm here to tell you it is VERY "do-able"....not even close to what I had envisioned in my mind. I, too, have had struggles with lymphedema especially when I fell off a Segway and broke my right elbow...and yes, it's a fair question...what in the world were you doing riding a Segway? Anyway I have it under control now and play tennis many days per week. I say all of this to encourage you and let you know that God will carry you through this and you will see very clear evidences of Him and you will experience moments with Him that you will never ever forget. So far Lavern is forwarding me your blog....I can't figure out how to sign up! I'm such a "not-cool" person when it comes to computers. I love you and pray for you (and precious Linda) daily. One bit of immediate advice...go ahead and find a great looking wig NOW while you have your hair so the wig lady can see what your real hair looks like. It will start to fall out on about day 17 to 20 after your first treatment with Adria. Yes, it's traumatic, emotional, etc. but look at it this KNOW for sure that the Adria is doing what it's supposed to do! And I looked horrible bald too....looked just like my Daddy bless his heart. One day soon this will all be a blur and you will be able to "comfort someone else with the comfort that you have been given by God." (a definite paraphrase of I Cor 1:4)
    Love you
    Jo Kennedy
    Irving, TX

  5. My dear friend Mindy, You have put yourself in God's hands. That is the best place you can be. He hears your prayers and all of our prayers for you. God, your family and your friends will be here always for you. Love you, Linda

  6. MindyLove-
    My daily devotional pointed to Psalm 57 this morning; vs. 1 says "My soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamaties have passed by." I love you Mindy girl...the beauty of your heart far surpasses the beauty of your hair my precious one. XOXOXO Margaret

  7. As has already been said just keep holding on to the Fathers hand it is the best thing to. My favorite hymn is It Is Well With My Soul. If you don't know the story behind it remind me to tell you sometime. Hang in there, when things get tough about your hair picture the beautiful thick head of hair when your all done. Laurie

  8. Oh Mindy,
    I'm so sorry that you've had a difficult week. I pray that the Good Shepherd would continue to walk with you through this valley and that His presence next to you will give you tremendous peace and courage. Lots of love,

  9. I am constantly praying for you and your family. I know it is hard to stay focus and positive but don't forget that you have a lot off people cheering for you. My motto is "This too shall pass" and it will pass, not as fast as you would like it to but it will pass.

    Take Care, Sita