Friday, July 22, 2011

Let the Countdown Begin!

The past several months have been very hard in many ways, but I am so happy to see a light at the end of the tunnel - I only have three more radiation treatments to go! I will officially be done with all of my treatments (chemotherapy and radiation) at 9:30am on Wednesday, July 27th! Let the countdown begin! For the first time in nine months, I will not be making weekly (or daily) trips to the Lewis Cancer Center! I am still feeling pretty fatigued and my skin will continue to be sore for some time, but it should begin healing itself over the next several days.

Here is my radiation machine. The giant microscope-looking thing
is what is used to send the "radioactive energy" through my body. 
This is my "graduation certificate" from radiation...(it's my appointment card for my follow-up appointment,
but another cancer survivor told me she felt like it was more of a graduation certificate).
Another exciting part of finishing my treatment is that we are going to our annual family vacation in Florida the day after I finish radiation. When I mentioned that to my doctors they were not very pleased...I guess they frown upon beach vacations when you are not even allowed to be in the sun! I’m excited, though. I will have to use some special sunscreen and keep my upper body covered, but I am excited to play in the pool and at the beach with my precious children, my sister and brother-in-law, my nieces and nephew, my mother and her husband, and my grandparents! It will be a special time!

As excited as I am for radiation to be over, it does mean that we will be saying goodbye to our wonderful friend Bethany. She has been such a blessing to our family over the past few months. We will miss her dearly!

Bethany and Hudson at the "Savanah Zoo" (also known as Bass Pro Shop).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Peace Like a River

It has been a long nine months and I am very tired in every way these days. Over the last week the radiation has really started to take its toll on my body, making my skin very painful and making me very exhausted. As much as I rest, I just can’t seem to gain more strength, which is very frustrating. I am trying to focus on the fact that I only have seven more treatments, but then I remember that the day after radiation finishes I will begin a five-year dose of Tamoxifen (which can have its own unique side-effects). And I have several other health issues that I am struggling with right now (probably in some way related to my cancer), including a persistent cough and sinus problems. I desperately want my body to be healthy and strong again!

I am praying that my husband and children do not have to take the brunt of these issues. For their sake and for mine, I am praying that I can keep having joy and peace in the midst of this long road. Ultimately, no matter what the trials are in this life right now I can have joy and peace because of what Christ has done for me (dying for me on the cross), what he is doing for me now (sustaining me), and what he will do for me (return to rule forever and renew my broken body). While those truths cannot change the circumstances of my life today, they certainly change my perspective on my circumstances as they help me remember the “big picture” of God’s love and care for me as his child. The hymn “It Is Well with My Soul” is one of my favorites because it does just this: it reminds us of the joy and peace we can have because of the “big picture” of Jesus’ care, cross, and return.

Here is a beautiful version of “It is Well with My Soul” sung by Chris Rice.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Being Reminded of God's Word // July Update

I have not felt very “inspired” to write any entries for my blog lately. I have been very busy and have been feeling somewhat discouraged with my body. I know that is no excuse. It is good to make myself sit down and just listen to what God has to say to me through His word and take time to reflect on what he is teaching me through these trials, and I have not done that lately. 

I have been receiving encouraging letters from a dear friend over the past 5 months. She has been so dedicated to writing me every week and giving me encouraging thoughts and words from God’s word. When I opened my friend’s letter this week I was reminded of the importance of listening to what God is teaching me through these trials. She enclosed the words from 2 Corinthians 4:7-14. 

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.”

Whatever I am going through here on earth, I am not alone. God’s grace is holding me and renewing me day by day. I am praying that I would “not lose heart” because the life of Christ is being revealed. 

I am finishing up my final 10 treatments of radiation. Radiation itself has gone smoothly so far. The only side effects I have experienced have been fatigue and burned/irritated skin. Other than that I have been dealing with multiple sinus infections and a chronic cough that has yet to be diagnosed. I will be starting a new medication in two weeks that is kind of like an oral chemo (Tamoxifen). I will take it for 3-5 years in order to prevent my cancer from coming back. I am a little worried about this medicine because the two main side effects are blood clots/stroke, and uterine cancer. It is hard for me to justify doing these various cancer treatments when I don’t know if they will do more harm than good. But I just need to trust the fact that God has put my doctors over me and is using their knowledge and wisdom about these illnesses in order to help me.

I would appreciate prayers as I enter into this new phase of treatment. Pray that my body will stay strong and energized as I take care of my three precious children. Pray that my mind will stay positive, joyful, and focused on Christ as I move ahead. Also, please pray for an interesting opportunity I have to share my story this weekend. I have been selected to participate with several other breast cancer survivors in the American Cancer Society’s “Voices and Faces” campaign which will highlight breast cancer during the month of October. I have a photo shoot and interview at WSAV on Saturday, July 23rd. This is an exciting opportunity for me to share my story and what God has been teaching me during this journey. Please pray that God use me to glorify him through that interview.

Erin and Samuel.

We are missing out on U2's tour of the United States this Summer, so
Lydia decided to dress up as Bono and give us a performance instead!

Samuel's first haircut.

Samuel has learned to crawl, pull-up, cruise, and walk a little in the past few weeks.
He seems to get himself into all kinds of interesting situations with his new skills!

Lydia and Bethany on July Fourth.

Matt, Lydia, and Hudson waiting for the July Fourth fireworks to begin.