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Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Photo Dump

Thanks for all the emails and Facebook messages over the past few days. I apologize for not commenting on every single one. You guys overwhelm me (in the best possible way) with your persistent and intentional encouragement.

We've had very dreary, cold, rainy days yesterday and today so Rory and I have spent lots of time curled up on the couch reading and watching The Food Network. Yes, it is possible for Chopped to take your mind off cancer.

Bright and early tomorrow morning we're flying to Dallas to spend a couple of days with our Clearview friends. It may seem like an odd time for a trip, but I actually think it's a great opportunity to spend time with friends and get away. I'm having a few new chemo side effects and would appreciate your prayers that they would not hinder our trip in any way.

And here are a few pictures from the week. I haven't had the camera out nearly often enough. I always forget how hard it is to make the transition to indoor, poorly lit pictures when the weather changes.

Camden working on his first book report. Our schedule has been a little crazy the past 2 weeks, and we managed to have him wait until the very last night to get it done.
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And Rory has some kind of Halloween dog she's painting while Camden labors away on his book report.
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When Rory plays outside on her own, you can almost guarantee that she'll not only have her Dr. Seuss backpack on, but her baby will be on her shoulder.
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Notice Rory is wearing shorts in this picture from Monday, and our high may not reach 50 today. :)
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Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Age 5 = Silliness

I remember this well with Camden. He turned 5 and almost immediately turned into a silly  monster. It must be an age thing because Rory has been 5 for exactly 1 month, and she has turned up the silliness factor big time. Big, open-mouthed grins, giggles that won't stop, cracking herself up over and over again. Dressing in knee socks with no pants and pulling out the cheerleading pom poms. :)

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Our 2nd Opinion Update

Knowing my recent health history, you're not expecting good news, right? As I suspected, it was not pleasant to hear how difficult my physical situation is. Basically, the doctor told us that the best we can hope for is to keep the cancer stable, and I will remain on chemo indefinitely. I could not make myself ask how long that might be.

Despite the bad news, I realized after several hours of reflection (and by reflection I mean crying and resisting the urge to scream at someone, something) that God did answer our prayer. We asked to feel calm, and we asked that the choice would be clear. The cancer center treated us very well; the staff was compassionate; the doctor spent a full hour with us giving us more information on ovarian cancer and treatment than we have received in the last 7 months. My treatment would have been the same at Vanderbilt as it was with Dr. W. The Taxol/Cistplatin/Carboplatin is the standard treatment. Ovarian cancer is rare enough and complicated enough that there are not alot of options. When the standard doesn't work is where treatment plans start to deviate.

While we haven't made the final choice, I am feeling pretty confident that I will switch to Vanderbilt. I will continue on with one more cycle of the current chemo drug (Gemzar if you're interested), followed by a CT scan. As long as the cancer is stable, they will consider the Gemzar successful, and I will continue. When Gemzar is no longer keeping the cancer in check, we move on to either another drug or possibly a clinical trial.

As I sit alone in the house tonight, I feel disheartened. This is certainly the most helpless as well as hopeless that I have felt.  I'm not really upset for myself even though an abbreviated life of chemo doesn't sound like fun. But a life full of chemo is absolutely worth it if it keeps me alive for my husband and children. My heart is broken for them, but even as I try to process all these feelings bubbling up inside me, I find myself resolving to take one day at a time, to fully live one day at a time, to continue to try to learn something from this, to grow from this, to somehow make it worth something.

One way we lived today to the fullest is that Brian and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and took a walk when we got home from the hospital. It wasn't an easy walk because there is so much to say and nothing to say all at the same time, but it was absolutely beautiful out, and I'm glad we made the effort.

Growth!

Thank you to the 126 of you who liked my FB status last week when I announced that I was pulling out the mascara for the first time in months. :)

Here are two pictures taken exactly one week apart.

Friday, October 14.
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Friday, October 21
(clearly, our self-portrait skills deteriorated during the week). You can see them, right? I promise they are there.  And check out my 5 o'clock shadow eyebrows!
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My hair is also growing back in; you can see a difference almost daily. And I'd show you a picture of that, but shaggy fuzz is pretty unflattering. :)

I actually have mixed feeling about all this hair growth going on. Losing your hair is such a universal symbol of cancer and being sick, and I have long looked forward to the day that it grows back. But always when I thought about that time, it was as I moved past cancer, our life got back to normal, etc. Not once did I consider the fact that when my hair grew back, it would be while I still lived with cancer and chemo treatments. Don't get me wrong. I'm ecstatic about my eyelashes and eyebrows, and if you live in this household, you're probably tired of me talking about it. But there are definite moments as I rejoice over my hair when the thought that I still have cancer catches me off guard.

Brian and I are heading to Nashville today to the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center to talk to their gynecological oncologist for a second opinion. I'm not really expecting some big revelation or magical solution to my cancer. In fact, I think it will probably be difficult to hear statistics and the cold, hard facts about my situation, but I am hopeful they will have some new information regarding treatment, something different we can try.

I have apparently been a little more worried about this than I realized because I felt sicker and more upset and infinitely more weepy as the day went on yesterday. Of course, I could also blame that on chemo side effects as well. I am clinging to 2 verses right now:

Psalm 55:22 "Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you."

I Peter 5:7 ". . . casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you."

I've read these verses many times before, but they were part of the kid's morning devotion today, and I'm pretty certain it's not a coincidence that these verses were placed in my path just on the morning I needed them.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday's Tidbits

Based on the incredible amount of attention we have received the last few weeks, Rory must be getting cuter. It's either that or the cute bob she's sporting these days because she has gotten a ridiculous amount of attention from strangers in the last few weeks. And why don't I just announce it here since I've had no less than 4 specific requests from strangers: Jennifer at The Hair Gallery in Springfield cuts her hair. You can get the same cut for yourself! We should start getting commission.

In case you've ever wondered how pumpkin and chocolate chips might be together, I can personally vouch for these cookies.

"If I were a football player, at the same age I am right now, I would get hurt. And that would make me sad." Definitely from Rory. Camden just tells us "that's the reason I don't play football" every time he sees someone get tackled. Yep, brave children I have.

Rory poked her head in from playing outside yesterday and said, "MAMA! I just figured out something. If you scare the cat, it runs up a tree." 

We had a parent/teacher conference Friday afternoon with Camden's teacher, and I am once again reminded just how much we take him and his academic abilities and good behavior for granted. He is such a good kid.

Brian came home from school yesterday and took the kids out for a couple of hours to spend a little bit of quality time with them, but also to give me a few minutes alone. I may or may not have sent a text yesterday that said, "Someone. Please. For the love of God. Make her stop talking."

Camden, who craves snuggling not just from us but from the cats, got scratched yesterday. I am quite certain that the poor cat just is tired of being snuggled by an 8 year old. We had a hard time convincing Camden that Skipper wasn't out for blood. You would have thought he'd broken his arm by the way he was shaking and whining. Like I've said many times before, heaven help us if he ever actually gets injured.

Brian and the kids returned home last night from the trip mentioned above with an updated heating pad bean thingy from Brookstone. Camden said the best part of his day was the look on my face when they gave it to me. All together now, awwwwwwwww. 

Gram just came to pick up both kids to keep Rory today and to take Camden to school. I leave for chemo in a few minutes, but right now I'm enjoying a few quiet moments with my coffee.
Micheline Martin: Bo Jangles
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Monday, October 24, 2011

An Attempt to Catch Up

Why I feel compelled to post all of these, I'll never know. Feel free to skim or skip all together. Unless you're the grandparents.

Last Saturday Brian took the kids to the fall festival at Camden's school.

For some strange reason, he could not get them to pose with these endearing creatures.
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They did, however, play on the inflatables. . . 102411_4

. . . get their faces painted. Rory started out wanting to get something princess-y, but ended up with a spider on her hand. Go figure.
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Monday, Rory stayed with Gram (and later met us for lunch) while mom and I went for bloodwork, grocery shopped, looked at baby clothes for Liz's baby, shopped for jeans, boots, etc. We also got coffee at the new kiosk at the hospital. Imagine my happiness (and surprise) when the hospital coffee lady can make a mean mocha. I actually have a picture of this, but am feeling much too lazy to grab from my phone.

While I had chemo and a doctor's appointment Tuesday Rory played at the park with mom (and I failed to get the pics off her phone). My chemo gift that day from WCES was gift card to Gigi's cupcakes so we went straight from chemo to Gigi's. This was Rory's cupcake - picked solely for the heart on top.
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Went straight from Gigi's to Mas Tacos, one of Nashville's first food trucks turned into an actual location. A serious hole in the wall, but I had a fried avocado taco. Need I say more? Actually, I was a little disappointed, but my mom says it was my chemo tastebuds.
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Wednesday was my Neulasta shot, shopping at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. We also had a little glam queen on her hands as Rory played with make-up and nails, her birthday gift from Emma.
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Thursday and Friday were spent recovering from chemo from the couch and absolutely no pics to share.

Saturday was Rory's soccer tournament (which wrapped up her season). Notice the coach's wife cheering from the bench. We actually had a good game. Still didn't score a goal or win, but it was a good game.
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This is what Camden thought of all the soccer excitement.
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Shark Attack!
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We played Emma's team. Love her cheesing it up for the camera while the coach carries off another player. Yes, we still lost.
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Receiving her participation trophy. Love the look on her face.
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Rory and Riley 
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The team (and let me just say that the sun was so bright I couldn't even see the pictures/settings as I was taking them, but I'm letting my perfectionistic tendencies go, right?)
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Still friends even though Emma's team beat us. Twice.
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Reward time. Ice cream is almost as good as a trophy.
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My favorite one of the day.
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Marking almost our last item off the Summer 2010 List: making our own pizzas.
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And, finally, Michael and Liz's new bundle of joy. The puppy is going to get them ready for parenthood, I'm sure.
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The End.


Thousand Gifts 649-678




649. new coffee kiosk at the hospital
650. feeling well enough to attend soccer practice
651. Fields of Faith
652. a healthy 8 year check-up for Camden
653. multiple good days in a row
654. Camden's joyful face each day when I pick him up from school
655. date night!
656. squirrels
656. a walk in the park
658. Casting Crowns
659. Voice of Truth
660. music that moves me
661. having my mom with me
662. 3 straight days of running errands; shopping is fun!
663. falling leaves
664. fall decorations
665.  baby clothes
666. eyelashes finally long enough for mascara
667. eyebrows that are beginning to frame my eyes
6678. Rory's sweet voice telling me how much she loves me
669. Camden's fabulous report card
670. a lower CA125 level
671. glowing report from Camden's teacher
672. the color purple
673. travel safety for my parents
674. that Grandpa and Grandma got to be here for Rory's soccer tournament
676. successful Clearview launch
677. lazy days
678. Matthew 6:28-34 "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

I'm including these pictures from Saturday for no other reason than it makes the photographer in me happy considering they're straight out of the camera. Working on the poor quality pics from my catch-up post (in progress) was making me a bit depressed. Yes, I'm a perfectionist. And, yes, it makes my life (even blogging) more complicated than it should be. Trying to learn to let the perfect go, cause it's impossible to achieve "perfect."

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Busy Week

In the days following chemo, I vacillate between trying to keep my eyes open and talking 100 miles a minute. The steroids made me hyper while the chemo makes me weak and fatigued. The steroids also make me even more impatient than normal. Yes, I am a complete joy to be around on these days. Thankfully, the effects are starting to wear off and I am mostly fatigued at this point.

My mom was in town this week, and we spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday shopping, having lunch at fun places to eat as well as throwing in a little bloodwork, chemo, and a Neulasta shot. I have become incredibly behind on running errands so we took care of lots of necessities while also throwing in some fun shopping. I'm still on my 3 year search for the perfect boot. Tried on several pairs this week and, of course, the only pair that met all my criteria was $275. I actually found them in a magazine at Dr. W's office, tore the page out, then took the picture to the shoe store. They were just about as perfect as I imagined. Minus the pricetag, of course. Becky says shopping for boots is almost as bad as shopping for jeans and swimming suits, and I'm just about ready to agree with her.

The best news of the week is that my CA125 level came back Thursday, and it is down from 35 to 28. I am thankful for the good news, but trying not to let myself be too hopeful because it's been as low as 28 before and this could very well just be the normal bouncing around that my CA125 seems to do.

Thursday and Friday were spent making up for the busy days earlier this week, and we stayed home, finished up some craft projects, baked multiple pumpkin goodies, etc. And when I say "we" I really mean "my mom."

I have way too many pictures to share from the past week (including soccer tournament photos), and honestly the thought of tackling them all is overwhelming me so I'm going to take it easy today and maybe get started on pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hope

I am incredibly lucky to be a part of The Lilypad. It has been my favorite digital scrapping store since its very beginning, and it continues to be my favorite digital place to hang out. And not only is it my favorite hang out, but I have the great privilege of being a part of the Lilypad team. About a week ago I was surprised and humbled to find a note in my inbox from the designers. They have created a beautiful kit in my honor, and I am not sure I could think of anything more encouraging to me personally than this kit full of words of hope and faith. You can purchase it by clicking here if you're a scrapper looking for a gorgeous kit by my favorite designers. Or you can just look at the beautiful pages and say a prayer of thanks for God's goodness in my life.

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Here is the page I scrapped with it.
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And here is Becky's page. I dare you to read it without crying. I certainly can't. Journaling is as follows:

This wasn't supposed to happen.

You were supposed to be safe.

I will never forget those days after my diagnosis as we waited for your genetic test results and Elizabeth's to come back in.  I prayed so hard, begging God to spare you both, asking for you not to carry this burden.  It was negative--big sigh of relief and thanks to God.

You were supposed to be safe.

That night in March as the boys and I drove through the night, I asked God, I prayed, I begged, "please don't let it be, don't let it be."  During your surgery as the hours ticked by each of us getting increasingly nervous, still we prayed, still we asked, and we pleaded....don't let it be, please, God, don't let it be.

And yet, somehow, you weren't safe, and the one thing that I would never want to share with you, in an instant, we shared.  I think that only one who has carried the burden herself can really know the grief of hearing that a sister is diagnosed with cancer, of knowing just a portion of what she will face, the demons that are sure to settle into the back of her mind.

       It's different on this side of things and I don't like it.  If I could, I would take it from you ten times over and yet, now my heart knows what it would be like for you to watch and I don't   know that I could turn that hurt over to you either.

       Safety, like so many things, is all about perspective, and you ARE safe.  I confess to worrying that it may not be the 'safe' that I want, but I know that you are safe, you are held, you are choosing joy, you are shining as a bright light and I am proud of you, of the way you are fighting, and yet will always always mourn that we (as sisters) have shared more than sisters should ever have to share.
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I promise to be back later with news from the week and maybe even a few pictures.