Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hair Products? Can it be?!

Yesterday, I walked down an aisle in Target that I haven't visited in 6 months - hair products. Seeing that I have a whole 1/2 inch of hair on my head, I thought it might be time to buy some product to help with the unruly hairs (the ones that stick straight up like Dennis the Menace).

We have taken the tree down and the Christmas decorations and Christmas is officially over in our house. It is always a little sad to take it down, but I am looking forward to some routine. I have about 6 weeks before radiation begins. I have some weekly appointments in the meantime but I enjoy these breaks in our cancer world where I can just be "mom" for a little while. Not as many moments of explaining to my children that "I can't because of . . ." is a welcome change.

I am also excited that I will begin the New Year with full range of motion in both arms. I am almost 4 weeks post op and am moving my arms in ways I couldn't 2 weeks ago. Thank you to my physical therapist and her encouragement, I will begin strengthening in another week.

Hope all of you had an enjoyable Christmas! Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

I am presently supervising "present placement"

Well, David is asleep and Dawson is quickly on his way. Mommy & Daddy would like to be achieving that same goal very soon so we are putting out the presents now. This year, Christmas is filled with all kinds of thoughts and emotions - "We had no idea last year what this year would bring" . . . "What will happen next year?" . . . even "Will I be here to enjoy this next year?" Unfortunately, all of these thoughts sometimes make me into someone not so filled with the holiday spirit and those close to me are getting to know that "spirit." At the same time, I am finding some moments to be much more enjoyable also - like our Christmas Eve service, David talking about Santa in a logical way, Dawson just repeating "presents?", how many homemade ornaments my children added to our tree this year (everytime they colored a picture in the last couple weeks, it was added to the tree), and the joy of spending Christmas with my family.

Well, my wonderful husband has placed the presents in the proper manner and we will be able to sleep soon. I wish you all a loooonnnggg night's rest (hopefully, no 5 am tugging to open presents) and a very Merry Christmas. Remember to relax and enjoy (and I also know that it is easier said than done).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Hope filled Day

We will be going to sleep tonight feeling a little less anxious. We met with some folks about the pathology report post op and asked the question of what this information means in terms of the future. We were encouraged by the fact that my oncologist still considers me to be cancer free at the moment and will continue with the prescribed course of treatment. He is also realistic and said that I will be monitored very closely following the treatment to see if there is recurrence. We just needed some good news. We were also reminded today of those grace moments - times in everyday life that may seem a little more precious. Those are the moments where we see God's love amidst this sorrow.

I have also started my physical therapy and am getting close to full range of motion. I started driving yesterday and today was able to do the backseat pass. You know - "Mom, I want . . ." and I was able to reach back to the kids and give it to them. That movement was difficult but the desired item was passed.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Big Boy Beds!

I continue in my recovery and loved going to church this morning. I was really beginning to be affected emotionally by not getting out of this house enough. Dave and I were also able to go on a hot date (actually, quite cold) for 20 minutes and walked around the block this afternoon. Today has really lifted my spirits. Yesterday was difficult and the waterworks would start flowing and I had trouble stopping them. I try keeping it together when the boys are around, but when I climb into bed at night, sometimes, it just starts flowing.

We put together a toddler bed for Dawson yesterday. We were torn on whether to keep the child caged longer or not. The toddler bed doesn't require lifting but he is able to escape and escape he did. It was only a couple times, though. We kept the crib together just in case it wasn't working, but the way Dawson was talking about his "big boy bed" made us think he wasn't going back to the crib. This afternoon, he didn't want to get in his bed for his nap and I asked him if he wanted to go in his crib like a baby and his response was "No baby" so Dave is cleared to take it apart. I was looking at that crib yesterday and recalling some memories. I also realized it would probably be the last time we use it. Just more tears.

Friday, December 14, 2007

My Boys Are Back!

My boys returned last night and it wasn't quite the reunion I envisioned. Sure, everyone was happy to see each other but I was quickly told that I was not doing something the way that Gam did it and there were tears flowing. Reality set in but I was ready to get back into life as we usually know it around here. Granted, Dawson being awake and crying for about 1 hour wasn't exactly the reality I remembered.

I have accomplished many small everyday tasks in the last few days. I was able to take care of more of the boys' needs than I expected, but I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that they were cooperating!

I met with the breast surgeon yesterday. Everything looks good and he gave me some practical tips to help me avoid injury. He also told us that the cancer that was found in the right lymphnodes is the same as the other side, but they can not pinpoint how it got there. No cancer was found in the right breast or its skin. We will still meet with the oncologist to get his take on it. I have also been cleared to start physical therapy. We have a busy week next week, Dawson has a feeding evaluation and will begin his speech and physical therapy, I already have 3 doctors' appointments scheduled, and David has his Christmas program at school. So, I think I will just begin after Christmas. I have exercises to do at home in the meantime.

Thank you for all of your cards and prayers and I am planning on going to church this Sunday - big outing!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Doctor Update

I met with the oncologist today. My big question is "Why did we find this cancer?" He said that there is only a 20% chance that I would go into this surgery and no cancer would be found. They have found positive lymph nodes on both sides and cancer in the left breast. The pathologist spoke with the doctor while we were in the office. He was still checking the right breast for cancer. The main thing he wants the pathologist to check is to see if the cancer found on the right side is an estrogen/progesterone receptor. This would be different than the kind in my left. What that would mean is they put me on an additional long-term drug.

He didn't seem too concerned. We will meet with him again next week to talk about the final pathology report. At this point, my treatment will remain the same. I love this doctor because I always feel hopeful when I leave his office. We had met with other doctors, where we felt like my days were numbered. He has always been honest with us that I have a very serious and dangerous form of cancer, but looks at what we have beaten as opposed to what might still be out there.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Good squeezes from the boys

I was able to see the boys last night for about an hour. They both hugged my neck and it was the best feeling in the world. Dawson just laid his head on my shoulder and wanted me to hold him. He was really upset as I was leaving. David just said, "Mom, I really miss you." But, they are having a good time with Pop and Gam.

Dave went to McDonald's with everyone for lunch today. He was quickly reminded of the chaos known as David and Dawson.

I see the oncologist tomorrow for a scheduled IV drug but we will be talking to him also about this new development. I don't know if they will have the pathology report back or not. I am not sure what the best news would be or what the courses of treatment are, if any. This is upsetting to me and I have had to distract my mind from all of the thoughts associated with this. We need more answers and get to wait - again.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers!

I opened several cards, emails, and voicemail messages today. Thank you all for thinking of me and praying for me through the surgery and my recovery. I had a few surprise visits today, too. I have been doing my exercises, nothing too crazy, but just trying to get my arms stretched and more range of motion. I am discovering how many muscles it takes to open a childproof vitamins bottle!

Just knowing that so many people care is so encouraging.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Pain pills are a good friend!

Okay, I am sitting here at home with an 8 pound laptop on my lap (10 pounds is my limit), arms propped up, and pain pills that have just kicked in! When my surgeon told me this morning that cancer was found in my "good" side, I was concerned but more relieved in the choices we have made through this journey. Some of those choices were 6 months ago when we decided to change surgeons. If I hadn't chosen to have the right breast removed also, the cancer in those lymph nodes would not have been discovered until later. This is how the surgeon put it to us, "Another year from now, and it would have come back." Our lives would have been on the track to our new normal, and we would have to go through all of this again. It is so encouraging to me how God has guided our decisions.

My hospital roommate had the same surgery I did. She and I compared notes and were able to help each other through some tough times. I am so comforted by God's hands in all of this. We will get through this, one day at a time.

On a lighter note, I called Pop and Gam to talk to the boys. Pop answered the phone and went to fetch David. Well, David apparently had better things to do than speak to his mother who is recovering from major surgery - he was watching a movie and did not appreciate the interruption. Pop "encouraged" him to speak to his mother and he promptly got on the phone. He told me about the snow and his field trip today to the Christmas tree farm. Dawson was also very excited about the snow. I miss them - this house is too quiet without them here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Day of Thankfulness and Sadness

Barbara is resting in her hospital room right now. I hope she has a good night's rest. She made it through the surgery.

We are thanking God because he gave her the wisdom to pursue a bilateral mastectomy. It's a good thing she did, because the surgical team found new active cancer cells in some of the lymph nodes that were extracted from her right side. They will be sent off to the lab for further analysis to determine whether they are of the same type she has had or if she has a new type.

Please keep us in your prayers.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

An Early Christmas

Well, we celebrated Christmas this weekend with our families and it was really fun. It was a great distraction from what is about to happen on Tuesday.
Now, the distractions have run out and reality has set in. I will be saying goodbye to some good friends on Tuesday.
I entertained my family this afternoon with some of the things I was doing. My mind was certainly not in the right place as I covered sweet potatoes with provolone cheese (the cheese was meant for meatballs, not sweet potatoes), reheated the pumpkin pie instead of my lunch, and was generally a mess. I have a million things running through my head and find myself overwhelmed emotionally. We attended a special Christmas Carol Service tonight and singing those Christmas songs really got to me. Tucking in my children also has new meaning. Hugs are also wonderful because I won't be able to get them for awhile.
I will close with a line from my favorite Christmas Carol, "O Holy Night" - In all our trials born to be our friend. He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger.
I will have Dave update you with my status post-op.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

We have spent the last few days enjoying our time together, while also trying to prepare our house for the holidays and family gatherings. My list is almost done, but I am tired. I am not sleeping well (to be expected) and am trying to be Superwoman (and Supermom).

Dave has class this evening, so I am on my own with the boys tonight. I am planning on resting this afternoon while Dawson naps, but I just need my mind to rest also. We met with the cosmetic surgeon today to talk about the surgery and I left feeling a little better about what is happening. She is laid back and really listens to our concerns and questions. We always feel hopeful leaving her office. I had a moment of quiet in the car today and took the opportunity for prayer. "God, I am trusting you with this surgery. I don't what is going to happen, what complications, if any, but I trust Him."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is an unseasonably warm Thanksgiving day here in Wilmington - 70 degrees at the moment! We have so much to be thankful for and we are looking at today as much more than just a day to eat! We are seen here with Dave's parents. Barbara's family will be coming into town in just another week.

Truly wishing you and your family blessings upon blessings for the year to come. Love, The Anderson Family

Saturday, November 17, 2007

More lists!

I met with the physical therapist yesterday who explained to me what exercises I can do as soon as possible after surgery. I was a little overwhelmed. Dave and I are going to create some sort of checklist to follow so I will actually do everything I am supposed to do. Coach Dave is going to have to push me to do some, because the therapist said that there are some I will not want to do. It will be uncomfortable but I need to keep in mind the benefit of doing them - getting back to normal, sooner rather than later!

Before I met with her, I arrived early and decided to sit in the parking lot and eat my lunch. (Arriving early is a rare occurrence for me!) So, I enjoyed listening to the radio and the solitude for a few minutes. Then it hit me - the next time I come to this office, I will be changed. So much of my life will be different! I will be 2-4 weeks post-op and will not be skipping down the sidewalk to her office. The song on the radio confirmed that "He has promised good to me." The vision of God walking (slowly) beside me as I entered that building the next time came to mind; the pain in His face as I struggle with everyday tasks; and, the love. God will get to you in those quiet moments, when you least expect it. The therapist said that I was handling all of this pretty well. I told her, "You didn't see me crying in the parking lot."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My boys

I am going to take this opportunity to talk about my boys. I have really enjoyed spending time with them and not feeling so sick and tired. David and I had started reading a large book over the summer (300+ pages). We didn't get very far before we had to return it to the library. I remember thinking that the chapters were so long and difficult to read. I now realize that they weren't as long as I remember. We were reading that book while I was receiving the chemo treatments and everything seemed labored. I am enjoying it much more this time around!

I had to get new shoes for the boys the other day and as we were approaching the mall, David asked if we could get Crocs. I asked how he even knows what crocs are! He told me he knows a lot of things because he is in Kindergarten.. When we got to the store, the first thing he asked the saleswoman was, "Do you have Skechers?" I thought I had more time before brand names became important.

Today, David was very proud of himself. He informed me at 7:30 a.m. that he had cleaned up our playroom, because he is "just a good guy."

Dawson has also made his Daddy proud. Whenever he wakes up in the middle of the night, his first request is to watch Elmo (that isn't what makes Dave proud). When that is denied, his next request is football. Unfortunately for Dawson, neither one is on at 5 a.m., or at least not in our house.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Prep mode

I spent Dawson's nap today wrapping Christmas presents. Yes, it is only the middle of November but we will be celebrating with Barbara's family at the end of this month. I am happy that the stores have started stocking their shelves after Halloween. This way, I get to enjoy all of the Christmas merchandise!

My mind has trouble thinking about something other than this surgery - how it is going to affect me and my family. I meet with a physical therapist this week to discuss what will happen after the surgery. Christmas shopping and wrapping is a nice distraction!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Moved Mountains

I had the opportunity to speak last weekend at a Ladies' Tea. One of my topics was how we don't always know everything that is happening in a friend's life. The analogy I used was based on the lyrics of a song which said, "Don't get comfortable, I'm going to move this mountain. Then, I'm going to move you with it." I told how God sure moved a mountain in my life, but some of the "moved mountains" in other people's lives aren't always as noticeable. I spoke how the love and encouragement we show to a friend could be much more needed than we know. Some of the phone calls, cards, emails, etc. that I have received have come at a time when I was in great need of support.

One morning this week, I was lying in bed, thinking about our day and a friend came to mind. I thought that it would be nice to visit her, but wasn't sure of her schedule. I had a significant prompting to call her, so I did to see if Dawson and I could visit. She was available so we stopped by her house. We had a great visit and as I was leaving, she told me that she had wondered if her husband sparked this visit. The day before, she was having a rough time and really needed a friend. She thought maybe her husband had contacted me and told me what was happening. He didn't call me, but God laid her on my heart and He knew about her moved mountain. His goodness shines through!

More good news!

Back on October 11th, I posted that Dawson was going to have a developmental evaluation. We went to that on November 1st. The tests showed that he was delayed, but not delayed enough to qualify for services. Both the speech and physical therapists completed a clinical judgment form that would go before a committee to decide, based on their judgment, whether he would qualify. I received the news yesterday that he has been accepted for therapy. This means that we will not need to go through a private agency. We are very pleased that he will be receiving therapy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

We have a date!

I met with the surgeon today and my surgery is scheduled for December 4. The scheduling nurse first said that she had this Friday available and I almost had a heart attack! But, with coordinating schedules with the cosmetic surgeon and the OR, December 4th was the first date all of that could come together.

The surgeon explained to us what will be happening in the surgery. Prior to meeting with him, we knew what would be happening with the affected side and thought we knew with the other side. But, after speaking with him and the way things looked on my MRI pre-chemo, he wants to test the sentinel node on the other side also. I was thinking that my underarm would not need to be cut on that side, but he wants to make sure everything is out of there. I want to treat this aggressively, but just wasn't prepared for that.

We are now in prep mode - mentally and physically. How do you prepare for something like this?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Overflowing with Joy

The news of those test results is really starting to hit me - I don't have cancer anymore! David has heard me talking about it and said at dinner tonight that since the cancer is gone, I don't need to get that yucky medicine anymore (chemo). We told him that he was right and he asked if it meant I needed to do anything else. We explained to him what is next but emphasized that all of this needs to happen to try and keep the cancer from coming back.

I have had the opportunity to talk to many people this week about a lot of the struggles I have faced. I was also able to share how I have been blessed in the midst of this tragedy. I just feel like I am on cloud nine and am at peace with finishing the course of treatment. I had really feared this surgery because of the recovery. But, I feel like since I had chemo, I can take almost anything. Where's that Rocky theme song?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fantastic news!

Well, the news you have been waiting for - the tests were negative for cancer. Based on the scans, bloodwork, and physical exam, I am considered to be in clinical remission. I still need to go through surgery and radiation, but the chemo worked. Microscopic cancer cells may still be present and that is why the course of treatment remains the same. They will test the tissue that they remove during surgery.

I feel like I can stop holding my breath! I am also very tired and am looking forward to sleeping better. My 2 favorite words these days - cure and remission.

Today is Dawson's 2nd birthday - what a day to celebrate!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Longwood Gardens

Dave had a lot of schoolwork to do today so I try to keep all of us out of his hair. The boys also needed to get out of the house since we have had 4 straight days of rain. At one point this morning, Dawson was amusing himself by pulling tape off of the dispenser. I noticed this while a Frisbee thrown by David whizzed by my head - needless to say, we needed a change of scenery. Longwood Gardens opened a new Indoor Children's Garden this weekend. We were prepared to hike through the pouring rain to get to it, but the sun popped out as soon as we pulled up to the Garden. A fun time was had by all and yes, that is Dawson attempting to climb into the fountain.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Time to wait

Well, I had 2 tests this week to see if the cancer is gone. I get to WAIT until Monday to find out the test results. Monday is also Dawson's 2nd birthday. We are hoping and praying that Monday is a day to celebrate many things.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Even shopping is different!

I went shopping with a friend a few days ago to get out of the house. (Meaning - I shuffled around Old Navy, stopped frequently, and Dave took care of the boys). I saw all kinds of cute Fall clothes. I was reminded that in about 1 month, I will not be able to pull shirts over my head, and will not be the same body anymore. I also had to consider what radiation will do to my skin and what I will look like with prosthetics. So, certain cuts of tops were out of the question. Just another reminder of this battle!

Team Barbara

Team Barbara walked this morning. Robin and I sat on the sidelines and cheered everyone on. I was overwhelmed in the car at the thought of so many people there to support me and the battle against breast cancer. I also ran into my high school volleyball coach and had a great talk with her. Unfortunately, half my household is not feeling well now. I am feeling okay, tired but happy to have been able to join the event. Thank you to all of you who support me by reading these blog updates.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Moments I don't want to forget.

The other night, I wasn't able to do much more than lay in bed but the boys joined me to read some books. Dawson kissed my head (with a mouth full of milk). Of course, I made a big deal about the milk kiss, so then David joined in too. They kept planting these wet kisses on my fuzzy head and we just had a good time. Milk kisses . . . moments I don't want to forget.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Just needed a pick-me-up

I continue to feel overwhelmed by all of the appointments coming up. I also spoke with Dawson's case manager from ChildWatch today to have a developmental evaluation done for Dawson. And, daytime television is flooded with emotional moments. Anyway, my mailman came much later today than usual and delivered some much needed pick-me-ups. My mail included some cards from friends with encouraging words and there was also a package from my oncologist's office. I'm thinking, "Great, more paperwork to fill out." It was an outstanding achievement certificate stating that I had completed my chemo treatments with flying colors and was signed by all of the chemo nurses. I have received diplomas and certificates before, but this one I had to work the hardest to receive. It brought tears of joy (but my boys still don't understand that concept).

Monday, October 8, 2007

Pierced by Audio Adrenaline

I was enjoying my iPod today during my treatment and some lyrics to a song by Audio Adrenaline really stuck with me. It was the encouragement I needed.

"Make me, take me, break me, I am pierced
Though I am wounded and unworthy
Though I am selfish and untrue
You are holy, You're the healer
You forgave me and made me new
Oh, this love, how can it be
That my God would die for me
For my sins, His wounds did bleed
Jesus, you were pierced for me"

It's over (hopefully)!

Well, I had my last chemo treatment. I had a list of questions for the doctor about what I can and can't do in the upcoming weeks. I have realized that I am now back to prodding and poking. I have lots of appointments scheduled with surgeons, plastic surgeons, and tests. Also, I am trying to squeeze in the everyday appointments too, like dentist appointments for the boys and for me, well visits for the boys, etc.

I felt more anxious today about my last chemo than any other treatment. You would think that I would be jumping for joy right? Just so much more on my mind. The oncologist is confident that the scans I have scheduled in a few weeks will show less cancer. I have also begun the process of preparing for surgery.

I felt like I was stepping into the ring this morning, ready to fight this beast, but that quickly turned into a whole lot of anxiety. When I walked David into school this morning, I spotted a friend and we began singing the "Rocky" theme music. That song was also played at our wedding reception when we were introduced. I have the song in my profile, if you would like to hear it.

One thing that helped today was that we talked to the oncologist about having a bilateral mastectomy, to remove the healthy breast as a preventive measure. He asked if we had made a decision and I told him I was leaning in that direction. I told him my reasons why and he told me that he could support that decision.

I now get to endure my chemo week, with some confidence that this is the last time I will have to go through this.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Only 1 more left!

This has been quite a week for me - emotionally and physically! Yesterday, I woke up not feeling well and I didn't feel able to keep up with my ball of energy, also known as a 2 year old named Dawson. My wonderful mother-in-law took him unexpectedly and I took 2 naps. Today, I am feeling much better.

Lots of things have happened this week - from my Internet going down (an inconvenience) to receiving bad news about 2 friends' cancer status, along with some other things in between. I am also hesitant to be too excited about my last chemo treatment on Monday. I have some tests scheduled at the end of this month to see what the cancer looks like after chemo. I have heard a lot lately about people who thought the cancer was responding and then test results come back saying otherwise. I had a chat with God last night about my doubts and how I want my faith to believe that this cancer is gone or at least on the path of going away. He has brought me this far and looking back on the last 4 months, there have been some difficult moments, but overall, it hasn't been too bad. I know He will give me strength, no matter what the results are.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A lot on my mind

Well, let's see - Dawson is sick and seems to have gotten worse as the day went on. I will be taking him to the doctor in the morning to see what is going on with his horrible cough. He also had a fever today and was generally miserable. I need to be very careful around him so I do not get sick. I have 1 chemo left in 9 days and want to get this over with. If I become sick too, it will delay that last treatment.

I have also found out that a friend is now facing cancer. My heart breaks for her and the pain that she is about to endure. I think about her family and their struggles. This disease blows into your life and wreaks havoc. My prayer for her and her family is for peace and rest - the 2 things you need the most and seem to get the least.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

David's 5 birthday

Yesterday was David's birthday and my baby has now turned 5! I can't believe it. He had a great birthday, filled with excitement. Spiderman actually showed up at his school to wish him happy birthday, but David was on to the fact he wasn't real because he said he could see his eyes through the mask. I don't know about David, but I was pretty tired at the end of his day!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Breast Cancer Walk

I guess that picture of my big forehead worked! Over $1000 has been raised for the Breast Cancer walk. "Team Barbara" is now in the top 10 teams! It is still unbelievable to me that so many people are willing to give of their time and money to support me and the American Cancer Society.

I am feeling better than I was yesterday. I am still trying to recover from this cold. The cold and recovering from chemo has led to a lot of sleep. My body is just tuckered out.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk

A fellow survivor told me she is leading "Team Barbara" on October 14 at the Making strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. I couldn't believe it until I saw my name on the website! If you would like to join the team or find out more information about the walk, you can go to I hope to be there if I can. I may not be able to walk but I hope to see the event. Thank you to all who are participating!!

It was a close one!

I was scheduled for chemo today but wasn't sure if it was going to happen. Even the nurse who drew my blood felt the same way. I woke up Friday afternoon with a head cold/ cough thing and it was in full force last night. This morning, I felt pretty sick and wasn't sure if my counts would be high enough for chemo. Fortunately, they were actually higher this round than last treatment. I was able to go through with it. Not that I am exciting to be getting chemo, but want to stay on the course of treatment and not put things off longer than necessary.

I was able to rejoice with a fellow patient today. She and I are on the same schedule and today was her last chemo. We have sat next to each other a few times and she is a such a pleasure to talk to. Dave joked with her that she would be running for the door on her way out. That will be me on my next treatment (and I will be running for the door)!! When my chemo is done, I will still need to go back every 3 weeks for Herceptin. I will need to do that until next June. So, I will still need to walk into that room every 3 weeks but will be able to walk out with little to no side effects.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

#5 on Monday

Monday is the 5th treatment. Only 1 more after that. I don't feel as anxious about it. I have tried to explain why in logical terms - "I must be an old pro at this" or "I am nearing the end of this part of the cancer treatment." How about "God's grace"? There is a peace that I have not felt in the past. Sure, all of the side effects are in the back of my mind but I don't feel like I need to scramble around the house to make everything perfect for everyone else that week. The "caregiver" is actually okay with others taking care of her.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

As some of you know, today is my birthday. I have to admit, I woke up a little grumpy this morning but that has turned around. I have been flooded with emails, phone calls, and cards wishing me a happy birthday. This evening, I will be sharing my story with a small group from church. What better day to do it than the day we celebrate life?!

I am long over the stomach problems from my last treatment, but my body gets very fatigued at this time of day. I will take a nap but the rest of the day is a struggle. This is to be expected because of the cumulative effects of the chemo. I have my fifth treatment on Monday and I am too tired to think about it.

Monday, September 3, 2007

One week down

Well, it has been one week since my chemo treatment and I am beginning to feel like myself again. This last treatment wasn't quite as hard to get over as others in the past. I even called the doctor's office about it and was asked why I was complaining. The suggestion was that I now have an idea what to expect and am better preparing myself.

Dawson has not been himself lately. It seems to be more than just the adjustment of chemo week. He has been very whiny and crabby. We aren't sure what is going on with him.

David starts Kindergarten tomorrow and there is a lot of excitement - new school supplies, new teacher and turning 5 soon.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's Thursday already?

This treatment has been easier to handle (so far). I believe it is because my parents are here and I have "life" in the house, even while the boys are at childcare. I am realizing how important it is for me to have people around me right now. It takes my mind off of what is happening and keeps me from focusing too much on the physical side effects.

Monday, August 27, 2007

(Not) Ready for what is next

Have you ever had to do something you REALLY didn't want to do? One of those things where you have to, no choice about it, but you almost had to force your feet to take the steps to get to it. Welcome to chemo! I am so reluctant to do this now because I know what is on the end of things. I had my 4th treatment today and was much more emotional prior to the chemo day than I have been in the past. It started yesterday and just continued until they hooked me up today. I was sitting in the chair waiting for my meds and an emotional (tidal) wave flooded me. Dave went to get some water and asked me if I needed anything. My response was, "Yes, take me home." I was sitting next to a woman who told me that she thinks that it is Jesus' blood flowing through her veins during chemo and His blood will fight that cancer.

My parents are in town this week and I am looking forward to their company and help. It will relieve Dave of a lot of the responsibility. Not to mention, both grandparents and grandchildren will be very happy.

More tests are being scheduled to take a look at everything before surgery. My oncologist said to me that I only have 6 weeks from today before my last chemo. 6 weeks doesn't seem too long to me today. Talk to me tomorrow and we'll see how long that seems.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Doctor's Orders: Slow Down

I have been feeling pretty great the last week or so and have enjoyed being with the boys. We have done all kinds of things together. But, by the evening, my body is so worn down and I am getting headaches about that same time. I called the doctor's office about this because I know everything could be related to the chemo. I just had an MRI of the brain in June and that came out normal. I also have glaucoma (I am young for that diagnosis) but just saw my eye doctor about 2 weeks ago. Basically, if I can manage them with a mild pain reliever, they are related to the fact that I am "taking care of small children and getting chemo." It seems to be my body's reaction to lack of rest. Obviously, if they get worse, I need to contact the doctor again. I will be there on Monday receiving chemo anyway. I am so happy to be able to take care of them, I am not taking care of myself.

I took the boys to a free movie yesterday, "Charlotte's Web." David and I were talking about what meat comes from a pig, when he pointed out to me that Charlotte died. He said, "It was her time." We talked a lot about death and he had a lot of questions. That was not an easy conversation to have with my soon-to-be 5 year old. But, those are the moments I don't want to forget.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Moments I don't want to forget.

I had been writing in a journal when we first found out the news of the cancer. It has now become harder to concentrate long enough to write. (Typing is easier!) So, I just started making lists of things I don't want to forget. It is amazing at the end of the day how long that list becomes. It is difficult for me to remember things from one day to the next but this list makes me feel like I won't forget the memorable moments of each day.

I had a good day with the boys today. I took David to his last gymnastics class for the summer and then we went to the pool. I sported a new hatless look at the pool and only noticed one person staring at me! It is just too hot to put a hat on my head. David was a little concerned that I wasn't wearing a hat. He asked me, "What if someone is sad to see that you are sick?" I told him that they could talk to me about it. He said, "What if they think you look funny?" I told him, "What if they do? It doesn't matter."

Monday, August 13, 2007

I'm done, thanks!

Yesterday, I had a bit of a breakdown about this cancer thing. Is it over yet? I'm just tired of feeling sick and tired. I did feel well enough to go to church last night but still have moments throughout the day when I don't feel well. It is better than it was last week. I just miss feeling like myself. Both my brain and body are not their usual selves. I was reading something recently that referred to "running the race." How can I run a race when I still have trouble getting through Target? It seems like the race is sooooo long! I have been thinking a lot about what I still have yet to do - 3 more rounds of chemo, surgery, radiation and then surgery again. I try not to think about it but it seems to consume my brain, especially when I am sick. I told Dave that "I can't do this anymore." Was it ever me doing it in the first place? I always had trouble understanding what grace meant. I am beginning to understand that grace is something you need to see with your heart. Thank God that He is strong enough to get me through this, because I am not.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I feel like I am so close to being back to my old self, but I just can't jump that hurdle! I have had worse stomach problems this round and they seem to be hanging on forever. Today was the first Sunday that I wasn't able to go to church with my family due to physical problems. I knew that with each treatment, the recovery would be harder and longer but I guess I still hoped it wouldn't happen. I'm going to try to go to the evening service. Church was just something "normal" I could do with my family, not to mention it helped my spirits.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Goodbye Loneliness!

I think I am starting to figure out this chemo thing and how to get through it. This is Day 3 of chemo and in the past has been my worst. I really struggled with it last time and thought I would try something new this time. I had some ladies from church just come sit with me today. We would talk about the cancer when I felt like it. We would also talk about raising boys, planning weddings, and just everyday stuff. And when I needed to rest, I did. It was so helpful to have someone in the house today even when I was sleeping. There are some days I enjoy being home alone but today is not one of them. Having people around really helped to speed up the day.

Monday, August 6, 2007

A Day at the Beach and A Day at Chemo

We have returned from our vacation to NC and it was wonderful, relaxing and beautiful. The boys had a good time (although Dawson does not travel well so he was challenging at times). David was able to go fishing with Dave and he also spent lots of time jumping waves. More importantly, pirates invaded our island for the weekend and you know David was just in awe.

More good news from the doctor today and we now have an idea when the next step will take place. If the treatments stay on track, I will have my last treatment in October and surgery in November. I had my third treatment today and am now halfway done! The tumor continues to respond and it is hopeful that after surgery, all cancer cells in that breast will be gone.
I wrote myself a letter today to encourage me in the times this week when I think I can't do this anymore. (I don't always write about that part.) Dave read it and laughed at things like, "I will stop shuffling." I get an old man shuffle about midweek because of the weakness and I shuffle to take David and Dawson to their childcares. The letter also says things to help me draw on God's strength when mine is gone.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Ever since the news went out about my diagnosis, not a day has gone by without us receiving a card or package in the mail, an encouraging email or phone call. I must confess that I do forget to tell people thank you sometimes for the cards, etc. but we do appreciate every thought and prayer lifted on our behalf.

I think the same gremlins who added stairs to our house have also been hiding things. Dave and I scoured the house yesterday for a prescription that I picked up at the pharmacy and then it mysteriously disappeared. Throughout the course of the evening, we were on the search for other things and some of them turned up today when I wasn't looking for them - that is how this usually turns out, right? This morning I was still stressed about the lost prescription, and at one point made the comment to David that I was losing my mind. Now, David has been saying all day that he has "lost his sense and his brain." Well, he's trying to get it right. On a more serious note, he also told me that he wanted to go live with someone else because he is sad to see me sick. Ouch. He made that comment a few days after chemo and I was still not getting around well. Since I have been feeling better, he seems to be okay. It was still tough to swallow.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I have been left alone with the children!

Today is the first day in about 12 days that I have been alone with the boys and it was great. I think I was so excited to be feeling better, I wore them out (and myself)! We didn't hear a peep after they laid down for bed.

I was thinking the other day about all of the plans I had for this summer - going lots of places, teaching David to tie his shoes and getting him prepared for Kindergarten, spending time with the boys each day doing some kind of educational activity, etc. We found out about the cancer the first week of June and my summer "plans" have changed. It is now the end of July and David doesn't know how to tie his shoes, we haven't gone to all of the places I wanted to, and formal education has not taken place every day. I am now realizing that it is okay. Time spent with my children doesn't have to be so organized and purposeful. The most important thing about that time is just being together - pushing them on the swings in the backyard, watching Dawson chase the neighborhood cat, going for walks around the neighborhood while David makes skid marks with his bike, and just snuggling on the couch. I still find myself rushing them sometimes when it isn't necessary, but I would like to think that we have all slowed down a bit to enjoy.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Feeling better

I went to the Philadelphia Zoo yesterday with Dave and the boys and Robin. I realized after the fact that it may have been too much. It started out as a fairly cool day but turned quickly to a warm day. I sat down a lot but just couldn't cool down. We had a good time, but I was worthless the rest of the evening. One more day and I should be able to keep the boys home with me.

When I met with the oncologist last week, he said that the tumor is responding very well to the chemo and I should be "ecstatic." My next question was, "Do I still have to do all of the treatments?" and he told me I did. He also used the word "cure." I am happy that the tumor is getting smaller, but I am still trying to catch up to the fact that all of this is happening.

I am so happy to be feeling better.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Day 3 of chemo

The day is almost over. This is one of those days that drags on forever. My physical being is exhausted but can't rest because of restlessness. My emotional being is on overload. That is harder for me than the physical part. I miss the boys but can't have them home because I can't take care of them. I know maybe another day or so of feeling this way and then I will be on my upswing. Now that I have this new port, I was wondering if God could pump some strength right into it?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Ready for some R & R

The port insertion went well and I was the only one in the recovery area of the Surgicenter not throwing up. My right arm is very heavy today and every time I move it, I pull the stitches. The port is near my collar bone on the right side. I am going to take it easy today and the boys are at my in-laws having a grand ole time.

I was nervous going into this. I know it is a standard procedure, blah, blah, blah. That doesn't mean I can't be nervous though, right? I also had to leave the boys yesterday which I haven't had to do for awhile because I was feeling so good. It gets harder and harder to leave them every time. They are okay, but I'm not. You know, I would leave them at their childcares before all this when I went to work, but this is different. Every time I leave them now, it is because of cancer or something related to it.

I prayed for God's peace and presence yesterday morning because I just wasn't feeling it. I busied myself in the morning so I wouldn't think about the procedure (and how hungry I was - fasting is not my gift). I shared this prayer with Dave on our way to the Surgicenter. 2 things happened while I was there. My OB/GYN's nurse came in to deliver some charts. I have become very friendly with her and she is a breast cancer survivor of 5 years. She was leaving for vacation to the Outer Banks and it just sounded awesome. A friend offered for us to come to their beachhouse in North Carolina in a few weeks but we weren't sure about going. Talking with Peggy and the idea of a relaxing vacation just sounded awesome. We have decided to go. Also, my Prep nurse asked me about my job. I shared with her that I was a church secretary and she began sharing with me about her church. She was a Christian and I was able to speak openly about my fears and she encouraged me. Talk about God's presence!

I received an e-mail from Rose Marie Miller yesterday. She is the author of a book, "From Fear to Freedom." I just led a Bible Study on that book and think I highlighted 90% of it. I couldn't believe she was talking to me! She shared with me some verses in Psalms that she read while going through her cancer and her husband's illness. These are some parts that stood out to me, O LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief. The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness . . . So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed. For your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life; in Your righteousness, bring me out of trouble. In Your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am Your servant.

The other thing that kept coming to my mind yesterday while I was waiting for this procedure is a VBS song David has been singing for weeks, "God is good, all the time" The exact words are not coming to my mind today, but yesterday they were in there. It says something to the effect that though I walk through the valley, I will not fear for He will keep me safe and strong. What a blessing my family has been to me.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Slicing and Dicing

This entry is not from Barb. This one is from her husband. She is resting, at least comfortably for now. Thank God for good drugs, though she is still not sharing any with me!

The surgeon told her she couldn't eat 12 hours before surgery; so she didn't get her first meal until late this afternoon. Friendly's take out never tasted so good! It think she liked the Reese's peanut butter swirl ice cream "thingy" the best.

Anyway, I'm grateful for a great surgeon and a strong wife! Thanks again to all of you for your prayers and support. Thanks especially to those of you who gave Barbara those gift baskets. We cashed in our gift card getting the Friendly's food. It was wonderful and is such a blessing to be supported by such a great group of family, church family and friends.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The countdown has begun!

Well, I am now sporting a new do - or what is left of it. I finally had to have a friend cut it very short because it was a mess - patches some places, bald others, and needless to say, making a mess everywhere. Some hairs are still hanging on but not many. The boys have done much better with it than I expected. I can go natural around the house and no one screams in horror.

Tomorrow, I am having a port-a-cath put in so the doctors can stick me less. Monday is my next treatment. I am trying to get all of my ducks in a row before the next treatment, but find myself seriously stressing right now. I feel like I am preparing for an extended vacation where I will have no contact with the outside world - although, this is no vacation and I will have contact. Someone asked me, "What will happen if you don't get all of these things done?" "But I have to do them" is not really an accurate answer. I feel like I have to do them. I finally had to ask for help and am feeling much better. I know, I know - I should have just asked for help in the first place. I am still learning how to take care of myself.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

My hair's days are numbered.

Well, it happened. Shortly before giving Dawson a bath, I scratched my head and removed a large clump of hair. As I "helped" it come out, I looked over to find Dawson, now 20 months old, pulling his hair and placing it in the trash can. It brought humor to a mournful experience.

David wanted to read a book tonight, "Where's Mom's Hair?" once he found out what was happening. Dave had to read it because I just couldn't even read the first page. I'm feeling a lot of things - sad, obviously, but also angry. This is just another reminder of what is happening to me and will be a reminder every time I look in the mirror, regardless of how I am feeling that day.

The good part about this is that I got to go shopping. I have some new accessories to show off and David keeps telling me, "Mom, that looks beautiful." Dawson, on the other hand, screams and runs away from me or tries to rip it off my head. We are going to have to work on that . . .

Monday, July 2, 2007

Still feeling good!

Altogether, I am still feeling good (and can even "forget" about things for a little while.) We had a great weekend. David, Aunt Robin and I sailed on a tall ship yesterday on the Wilmington Waterfront and there were pirates aboard. We had a nice time and a beautiful day. Today, we went to Bellevue State Park and the good news is I am not totally exhausted. I have enjoyed being able to do "normal" things with my family. I had a little bit of a setback today because of an infection but it looks like a course of antibiotics should treat it.

I used to get so frustrated at the waiting that seems to take place constantly. Waiting to get test results, waiting to feel better, waiting to feel worse, waiting to lose my hair. I have decided to stop waiting and start enjoying. Enjoying my hair, enjoying the time with my family, enjoying everything there is to enjoy. A Bible verse came to mind as I enjoy my hair -
Matthew 10:29-31: Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Friday, June 29, 2007

What a day!!

Today has been so exceptional, I don't even know where to start. First of all, the cancer has not spread. There are some lymph nodes that are suspicious, but we knew that was the case and they should be zapped with chemo. The tumor has shrunk "dramatically" (to use the oncologist's words) and the results from the first treatment are "outstanding."

A friend of ours also put up a fence to trap our boys in the backyard. We had put this project on hold for now, but a friend showed up and wanted to help.

I also received 2 incredible baskets of goodies from my friends at church. I was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness put into the baskets. People really knew what I needed to lift my spirits.

Last week, I was about to do my devotions and thought to my self that I could really use a book geared towards women like me. Guess what arrived in the mail the next day from a friend I hadn't even shared this with? A devotional for breast cancer. This is happened with numerous other things - a new tote bag, a blanket for chemo, and even an ipod. I just thought "That would be nice to have" and it shows up! Dave wants me to wish for a boat . . .

Thursday, June 28, 2007

On the way up!

I had my last (scheduled) test today. Also, as of today, I have nothing scheduled for next week! We meet with the oncologist tomorrow and I am sure he will schedule something for me to do but for now I am enjoying the empty calendar.

I spoke with a Care Coordinator from the Cancer Center today and one of the programs they offer is to connect me with another woman about the same age with children who is at least 6 months out of treatement. I am looking forward to talking to another mom with young children and see how she did it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Who knew we were so loved?

Before this happened, we knew there were a lot of people who cared for us and loved us. But, we have been overwhelmed by the cards, emails, gifts, and dinners we have received from those we know and some we don't! Thank you again for the kindness and thoughtfulness shown to our family.

I am feeling better - physically and emotionally. Still having some bouts with nausea and of course, fatigue, but it is manageable.

I had to take the boys to childcare yesterday and today, but feel like I actually have something left to give when they get home. I can spend the evening with my family, eating dinner, baths, etc. instead of collapsing at 6 p.m.

Monday, June 25, 2007

When will this be over?

I can't stand feeling like this. 5 seconds longer is too long. I realized today that I am not able to take care of my children by myself (when I am feeling like this). I am their mother and that is my job. I know I have to go through this to care for them ultimately, but it was a very difficult thing for me to admit. Please continue to pray for strength.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sunday rest

Who knew that getting ready to go to church could be so exhausting? We went and I came home to collapse afterwards. I have been having some stomach issues and feel tired most of the time. My prayer is for strength and energy. By the way, who added more stairs to our house because it feels like we have about a 100 right now!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I did it!

The first treatment was yesterday afternoon and was very uneventful - which is a good thing. No reactions (which was common with one of my drugs) so they didn't have to put me on Benadryl, which would have meant Dave would have had to carry me out of the place. They did give me a steroid and anti-nausea med to couteract the effects of the chemo. Both are still working, and as Dave put it, "I don't think you need coffee this morning!"

Dave and I took a walk around the block last night (to burn off some of this energy). The boys went to the beach for the night with their Aunt Robin. The walk was slow but some fresh air was just what I needed after staring out the window at the blue skies yesterday for 5 1/2 hours Yes, that is how long it took, from the time I sat in the chair until I left.

More tests today and 2 more next week (and I will not be attending alone). I have to go back Monday for a shot to boost the growth of new white blood cells to help me fight infection.

Thank you so much for all of your cards, e-mails and comments. I may not be able to respond to all of them, but have so enjoyed reading them. Please keep them coming.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Talk about "information overload"!

I met with the nurse today for what they call "chemo talk" where they explain everything that may happen to me in great detail. The nurse was wonderful and listened to me ramble on about various things. She even confessed that this talk was difficult for her because she was the same age as me. All of the staff at the Cancer Center have made this unpleasant circumstance more comfortable for me.

I had a difficult time today. I went by myself (which I now know is not the wisest thing for me to do). By the time everything was done ( I agreed to be part of a clinical study also which required more time), I was exhausted. I wanted to just stop in Happy Harrys' for some meds and 4 things before I came home to rest. 4 things with no children should not be difficult to remember, right? I had to stop several times in the store to recall what those 4 things were. My brain was just on overload and my body was pooped. It was just a hard day. And the real fun hasn't even begun.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Treatment will begin this Friday

Just wanted to let everyone know the latest. Chemo will begin this Friday. There are a lot more tests to run to ensure that the cancer has not spread, but we are going to begin the chemo right away. Lots have asked who my doctors are. Breast Surgeon is now to be determined, but my oncologist is Dr. Steve Grubbs. He has really made me feel much more at ease with this process and hope for the outcome.

Our household, as you can imagine, is a lot crazy right now with doctors' offices calling, concerned family and friends calling, not to mention the 2 boys running around. We are doing okay and firmly believe that we will remain that way. We also know to expect ups and downs, but are "excited" that chemo is beginning soon. Who would have ever thought that anyone would be excited about chemo? Well, I am. I can not wait for this thing to stop invading my body so much.

We have found verses in the Bible that we have known all of our lives, but take on a new meaning now. God's grace has been demonstrated to us in even the little details these days. Today was a good day and full of good things and we thank Him for everyone of them.