Monday, February 20, 2012

Halfway through FAC!

Well, it's Monday and I'm just now posting! Sorry for the delay... I am literally just now feeling up to doing anything! I have been feeling fine in the sense that I have not been sick, but I have just been exhausted and have felt so lazy! I hate feeling like this, but it is getting better!

We made a super short trip to Houston and got in Wednesday night and stayed with the Stanfills. My appointments started at 7:15 the next morning and we headed home after chemo, around 3:00. It was a long day, but we were so happy to be home Thursday night.

I had blood work, then immediately went to my ultrasound. The ultrasound showed that I am responding to the FAC!! Praise God!!! I get so many mixed messages back when I am having an ultrasound done. The ultrasound techs are obviously trained to say nothing while doing an ultrasound, which of course makes it un-nerving. This particular nurse that I had this time was very talkative and sweet. At the end of the ultrasound, she said "I normally do not say things like this, but I think you will be very pleased with your results." As she left the room, I just cried and cried and thanked the Lord over and over. About 10 minutes later, the radiologist comes in and does another ultrasound and is completely silent. He hands me  my results and does not act excited at all... talk about mixed messages! No one went over my results with me and I left happy, but slightly confused. As I reviewed my results, it looks like the lymph nodes have shrunk slightly, but mostly remained stable. This still means I am responding, which is wonderful news!

We saw a different doctor this week because my doctor (Dr. Morrow) was out because she had surgery. The doctor we met with was very nice, but it was basically a 5 minute meeting so that she could order my next round of FAC. I had her look at my ultrasound results and she said that it looked like my lymph node size were back to normal or very close to, once again, some mixed messages, but I am choosing to believe that my lymph nodes are free of cancer and normal!!

One of my dear friends prays for me every night with her sweet daughter. She said that recently, her daughter does not want to pray for me, because she says "Miss Aly is already healed!" I agree and believe that wholeheartedly.

At our last doctor's visit with our regular doctor (Jan 26), we were so disappointed to learn that our doctor is moving to California. She explained to us that this type of job takes its toll on her, seeing so many terminally ill patients, and she has taken a job in researching cancer in California--to hopefully find a cure very, very soon. I immediately burst into tears when she told us, because she has been so wonderful and walked with us through this process. She feels bonded with us as well, as we all cried and hugged together. She is referring me to a doctor that she assures me is wonderful. It is one of her friends at the hospital, and she specializes in fertility after cancer- How good is our God? We were hoping to tell Dr. Morrow a final goodbye at this past visit, but she was out having her surgery. The doctor that saw us said she was calling from her hospital to check on us- she is amazing. She is one of those people you want to be more like after you visit with her- more kind, more caring, more funny, and just more joyful in general. We will miss her immensely. So, on our next visit, we will meet our new doctor, Dr. Jennifer Litton. This will be my oncologist that I, will in theory, see for the rest of my life.

We also met with the Physician's Assistant of my reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Villa. We were a little confused after talking to others about the sequence of my reconstruction, and made an appointment to just gain some clarification. Here is the information that we have so far concerning my surgeries: The first surgery I will have will tentatively be on April 23rd and this will include the mastectomy of the left breast, which will be done by my surgical oncologist. After she is done with this, the reconstructive surgeon comes in and places a tissue expander in and sews me up. The tissue expander can be inflated and deflated in order to get my skin ready for an eventual implant. A few months down the road, once I am healed from the previous surgery, the same thing will be done on my right breast. This is called prophylactic, because this is the non-cancer breast, and is being done preventatively. Then once both tissue expanders are placed and the initial 2 surgeries are done along with radiation (end of July), they will be expanded for 6 months before implants will be placed. The reason for the 6 month time period is because my skin will be radiated on the left side and they want to have ample enough time for the skin to stretch, since it typically behaves differently than non-radiated skin. So, around December, I should have one of the final surgeries in which I will have my implants put in. This could be a pretty major surgery, all dependent on how my skin responds to radiation. If my skin responds poorly (or the way it is expected to respond), my back muscle will be rotated forward to have healthy tissue for my implant to sit on. This is a very common surgery and I've heard positive and negative things about it. However, if my skin responds better than expected, the back muscle will not be needed and I can use my own skin and tissue without having to use my back muscle---confusing, right?! So, it looks like I will have a minimum of 3 reconstructive surgeries and hopefully be done with the main surgeries in December. I am praying that my skin responds greatly to radiation and they will not have to use the back muscle!

Now, I try to go back to real life for 3 weeks until my next appointment on March 9th. Please pray with expectancy and thankfulness that I am healed. Please pray that God continues to give me peace as I continue to receive direction from Him on how He would have me handle my healing process. I am striving to abide in the Lord and in His word.

"Give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight: Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are LIFE to all who find them, and HEALTH to all their body." Proverbs 4:20-22

His word gives me LIFE! I will hide His word in my heart and meditate on His promises in giving me life and health.

Here are some pictures from my 14th treatment!! 2 to go!!

Also, Josh shaved my head on Friday morning! Up until this point, I still had a tad-bit that I could put back in tee-tiny pony tail, and I didn't even have enough to do that, so we decided to go ahead and shave it off. It really isn't that much different than before, because so little hair was there, but here is a pic of the bald me!

And here was what was shaved off- as you can see, not much at all!

Love you guys!!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ready for Thursday!

I am SO ready for Thursday!! After Thursday, I will only have 2 more chemo treatments!!!! I am SO ready to be done. I will have 14 of 16 treatments done!!!!

I finally got results back on my ultrasound (from 3 weeks ago), and the lymph nodes shrunk 35%. So, from my entire time on Taxol, my lymph nodes shrunk 60%!! I was so thankful and relieved. I am so expectant for this Thursday. I have an ultrasound first thing in the morning and I expect wonderful results. This will be my first check-up on this new chemo. I am praying and believing it is killing every last bit of cancer.

These last 3 weeks have seemed a lot longer than usual. While I am thankful to be home for 3 weeks at a time, it has been an adjustment and sometimes more time on my hands can be bad. Although I haven't had much downtime, the times I am doing things, often my mind wanders and thinks about my cancer, stage, lymph nodes, mastectomy, radiation, and fear of reoccurrence. I am confident that when I am healed, I will be healed forever, so that the cancer will never return; however, anything I read on my type of cancer has so much about reoccurrence.

The type of cancer I have is called "triple-negative", which means that my cancer is not hormone-sensitive, which also means it is not responsive to hormone-targetted therapy, which is typically what treatment for breast cancer is targeted toward. About 10-20% of women with breast cancer are triple negative. This type of cancer tends to be more aggressive and more likely to re-occur. The first 2 years after ending treatment are the "scariest", but 5 years after treatment is a big hurdle to get past for any breast cancer survivor.

I KNOW I will be healed and will live a long, healthy life, but the statistics and information can be discouraging. I limit my reading and read more from the book of LIFE- God's word. I trust in it wholeheartedly and am desperate and dependent on God's promises.

"It is the Spirit who gives Life, ... the words that I speak to you are Spirit, and they are Life." John 6:63

Please continue to pray that I am healed and whole in Jesus' name. Please also pray that cancer never returns to my body. We also know that another hurdle will be deciding when to try to start a family post-treatment. Of course, we want to start a family very soon, but there will be precautions and hurdles that my doctor and medical team will advise, and we are just not sure how long that time will officially be. Because I am triple negative, and will not respond to hormonal-therapy, I am not a candidate for Tamoxifen (a breast cancer pill), that typically most breast cancer survivors take for 5 years post-treatment that help to prevent re-occurrence. So, this means that there is nothing I will be taking medically to prevent the cancer from reoccurring. I will be eating crazy-healthy and exercising daily to remain as healthy as possible, but that is all I can do to prevent reoccurrence (outside of praying, believing, and claiming complete healing for the rest of my life).

So, in some ways this is great news, because if I was taking Tamoxifen after treatment, I would have to wait 5 years to try to get pregnant, so a part of me is excited that I wouldn't have to wait that long! But, there's no telling what my doctors will tell me in regards to waiting for a baby. We are just praying that God will give us peace and lead us as we look down that road. I refuse to live in fear...not only because it would be misery, but because God's word tells me not to fear... I will trust Him with my life and future.

Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10

I am just getting so ready for chemo to be over... it has gone by quickly, but I am just so very ready for it all to be over. I know it will be here soon. I am just ready:)

I am still feeling great. I have just been tired and my nails are still suffering. I have lost my left big toe nail and my right one looks like it is about to fall off. My nails look so disgusting and it looks as if some of those may fall off soon as well. It really isn't that bad- it is just more of a nuisance. Little to no nausea, no mouth sores, no stomach problems!!! Praise the Lord! I will take ugly and sore nails any day:)

Please continue to pray for us, every time you think of us. We are learning every day that although my healing will soon be apparent, this tough road is far from done for us. I will see an oncologist for the rest of my life! We will see doctors often, but we will constantly be reminded of what God has done.

We will update after our doctor visits and chemo on Thursday. Love you...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Aly's Fight T-shirts!!

This is a guest post by Lee Taylor and I have some big news about our fundraising efforts to stand behind Aly and Josh during this tough time.

I am excited to announce that the Aly's Fight t-shirt fundraiser raised $4,500 to bless Josh and Aly. We have sold so many shirts, and it has been amazing to see everyone supporting Aly around town.

Another amazing story is that of Polar X ornaments, who sold Christmas ornaments in the mall, who heard about Aly's story and was willing to donate part of their profits before Christmas to Aly. I will also be giving Aly and Josh a check for $231.60. INCREDIBLE!!

Some people have asked about the window decals. These are $5 and for more information on these you can email Jennifer Jordan at

There are some extra Aly’s Fight shirts still available. Email me at if you are interested in picking up a shirt.

Below is a list of people who still have shirts ready for pickup. Please email us at to arrange for pickup or for shipping. Also, if you have any questions please feel free to email me at the above email address.

We are looking for:

Amy Linder

Katie Jones

Michael Davis

Robert Jones

Loren McIntyre

Anna Cole

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Doing GREAT on FAC!!!

I'm so sorry I am just now posting... I just simply have not had the time, or made the time to do it. But, lots of updates!!!

My ultrasound Tuesday showed that I am still responding to treatment!!!:) Praise the Lord. I am just not very surprised at God's faithfulness to me anymore...He's proved himself faithful so many times, so why should I ever doubt Him? Sadly, at times I do, but He is teaching me more than I ever knew I could be taught. He is such a good God. He rejoices over me!!! That thought and picture just astounds me. The Lord is glad when He sees me trusting Him. When I get good news, He is rejoicing! I am tearing up now just thinking about it. When I truly mediate on that thought, it is mind-bottling. I serve an amazing God.  He loves me so much... I owe him everything.

Zephaniah 3:17
"For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs."
I also had a mammogram Tuesday and I am not sure what the results from that were. However, right now, the most important one is the ultrasound because it directly monitors my lymph node response. I think I have told you before, but the lymph nodes they are monitoring are up under my left arm pit...way, way, up there! When the doctors feel it, they have a hard time finding them and have to push so very hard.

I met with my surgeon, Dr. Babiera, and she was pleased with my progress. We basically just talked about what all she would be doing in surgery. The first surgery that I have will be removing my left breast (the cancer breast) and all of my lymph nodes on the left side. The plastic surgeon will come in right behind her and put in a tissue expander, which prepares the chest wall for an eventual implant. Sorry if this is too much info:) Just thought you all would want to know. Later down the road will come the removal of the right breast, with final reconstruction on both breasts. From the first surgery to all-done reconstruction will take about a year.

We were happy you get a tentative surgery date of April 23rd! If I stay on schedule with my chemo, I will finish chemo on the 29th of March. We have to wait for the chemo to get out of my system to have my surgery. I am so glad to have a date of surgery-- I believe the cancer will be gone before the surgery, but there will be no doubts about it once I have the surgery, so I am looking forward to it!

Of course, I am nervous about the surgery. It is crazy to think about not having one of your breasts, but I mostly have peace about it. The cancer will be gone and when everything is said and done, I will mostly look like my old self again. My main concern has been the impact on Josh. He has been amazing and reassures me He will find me beautiful. The scars I have will only remind us of what Satan tried to do and how the Lord rescued me from death! We all face death every day, but I have been staring it in the face, and refusing it with every part of my being. Every time I look at myself, I will see the healing power of my Lord and Savior. In that way, I am blessed to have God's name literally marked on my body. Oh, that I would represent Him well!!! Gosh, the tears just keep coming!:)

 Psalm 103: 4 "He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies"

After my appointment with my surgeon, we met my radiation oncologist (Dr. Strom) for the first time and we really liked him. He explained how the radiation works and what all would take place during radiation. It looks like I would start radiation around the 3rd week of May and it would last for 6 weeks. Josh and I will move to Houston during this time. Some of my parents' friends from college have offered up their condo to us during this entire 6 weeks. WOW! We were in awe, but once again, I am just not surprised at the Lord anymore. The Knotts are amazing and we cannot say thank you enough.

The radiation is 5 days a week for 6 weeks. By rough calculations, it looks like I would be finished with radiation treatment in mid-July. Then, treatment would officially be over. The other surgeries to follow would just be the reconstruction surgeries of both of my breasts. So, we got a bunch of info, huh?!

As far as how I am feeling, I am feeling great!!! I have been more tired than usual, but other than that, I feel almost exactly as I did on Taxol. By the the way, that is NOT normal. By all accounts, I should be throwing up and bound to the bed. I went to work yesterday and felt great. God is protecting me with His shield. I believe this new, tougher, chemo will go straight to the cancer and kill every last bit of it. Our sweet friend told me last night that she was calling the "red devil" the "red target" because it will go straight to the cancer and kill every last bit of it and not touch anything else. I believe that is exactly what is happening.

My fingernails do not hurt as bad, but are getting a little darker in color. I am hoping they look and feel a little better soon. Here is a pic--sorry if it grosses you out--just so many have asked:)

Oh, and I forgot to post a pic with my #13, so here it is. With the "red target!"

LOVE YOU and THANK YOU for your continued, so treasured prayers. I won't go back to MDA until February 16th, but I'm sure I will update before then.