Monday, March 26, 2012
It is March 26th and I am one excited girl! Friday is the day of my last chemo treatment- EVER! I am excited. Every time I get weighed and have my blood pressure taken, there is a bell on the wall beside me that cancer patients ring once they are done with chemo. I have looked and looked at that bell praying that I would have the chance to ring it. Sadly, many patients don't ever get to ring that bell, but I am SO thankful that I will be able to. Sooo, be listening around 1 or 2 on Friday...if you hear a bell in the distance, it is ME!! Thank God with me for his healing power and we can celebrate together:)
Over the last 3 weeks, my hair has started growing back. I'm not really sure why, but I'm not complaining. I was under the impression it would not start growing back till I was done with chemo, but it is growing! When I take off Raquel or my hat, I have a crease in my hair or a callac and it is exciting! Every day, I make Josh note the growth. I have told Josh many times that I will no longer complain about my hair on bad hair days. Not only because I am to do everything without complaining or arguing, but because I will have HAIR!! No complaining from me! I even plucked a few eyebrows yesterday.. I was pumped! Yes, I just said that:) ha. My eyelashes are super duper short, but they are starting to grow back too. God is good!!
These last few weeks have been great- I have actually felt the best I have felt since October. I have had more energy and gotten some things done around our house. We moved in our house in January and there are still so many things that have to be done, and I just haven't had the time or energy to get them done! But, I had more time in the last few weeks and a ton of energy... I have felt so great and it feels wonderful to be productive. God is proving to me time and time again that He is sovereign and worthy to be trusted. Whether it be through increased energy, unexplainable peace, or the absolute certainty of my healing, He gives me many reminders along the way that He's got this. It is up to me to stand on nothing less than His word, believe His promises and obey His laws.
"It is the Spirit who gives life: the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are in spirit, and they are life." John 6:63
I may have already posted this verse, but I really don't re-read my blogs, so if I have already posted this verse, forgive me:) It just says so much. Who gives me life? The spirit. And where do I get this life? His words- They are LIFE!! Why would I choose to stand on anything else. A doctor's report? no. Another's story? no. The ONLY thing I can fully hope in is the Lord and His word. He is sovereign. He is my rock and I will stand on nothing less. I LOVE Jesus and His word!!!
So, we will leave Thursday morning- Josh, my mom and Ms. Renea for my last chemo treatment. We will head back Friday after chemo and then will have 3 weeks before surgery! I told Josh last night that I just can't believe it is less than a month before surgery. I am ready. I could literally write so much of how God has prepared me for this surgery, but it would take too long to write and read. One day I will write it all down-- our entire story--God's hand is so visible in EVERY detail. He is a God of the details. So, April 23rd is the surgery. On April 11th and 12th, I go to MDA for a doctor's appointment with my surgeon, Dr. Babiera, as well as an ultrasound and mammogram. These are needed for the surgery for her to know where the cancer was and to make sure she takes everything out that needs to be taken out! I am ready for that ultrasound to see how well I've responded to the FAC, since the last ultrasound I had was in February. So, on the 11th and 12th I have those appointments, then on the 19th, I have all my pre-op appointments, and then the surgery on the 23rd. It will be here soon:) What is the recurring word here? READY!!!
I am continuing to resist the devil and claiming that He has no place in my body. He has tried to destroy me, but what he meant for evil, the Lord allowed to happen for good.
"But as for you, you meant evil against me: but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." Gen. 50:20
God has meant it for good. It is amazing the emails and cards I have received of people saying how God has spoken to them through my story. This makes my journey SO worth it. I want lives to be saved to further God's kingdom. To know that I played a part in this makes me so happy, I can't even explain. But, as I've said before, this story is not about me. It is God's story. He is the hero- my healer, my provider, my comforter, my strength, my portion, my constant, my father, my friend. He is all of these things to you too, if you allow Him to be.
Continue to pray for me and thank the Lord for my last chemo. Please continue to pray and believe for my healing. One HUGE part of the process is about to be over--Ahhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hallelujah, hallelujah! Yes, I just sang that out loud:) LOVE YOU!
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are some extra Aly’s Fight shirts still available. Email me at email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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:
Monday, March 12, 2012
"Because he cleaves to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him because he knows my name. Whenever he calls to me I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will rescue him and honor him with long life. I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation." Psalm 91:14-16
God has RESCUED and DELIVERED me, and He will continue to!!! Praise God!
When I first came to MD Anderson, they told me that I would have 3 steps to completing treatment and a total of 4 steps to get back to "normal", whatever that means after going through all of this:) The first step being 6 months of chemo, the second being surgery, the third being radiation, and the fourth being reconstructive surgery. The longest, hardest part is about to be DONE!!! God has supernaturally carried me thus far and I expect nothing less from here on out.
John 14:13 "You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father."
I, and many of you, have fervently asked and pleaded with God for my healing and He has heard us and answered. I no longer feel my lymph nodes to see if they feel smaller or am as concerned with the ultrasounds. I know God is healing me and I trust in Him. Yes, I have changed my diet, and yes, I have undergone chemotherapy treatment, but my healing comes from the ultimate healer, my Lord and my Savior. Jesus is bringing glory to His father through this process.
On Friday, I had blood work, met with my new doctor, Dr. Litton, and then had chemo. I really liked Dr. Litton, but I miss Dr. Morrow so much. My new nurse, Angela, seemed very nice and Dr. Litton seemed great as well. We got to see Amiee, my old nurse and it is just bittersweet:( At some point, I won't miss Amiee and Dr. Morrow as much, but they really are so great!!! I asked Dr. Litton about why I wasn't having ultrasounds anymore, and she said that she just does one ultrasound before FAC and then afterwards for the surgeon. She knows I am responding because of my first ultrasound on FAC, so that answers that, and I am putting those fears to rest. Oh, and she couldn't feel my lymph node at all:) I have given my fears to God, and He has replaced them with peace.
Dr. Litton immediately addressed fertility issues, which were of course, extremely important to Josh and me. She is very pro-pregnancy after breast cancer, and I am discovering that many doctors are not. So, needless to say, I am thankful she is on board. We want to have children very soon, and Dr. Litton explained to us that she advises patients to wait at least 2 years from diagnosis to start to try to have children. I'm not really sure what I was expecting, but it was encouraging to know it could happen soon:) She explained that before we start trying, she would encourage undergoing many different tests to just make sure nothing was hanging out there before a child was put in the mix. Josh and I are praying for direction and timing on when to start a family, so please join us in this....that God would not only preserve my fertility and give us the children He has for us, but that the timing and direction would be clear.
Chemo went well and my mom and I headed back right after chemo on Friday. I fell asleep during chemo because of all of the pre-meds, but really didn't sleep much on the way back. I have felt tired and blah, but outside of that, I have felt good. I feel so much better than the last round, because I don't have that terrible cold!
School has been going well and I have had the time and energy to complete my assignments! Midterms were last week and I did well on all of them... I am by no means an over-achiever this semester, but I am getting my work done:) I am so thankful to be in a PhD program that works with me during this tough time. Dr. Sutton and my MFT Family are amazing!!
So, next is not only the realization that my chemo treatments are coming to an end, which is exciting, but the next step of surgery is coming up. I have much peace about it all, but it is moving from one hard path to another- but I am ready for it.
I feel like I am sometimes beating a dead horse asking you all to continue praying for my healing, for our children, for our hearts and minds to be guarded, etc... But I am continually reminded in scripture that we are to KEEP praying and be persistent. So, I won't stop asking you to pray.
"Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere." Eph. 6:18
So, here is to persistent prayer:)
Chemo # 15!!
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
On March 8th 2002 I was in 11th grade and Aly was in 9th at OCS. We had just been let out of school and spring break week was here. That Friday Aly's best friend Ainsley and two of my close friends were involved in an accident where one of the most incredible people I have ever come across passed away. At 17 years old Jeremy Barnhill was an incredible friend that was one of the few people I have ever met that truly grabbed the attention of anyone and everyone he came in touch with.
There is not one time I hear the month of March, the number 8, North Monroe hospital, Jared Evans and many many other words and names that I am not immediately back to the moment I received the call about the accident. I vividly remember being in north Monroe hospital parking lot, then watching Jared being rolled out to be moved to St Francis. That night for a 17 year old was not understandable. I think back now and realize that I for one and I assume most of my friends didn't understand the gravity of what happened that day.
Instantly there was a family given unfathomable news, another family given very scary info and then another family certainly glad their daughter was safe.
To Mr Terry and Mrs Kathi Barnhill, I cannot imagine what this date means to you but I can tell that I think about you guys all the time and have by no means done my part to show you what your son meant to me. This may be the biggest stage I have to tell you how incredible your son was but let me say again he was truly special and I know the one year I was close to him I am left with nothing but memorable moments.
Jared may never know but he played a huge part in my early time at OCS. Jared was truly kind to me. After the accident, his miracle FULL recovery we were never really around each other but as a 17-18 year old I was able to watch him fight what had to be an incredibly hard battle back into school and life. I admire what you did Jared Evans and thank you for making life at OCS a little easier for Kyle and I as we came over. Don't think I don't remember. God's plan for you must be big, I think about and pray that you continue to feel God in your daily life.
Last but certainly not least Ms Ainsley Beeman. That day God saved Ainsley from something that by all accounts could have gone either way, she was relatively unscathed. When Aly was diagnosed Ainsley was at the house that night. God had many plans for Ainsley but for me to be able to watch the life she has brought to my wife during this process has been unreal. Ainsley has not been kind, she has truly been life to Aly.
So needless to say this post isn't about Aly's current fight but March 8th was a huge day in our lives even though at the time we were not dating. We may never have this many eyes reading what we have to say so I wanted to take this opportunity to remember publicly Jeremy Barnhill and also the work of God in Jared and Ainsley. There will never be a March 8th that we forget.
Monday, March 5, 2012
I also keep forgetting that I am bald. I walk outside or people knock on the door and I just open it or say "hi" without realizing what I look like. It takes just a second to see their looks on their faces for me to realize I forgot to put a hat on or to put Racquel on. Have you ever heard of people who lose a limb and they feel like they can still feel it? That is what it is like to not have your hair. I walk outside to let Bella out and when the wind blows, I take my hand to put my hair behind my ear...craziness! Anyways...just funny things that happen to a girl with no hair:)
These last 3 weeks have been pretty good, outside of a terrible cold. It came on right after my last chemo and I guess the combination of chemo and the cold was the perfect horrible combination. I was pretty miserable for about 5 days, but thank the Lord that I am feeling much better. My doctor called a prescription in for me and I was so thankful to finally start feeling like myself again. I think my nails are getting better. They looked pretty nasty and continue to be pretty black and yellowish, but I think they are getting better. They are still sore, but I am hoping I am on the upside with these stinking nails!!
I am so happy, ecstatic, overjoyed...every positive adjective that exists..that it is March!! March is the month that I have my last chemo treatment! March 30th!!! ahhh!! In October, when Dr. Morrow said I would have 6 months of chemo, that sounded like an eternity, and it is almost here! I have prayed that God would make the time go by fast, but not too fast where I couldn't enjoy each day, and that is exactly what He has done. Ms. Vanessia West, who is cancer-free and finished treatment a few months ago, keeps reminding me that I will look back on all of this soon enough and it will seem like it happened so long ago. I know that is true and I'm so thankful for those that went before me. I am just beyond ready for this to all be done.
So, I have my 3rd treatment of FAC this Friday and I will also meet my new doctor, Dr. Litton. I am really looking forward to that. Dr. Morrow called me a couple of weeks ago and we both just cried and cried on the phone. She called to specifically check up on me and to tell me bye and that she would miss me as she is moving to California. It was a mutual love fest over the phone:) We both continually told each other we loved each other and how much we would miss the other. I will never, ever forget her...this new doctor has A LOT to live up to!
A new thing I have learned is that I will no longer get an ultrasound at each appointment. I am not really sure why, but I will find that out at my doctor's appointment on Friday. My next ultrasound is right before my surgery in April. I know that the medicine is working though, so no need for reassurance! But just wanted to update you all on that. Please continue praying that all cancer will be gone before surgery.
Through this experience thus far, God has taught me so much. He has revealed much in me that needed to change and He is refining me. I am thankful for His correction and refinement.
One thing that He has particularly helped me with is looking forward to Christ's coming. This is something I truthfully have never really looked forward to and I have been somewhat scared of. I have typically thought, "I don't want the Lord to come back now because I don't have kids yet, or I haven't grown old, etc..", but the truth is I had never really meditated on the Lord's coming. The Lord commands us to look forward to His coming, and I was not previously doing this. 2 Peter 3:12 says "Look forward to the day of God and hurry it along." In verse 14 it says "And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight."
I now look forward to the Lord's coming and often pray, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus." He has taught me to not be scared of His coming, but to hurry it along. I am finally in a place where I cannot wait for the Lord to come back and spend eternity with Him. Cancer is just a reminder of the cruelty of the devil and how evil the world really is. We cannot fathom how wonderful heaven will be and God is revealing that to me day by day.- no more pain, no more fear, no more worries---even though I am striving to live a life free of these things while on earth, they will be non-existent in heaven. I know I will live on this earth until I am old, or the Lord will come back before then. Either way, I am not scared anymore...just another thing the Lord is teaching me. I am now obeying a command I was not previously obeying. I am thankful for the Lord's correction. He tells us He corrects those he loves- that's me:)! I could literally go on and on of all the things he has taught me through this and is teaching me.
The Lord is drawing near to me as I draw near to Him. I am learning to seek Him wholeheartedly by not only looking into his word, but by teaching and the guidance of those around me. Thank you to all who have shared with me thoughts, prayers, scriptures, ways to pray and claim scripture, and have faith that others would call foolish. You have no idea what it has done for me and how it has helped me. If you feel like you need to tell me something, please do it. Your words and encouragement literally carry me. Text me or call me or just tell me! It means more than you can know.
Here are other scriptures that I continue to claim and pray...please, please join me. I put my name in these verses.
"Because Aly cleaves to me in love, I will deliver her; I will protect her because she knows my name. Whenever she calls to me I will answer her: I will be with her in trouble; I will rescue her and honor her with LONG life. I will satisfy her and show her my salvation." Psalm 91:14-16
God's word does not come back void. As I pray these scriptures, I know God is making sure to do what He says.
"Then said the Lord to Aly, "You have seen well, for I am alert and active watching over my word to perform it." Jeremiah 1:12
This journey is not about me at all. It is all about Christ..please when you're telling someone my story, make it about Christ and not me. In fact, that is why He has me going through this...to glorify Him and that many would be saved from death. Please play a part in His plan....
Thank you for continuing to fight with me... I draw much comfort from my huge army!!! Stick with me till the end. It's a long road ahead, but the end is in sight! Pray for me this Friday as the chemo aids in killing every last bit of cancer. My mom will be driving me down and we will head back Friday as soon as chemo is done so I can be home asap.
LOVE my army:)