Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ready to be home...

We had such a great time being home last weekend. My radiation team was able to schedule my appointment really early on Friday and really late on Monday so I could have the longest weekend home as possible. It was wonderful!

When we pulled up to our house, our landscaping was done!!! OH MY GOODNESS!! I was so excited!!! It is beautiful. I will take a picture when we get back home. Angie and Ronnie Osbon, Sonja and Tom Riggs, Jen and Kenneth Barnes, Zach and Kyle Osbon, and Bradley and David Barnes--you guys are amazing!!!! We have been meaning on doing our landscaping for a long time, but just simply have not had the time, money, or energy to get it done. So, to come home to that being done not only gives us one less thing to do, but it was just so welcoming. We love these people that helped on our house. The boys that helped, we adore. Josh coached them in basketball and we just miss being around them. Josh misses coaching basketball, but most of all, we just miss being around the guys. We love the Osbon and Barnes boys:)

We were thankful to spend time with our families and our friends this past weekend. My family even had a little birthday celebration for me on Saturday night. It was just great to feel somewhat normal and have a weekend at home. It was so nice to be at our house too, but bittersweet because we are still living out of suitcases. My mom organized some of the things at our house while I was gone, so that was a major blessing to come home to, just still so much to do. I know it will be done eventually. So thankful to have such a beautiful home. I know soon we will actually be living in it! Hallelujah!

My mom came to Houston with me this week, and that was great to get to spend some time with her. Since my appointment was so late on Monday, Huma let my mom come back and see the radiation machine, so that was neat for her to see and kind of get a picture of what radiation is like for me. We had a great time shopping and saw the movie Brave, which was really cute. We also spent a lot of time with Ms. Tammy, which is always fun. It was definitely great having my mom here for a few days this week.

My skin is much more red this week. My underarm is getting very irritated and is peeling and my chest in certain spots is very red. Please pray that it gets less red and remains healthy. Even though it isn't looking the greatest, I just keep praying it remains healthy. It may not look great, but I know it can still be healthy even though it looks rough:) So, that is what I am praying. It still is much better than others I have seen, so I am grateful and still believing for great, healthy skin.

I will only have 4 radiation treatments this week because of the 4th of July. So, a day break may end up being good for my skin. The last week of radiation, they will do what is called a "boost" where they focus simply on the breast itself. They have been focusing all the way up to my collar bone and down to my belly button, but on the last week they focus in on the biopsy spot and breast itself. My '"last week" starts on Friday! Only 8 treatments left!! There is a bell to ring once you finish radiation, so I will be ringing yet another bell. Thank you Jesus!

I really have been feeling great. I haven't noticed any notable fatigue. The only way I would know that anything is happening to me is by the skin reaction. Other than that, I have been feeling great. I know other people experience harsh side effects from radiation, and I am just amazed once again how God is protecting me.

As many of you know, ever since I was diagnosed, I changed my diet pretty dramatically. It was a decision I made for myself, and I am just so thankful and happy that I did. I truly believe that my diet has played a huge part in God's healing and me feeling so well through all of my treatment. The speed of my hair growth, my skin being so clear, no weight gain throughout chemo...I believe my diet and nutrition contributed to all of this. Just as God can use his supernatural healing, he can use doctors, diet, exercise, chemo, radiation to accomplish his purposes. When I felt compelled to change my diet, I thought I would just maintain this extremely healthy diet during treatment; however, now, it is a lifestyle change for me. I am thankful that God has brought so much to my attention in regards to what I put in my body. It has been a struggle for me and I am still learning, but this whole cancer/healing process has brought so much to my attention. It is SO much more expensive to eat out and buy groceries, but it is one of the best investments that we can make- our health. Josh has come on board with me too, and he has changed his diet much as well. So thankful to have him supporting me... but it is a constant day-to-day struggle for me.

Ms. Renea has helped me from the beginning by researching different foods and helping me prepare and buy my foods. Wow, am I so thankful for that. I was so scared to eat anything at first. The first week I was diagnosed, I don't think I ate anything. For one, I didn't have an appetite, but I also was scared that anything I put in my body was making the cancer grow. It is a pretty unnerving feeling, but having her help and taking control of what I put in my body brought me much peace and comfort. I am so thankful that God used her to help me in such a big way.

I am writing about my nutrition and diet because it is something I haven't really wrote much about, and it has been one of the biggest changes that has occurred in my life since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I obviously have let you guys in to my life and this is a big part that has changed that I really haven't filled you all in on! My eyes have just been opened to the natural foods that God gives us to keep us healthy and strong. I hate it took cancer for my eyes to be opened, but they have been opened, and I am thankful. As you know, I love food, so it still is a struggle for me to find foods I like that taste as good as ice cream, cookies, cakes, etc... I would appreciate any recipes or any healthy food/dessert ideas:) Please pray that God continues to guide me on this lifestyle change and that he will provide us with the means necessary as we continue investing in our health.

Along with my radiation this week, I have had physical therapy each day. It is going really well and I am so happy and thankful that I have started physical therapy. Susan and her PTA Tracy have worked with me this week, and they are already seeing much improvement in regards to my arm mobility. Tracy about killed me on Wednesday. She is a little "meaner" than Susan, but I know it will have to hurt before it gets better. They said that I have these "chords" built up in my arm which is basically scar tissue that has developed all down my arm into my fore arm. She let me feel it and it feels like really tight strands of spaghetti. Well, she was pulling on my arm and I felt like my arm was about to rip. She said, "You might feel these chords tear, but that is what is supposed to happen." I said, "Are you kidding me????" And she of course said "No." I did not feel any tears, but if that tells you how intense it has been, it has been crazy. But like I said, I know they have to be mean to get me back to where I need to be.

God gave me a little wake up call this past weekend in regards to lymphedema. The back of my hands continue to be sore... I guess just from surgery and the lymph system. Well on Saturday night, I noticed some swelling in my left hand. I immediately got my lymphedema glove and put it on while I slept. I woke up in the middle of the night with my fingers asleep, so I took it off. My swelling went down and continued to go down, and it has been fine since. I was a little discouraged when this happened, and had Josh immediately pray for me, but the more I have thought about it, I feel like God was just telling me to slow down some. Yes, I get very frustrated with Josh when he won't let me pick up a plate (yes, a little overexaggeration), but having that little scare has made me be so very careful. It just isn't worth having painful, swollen, hands and arms. Please pray that I continue to have no signs of lymphedema. I am stubborn and just having Josh be the lymphedema nazi wasn't making me be as cautious as I needed to be, so God intervened, and it has worked:)

This is our last weekend to be in Houston! Next weekend, we will be in Lake Charles spending time with my dear friend Kelly, and her husband Kase in Lake Charles, so this is our last weekend here! It is really exciting to think about. So, we will be doing some more exploring of the Houston area since we know we won't be here much longer! We will miss the Stanfills when we leave, but last weekend was just a tease, because we are ready to be home. I really love West Monroe and I love being home. I always hear people complain of how there is nothing to do and they can't wait to get out of West Monroe, but I really have never felt that way. Yes, there is much more to do in Houston and other big cities, but I love where we live. I could pick up and move anywhere, but I love West Monroe. Our families and our church play the biggest part in that. I love my life. I love my little family- me, Josh and Bella. My favorite nights are just cuddled up on the couch with them both and I just lay there and thank God for all of my blessings. That's one of the best things to do in West Monroe, in my opinion:)

I will update next week, and that will be my last update before the end of my treatment!! Ahh!! How exciting is that?! Less than 2 weeks and I will be heading home! Thank you for praying for my skin and no lymphedema. My physical therapist said that sometimes radiation can bring about lymphedema and the radiation can also cause more stiffness in my chest and arm muscles. I am believing and praying that won't be me. I love you all. Here are some pictures below of my radiation machine. Also, I am campaigning for a Whole Foods in West Monroe! I just discovered that they make fresh juice daily. On the days I don't have time to juice, or just don't feel like it, I have gone by there and got my juice. One of my friends, Ana, suggested the old Albertsons. How awesome would that be?!

The fresh juice section at Whole Foods. amazing.

This is what I lay on during radiation. The machine behind me is what comes over me and gives the radiation.

This is Huma showing how the lasers come down from the machine.

Close up on the machine

This is what I lay on that holds my arm up. It is molded especially for my body and is very hard. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Less than 3 weeks left!

I am more than half way though my radiation! 17 down and 13 to really has sped by. At this point, Josh and I are realizing all of the things we have left to do that we were planning on doing while we were here. We have really enjoyed our time thus far and are amazed at how God has made it go by so quickly.

We had a wonderful time last weekend with the Summers in Galveston. Their daughter, her husband, and their kids were so much fun to be with. It was laid back, and we had a great time relaxing and visiting. We went out on the beach for a little while, but spent most of our time watching the U.S. Open. Josh has followed John Peterson and his story since he has been at LSU, and the Summers are actually good friends with the Petersons, so it was fun to watch knowing someone! Josh LOVES golf, so he could watch regardless of knowing anyone, but give me someone we know or a Christian golfer and I can get into it:)

The Summers make us want to be better people, better Christians. They are always reaching out and they are the type of people that offer things and really mean it. Sometimes I can say, "I'm praying for you," or "Let's get together," and not truly mean it or follow through. The Summers are the exact opposite. They are wonderful at outreach, and when they offered us to spend time with them at the beach, it was not just a nice gesture or offer- they truly meant it! We want to be like this. We are called to be like this, and we are striving to change in this area.

On our way back from Galveston, we stopped in Kemah. My radiation team had mentioned it to me, and it was really neat. It is a board walk that has many shops and restaurants, as well as an upscale fair-like feel with different rides, games and ferris wheels. We ate lunch there after church on Sunday and walked around looking at the shops, boats and games. It was a fun, relaxing weekend. We were very thankful to be able to have another great weekend.

This week has been low-key, which I guess is a good thing! Radiation in the mornings, followed by lunch, then rest/school work, go to church to work out and then it is supper time. Josh has been meeting me up at the church gym after my workouts, and we have been having daily ping-pong tournaments. Because Josh is good at all sports, it is rare to never that I can compete with him; however, I can rally with some ping pong:) So, we play until we are too tired to continue or until I win:) Many times we get tired before I win, but that has been fun!

My skin is doing well, although it has gotten more red this week. It is hard to tell what is the marker and what is my skin. When I met with Dr. Strom this week, he said that 50% of the redness I see is actually marker smear, which is good. He was very happy with the way my skin was responding. Apparently around the 3rd week he can tell if a patient can get through the entire radiation regimen without breaks, and he said I should definitely get through without any breaks. Thank you Lord! He gave me some cream to put on my skin, as well as some mepilex, which is an adhesive that helps in many ways and helps with some of the itching. I am experiencing some itching, but very little. He said that he would expect it to get a little more red, but not too much more crazy, so that is good. I am still believing that my skin will remain healthy and not get any more red..please continue praying for this.

Josh shared a thought/Bible story with me this week that comes out of Matthew 9. Jesus healed a paralytic when he saw his FRIENDS' faith. It wasn't because of the man's faith, or his prayers, or his belief (which I of course still believe are huge), but because of his friends' faith. I was reminded of all of the faithful friends who have prayed for me with great faith. I can never think or believe that I was healed just because of the way I have responded to cancer-- I have had people, some of the most God-fearing people I know, on their knees on my behalf with HUGE faith. I don't think we can ever underestimate the power of our prayers for others and our faith for things to happen in others' lives. Look what happened to me! It has just spoke to me in asking me who I am currently praying for, and who am I asking to pray for me? For those that don't know Christ-- praying in great faith... for those who need healing--praying in great faith...for those who need provision--praying in great faith...this list could go on and on! I am just encouraged of what can happen when we fervently pray with great faith.  Even if the person going through something doesn't have faith or know God, our faith and prayers can change everything. And sharing with friends our prayer needs. Thank you for being my Matthew 9 friends.

We had a long day yesterday because I met with my physical therapist, had a follow up appointment with Dr. Babiera, and radiation. It was my first appointment to see my physical therapist and it went really well. Susan is my physical therapist, and she did a bunch of measuring to kind of get a baseline of where I am and where we want to get to. I currently have no signs of lymphedema- Praise God! She measured my arms, hands, wrists, etc... and everything was normal. I still have a bit of limited range of motion in my right arm, and of course a more limited range of motion in my left arm. We did a bunch of stretching and I was given different arm sleeves to wear when I can start doing arm exercises after radiation. She did reiterate the importance of not lifting heavy things, but she did give me hope that one day I could lift more as we monitor signs of lymphedema. Josh and I both really liked her, and of course she is really nice. Once again, it was so nice to be in the same hospital and see another professional that has dealt so much with post-mastectomy patients and physical therapy. Every exercise and stretch was pulling on the exact muscle that remains super tight. So, since our time is limited, I will have physical therapy every day for the rest of my radiation. Thankful for that! 

We also met with my surgeon, Dr. Babiera, which was simply for a surgery follow-up appointment. It went well, and she basically looked at me for 5 minutes and said I looked great. She, once again, is so sweet and she said that I would see her again in one year! Yes, one year! I, of course, will continue to see my oncologist every 3 months, but it will be a year until I see her again. Josh and I were both shocked, but of course excited. She went over some ways to check for knots over my tissue expanders and eventual implants which was helpful, but we basically waited for over 2 hours to have her look at me for 5 minutes and tell me I was good to go! I by no means mean that as a complaint, but just to show how backed up it was yesterday and how short our visit was. A short visit is a good visit:) 

As I wait in the waiting room in the main breast center area, I see those with thinning hair, wigs, drains, scarves, hats, and new port surgery sites. I overhear patients discussing their breast cancer stage, chemo regimen, chemo side effects, and see people on their first day confused of how to get everywhere. I am SO thankful that is not me, but of course my heart hurts for them. So much unknown and fear, of that I am sure. I am reminded of the shield God had around me-- I had little to no fear and complete peace. It is really crazy to even try to remember and think about. I, of course have had my bad days, but God supernaturally protected me in a way that is hard to describe. I pray those women in those waiting rooms will experience the healing that I have and give God the glory for yet another one of his benefits- healing. So thankful that the Lord has healed me and saved me.

Jeremiah 17:14 "Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.

We are so thankful to be coming home this weekend- to be in our house, our bed, see our family and friends- sounds like an amazing weekend to me! I was talking to one of my sweet friends, Christi, a few days ago. She has been an absolute prayer warrior for me throughout this whole process. She has been in China for the majority of the time and I would get email after email from her with such specific prayers. She is amazing! We were discussing how we can sometimes feel sorry for ourselves for things going on in our lives. For me it can be the obvious of cancer, chemo, surgery, radiation, reconstruction, etc..., but sometimes the little things can get me- the things that cancer has prevented me from having or experiencing, and then God speaks in His still small voice- "You are here." And then I realize that I am alive. I am breathing air and am living yet another day. I must take one day at a time. When Josh and I are discussing different things that we wished were happening or things we wish we could do that we can't because of cancer, we remember that God has a huge calling on our lives and we must trust Him to do what only He can do. How could we ever worry or choose not to trust Him when He has shown himself so huge in our lives? Christi and I were laughing at how we can get to those places and then God reveals all He has done and you feel guilty for ever questioning. God sees the whole picture. He gives us now- today. I will live for today and leave the future up to Him- isn't that a big burden off? God is so good!

Looking forward to seeing many of you this weekend. Others, please keep praying and I encourage you to ask others to pray for you-very specific requests- and seek out others to ask how you can pray for them. Let others be Matthew 9 prayer warriors for you too. They can't know how to pray or what to pray for if you don't tell them. 

Matthew 21:22 "And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Love you all. Here are some pictures from this last week. One of the pictures is Josh with a celebrity! He met Jackie Burke, who is a professional golfer. He won several PGA tournaments including the Masters and the PGA Championship several years ago. He was very popular in the 1950's. He created and manages the Champions Golf Club, which is very close to the Stanfill's house. It has been the site of many PGA tour events and we ate lunch there this week with the Mr. Lance Stanfill's dad. Josh was so honored to meet Mr. Burke and get a picture with him (thank you Ms. Tammy and Erin!:)) that's one of the pictures below!

After dinner one night with the Summers' Family in Galveston

Josh with professional golfer, Jackie Burke

Waiting to see Dr. Strom after my 14th radiation treatment

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The first post from a 25 year old!

Yes, that's right, I'm 25! I had such a wonderful birthday. On Friday, after treatment I went back to the Stanfill's and took a nap. I wake up to hearing Josh say my name, and I see two of my best friends standing over me! Margot and Ainsley were there looking beautiful, surprising me for me birthday. Of course, I was freaking out and then I had to open my card. My card said to immediately get packed because we were going to San Antonio and Sea World!! I was so excited!!! We immediately got packed and headed out. We ate at the river walk that night and went to Sea World early the next morning. We had a great day going to the shows and seeing all the animals. I wished we could have gone to the waterpark, but I couldn't because of my marks washing off:( But, we still had a wonderful time. We went out to a great italian restaurant that night and celebrated once again! We woke up on Sunday, went to church, and headed back to the Stanfill Suites. We went to the movies and ate again on Sunday, so needless to say, I was spoiled with lots of time with 2 of my best friends. Even though we have seen a lot of each other over the last months (since they have been there for absolutely everything- 1st doc visits, last chemo, surgery, coming and visiting me), we haven't spent much quality time because I typically wasn't feeling my best, so it was wonderful to be feeling good and laughing with the greatest friends. I have THE best friends in the whole entire world.

Proverbs 17:17 "A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need."

My husband of course made all of that possible, and he was so great to me. I felt so, so spoiled. We got another flat tire on Friday! 2 flat tires in a week's time- a little bit of bad luck, huh? A nail in the tire, in 2 different vehicles! Thankful we got it changed and were able to drive to San Antonio.

This week has been good so far and fairly uneventful. I had my class again yesterday, and it went well. It really is neat to see my classmates and Dr. Ray, 6 hours away. I have the best classmates ever. One of my friends, Lauren Fix, is such an amazing friend. She is so dependable and loyal, and I want to be more like her in so many ways. I got my birthday present in the mail from her- a book full of pictures throughout my time at the MFT program, filled not only with pictures but notes from the whole MFT program and scriptures throughout. She is the absolute best. Her mom recently fought breast cancer and won, so she is a support in school and in my life in so many ways, and the rest of my PhD class is so amazing and supportive as well. That book was just so special.

Also, today after my radiation treatment, my team (Andrew, Sally, and Huma) asked me to get dressed and come back out because they had a birthday present for me. At first, I thought they were joking, and then I realized they were completely serious. I got dressed and they were holding a big gift bag. I opened it and it was a beautiful bag/purse and scarf. They said they went to Target on their lunch break one day and picked it out for me- is that not the sweetest thing ever? They are the absolute best. They are genuinely sweet people, and I am so thankful to have them working on me. I can't imagine doing what they do each day and how draining that must be, and for them to take time out of their day for little ole' me is so kind. It made my day today. They also have given me ideas for things to do in Houston and are so gracious as I ask questions during my treatments.

One of those suggestions they gave us was to go to Galveston and the Kemah area. That is what we are doing this weekend. The Summers (whom we stayed with during the time my white count was low) have invited us to spend the weekend with them on the beach in Galveston. We are excited to get a mini-vacation this weekend. They are so sweet and generous to us, and we are looking forward to spending some time in Galveston and Kemah. We cruised out of Galveston on our honeymoon 6 years ago, but we didn't spend much time there, so it will be fun! So thankful we are enjoying our time here as much as possible, but I am missing home!

I really do miss home, but I told Josh this past week- he is where my home is. I know that sounds SO cheesy, but it is true. Yes, I miss my house, my family, my friends, my bed, my sweet dog, but my heart is at rest when I am with Josh. We could be on the other side of the world, but when I am with him, I am at rest. God has truly molded us together as one.

Soon, my mom will come visit and we are hoping to come home next weekend. 2 weeks down- 4 to go!! I completed my 11th treatment today and have 18 more:)

Oh and I met with Dr. Strom this week and I am having a slight skin reaction. He noticed some redness, but that is what he wants to see. Please continue praying that he gets the skin reaction he needs, but that it stays healthy. To know that you all haven't forgotten about me has meant so much. I've heard from so many that the hardest times can be at the end of treatment or when treatment is over. I am by no means anticipating that for me, but it does give me much to pray for. Thank you for loving us. My last treatment is July 12th..less than a month away:)

At my birthday dinner with my awesome man!

On the Riverwalk with my amazing friends, Ains and Marg.

This is a page in the book that my friend, Lauren put together for me. It is so, so sweet.

And this is the bag and scarf that my radiation team got for me- isn't it the cutest?!

Signed by my awesome team...

Josh once again changing out our tire..such a good sport

Love you all.. will update again next week. God is taking care of me here in Houston, but I miss you all!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

6 down...24 to go!

          Well, I have completed 6 radiation treatments, and I have 24 to go!!!! It has been a great week, all in all. I ended up officially starting my radiation on Thursday, May 31st. I had a test run on Wednesday and they took X-rays of me. After they did my X-rays on Wednesday, they explained they wanted to wait until Thursday to start radiation. The radiation went great and I didn't feel anything. Once again, the fears that can slip in my mind are endless. My mind started to wonder if they saw something in the X-ray when they decided to start on Thursday instead of Wednesday, but it was simply to just give them more time to set everything up. It's crazy how if one thing goes off schedule or not as planned, you can start to worry, but as I said in the last post, I stand firm in my faith, but it can be scary! Once again, how can people go through things like this without the Lord? It literally makes me sick to my stomach to even think about it. He is my rock.

Psalm 18:2
"The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my ROCK, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety."

        Radiation has gone really well. I really love the team that is working on me. Huma, Andrew, and Sally are really great. Each day they lay me on a table and line me up to the radiation lasers. They mark me up with markers that help with lining me up each day. I really haven't felt anything while I'm being radiated. I have to hold my breath for long periods of time, which is hard, but other than that, it is pretty easy. Every other day, they put this stuff on my skin that apparently acts as another layer of skin, which helps the radiation to be stronger. The people working with me come in and out and move my body in certain positions, as well as put different extensions on the machine. They are so, so nice. Music plays while I lay there holding my breath, so they make it as enjoyable as possible. They asked me if I was as swimmer because I could hold my breath so long! I was not, but I could always hold my breath under water a long time:)

         This summer is the summer of scarves, because my markers cannot be covered by clothing, unless I wear a turtleneck, which is not happening in this Houston summmer! So, I wear scarves with everything! I have to thank Stephanie Noland and all of those that prayed my hair would grow fast- God has answered with a big "yes!" Everyone at MDA is so impressed with my hair growth. I thought it was growing slowly, but I sit with ladies who finished chemo in January and their hair is a lot shorter than mine! So that is definitely exciting. I still do not feel like myself with this short hair, but I am trying to embrace it while it's like this.

         At the beginning, when we got down here, I felt lonely at times, but God is teaching me so many lessons, and I am doing much better now. We went to church Saturday night, and the sermon topic was on loneliness...I just laughed and smiled to myself. The pastor spoke about Paul and the loneliness he experienced in prison and what is required to not feel lonely. It really spoke to me and one of the things was of course companionship. Even though we are far from home, we have each other, the Stanfill's, and others that we can choose to spend time with. One of my friends from high school, Pam Inman, and her mom, Ms. Inman ate lunch with us on Monday in Houston. We had such a wonderful time, and it was great to visit with them. We also ate with Ms. Roseann and Mr. Clint Summers today for lunch, who was a couple that opened their home to us when I couldn't get chemo because of my low white count in December. It was so wonderful to see them and visit with them at lunch today. I love to be alone, but I also know we are made to be around others too. I am learning that balance. I am so thankful for great friends like the Inmans and the Summers. When I am home, I am somewhat "forced" to be around others (job and school) and then "forced" at times to be alone, but it isn't until you have that downtime when you can truly choose how to spend your time. Time is so precious! Spend your time wisely... I know that this whole process has definitely made me re-evaluate how I spend my time.

      I haven't been feeling tired, and I have no visible skin reaction thus far. A few weeks ago, I had a consult with a doctor nutritionist that recommended I do a 2 day detox. I finished that yesterday, and I am so glad that's over! Josh did the first day with me, and he felt so terrible, he couldn't do the second day... I'm glad that I did it, but I felt terrible yesterday...just part of it! We are staying with the Stanfills, and as their brother-in-law called their house, "Stanfill Suites." It has been great staying with them and spending time with them. Josh has been wonderful and so helpful to me. He has helped me with juicing, as we have done so much of that since I have finished chemo. If you remember, I was told to not juice during chemo because the antioxidants in the juice could actually counteract the chemo. But I was encouraged to do it after I finished chemo, so I have been drinking tons of juice! Ms. Renea had been juicing for me, which was a major blessing, and now we are taking it on. She would bring me juice each morning, and I was so very spoiled!! With as much as I am juicing, it can be quite the task to get done, and I am so thankful for Ms. Renea and Josh who have juiced so much for me! Josh also drives me to radiation each day which is such a blessing. The traffic can get crazy, and he likes to drive in it! So he drives me each morning and helps me with everything-- literally everything. On our way down to Houston, my car got a flat tire and he changed that for me- literally, he does everything! We went to Lafayette last weekend for a special family friends' graduation, and he drove the whole way there too. We enjoyed getting to see some of our friends that I had not seen in a very long time...some since we moved from Lafayette 13 years ago. So that was great. Now, I will enjoy not traveling for a little while.

        My birthday is Saturday!!! I can't believe I will be 25. I am so grateful for another year! I never thought I would be praying and hoping I would be alive at this point in my life, but many prayers of that nature have been prayed! I know the Lord will satisfy me with long life and this birthday is just the start of many, many more birthdays. Not sure what we will do on Saturday, but we will definitely be celebrating! Josh and I are realizing how quickly these next 5 weeks will go by. By the time I get done with radiation and we get something for lunch and get back to the Stanfill's, it is at least 1 o'clock. Then if I work out or work on my dissertation, it is 5 o clock so fast! So, God is definitely having the time go by fast, but we want to make sure we take advantage of this time by spending time with Him and just being still and resting in the Lord's presence.

And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

      I got my last expansion today on my right side! 75 more cc's. I am hurting in my chest and back, but it is much better than it has been before. Most of all, I was so happy at Dr. Villa and Alisha's response to the way I looked! They both said I looked awesome! He was super pleased of how my skin was looking on my left side too. So, so thankful for that. Please pray that my skin continues to look good and be healthy. If this happens, they can start expanding on the left 2 weeks after radiation. I am praying and believing that will happen.

       Oh, and I got the results for my last genetic test, the P 53 test, NEGATIVE!!! I was absolutely thrilled at this news. The genetic counselor is so sweet. Every time she calls she asks how I am and catches up with me- so sweet, but I'm thinking,"just tell me the results!" So after some small talk, she said she had some good news. She told me the P 53 was negative and told me what I have known- there is no genetic link for why I got breast cancer at 24. She said my sister and mom don't have a need to get tested genetically, outside of close monitoring and mammograms. Also, my daughters would need to get really early mammograms, but there is no known genetic link! When I was first diagnosed, I remember thinking that it would be good if I found out I was positive for the genetic mutation, then I would know why I got cancer- I am so thankful God knew better than me! Having that mutation would possibly having many negative implications, and this just furthers my belief that God simply supernaturally allowed me to go through this for the furtherance of His kingdom!! A big weight is off of me! But, honestly, I really haven't worried about it. I have just known it would be negative. We have waited over 7 months to knock out all genetic links and now we know!

Psalm 40
"I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed.They will put their trust in the Lord. Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord, who have no confidence in the proud, or in those who worship idols."

We miss our family and friends very much, but are so thankful to our God that this is the last course of treatment for me! We have so much to be happy about! Please feel free to call or email me, as I have some  free time. My Skype username is alyptaylor if any of you want to Skype. Thank you for continuing to pray for continual healing, wonderful radiation outcome, and healthy skin! Here are some pics from the last week.

Enjoying a night of downtime at the Stanfill Suites:)

 So thankful for my hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows! They are all coming in fast!! Thank you Lord!

This is just a little picture of some of my markers. They start at my collar bone and go all the way down to my belly button.

This was my handy man changing out my tire!

Love you all!