The Lord is so good to me and just so amazingly faithful. We've had a great last week/weekend, and we have spent a lot of time with others which has been great. We have had dinner with the Stanfills several times and also gotten to see a few people who we haven't seen in a really long time! My cousin Josh works with his youth group at his church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Well, they were in Houston last week putting on VBS camps for kids in Houston. He asked me a few weeks back if I would be willing to speak to their youth group one night when they were in Houston, and I said, "Yes!" I've never spoken to a big group outside of a school setting, so I was very nervous, but it was a great experience. God has saved me and healed me for many reasons- some I will never know, but I do know that one of those reasons is for me to tell my story and share God's goodness and the miracle He has done in me. So, I am praying that doors continue to open to tell my story and give testimony of my healing.
Rev. 12:11 "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.
Speaking to his youth group went really well, and I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be. The hardest part of all in telling my story is editing it. If I told of every amazing thing God has done to prepare us for this journey, as well as every amazing thing He has done along the way, I would speak for hours and hours and hours. So, it was greatly shaved down, and then we had a question and answer session that was really neat. My Josh helped me out tremendously and answered many of the questions that were directed toward him and our marriage. I pray that our story, even though ours has to do with cancer, can be relatable to so many regardless of their circumstances.To recount all God has done, and all we have been through is overwhelming. Not even so much in the sense of overwhelming of all we have been through, but all He has brought us through- THAT is overwhelming.
It was also great to see my cousin, Josh and get to spend some time with him. We don't get to see that side of the family too often since they live in New Mexico, so when we do, it definitely is a treat. My aunt and uncle from Albuquerque are coming to visit next week in Monroe so we are excited to see them too!
I also got together with a friend that I met during chemo this week. When I was in about my 5th week of chemo, I was coming back from an ultrasound, and I saw a girl who had her scarf tied really cute around her head, and I asked her about it. That brought about more conversation and we got to know each other throughout our treatment process. She was stage 1 and had a terrible time with the chemo. We would get chemo on the same days and saw each other often. She had a unilateral mastectomy and we have kept in touch, as she was a little ahead of me. She is due to have her reconstruction on the 16th of July. Irena is so great, and we had a wonderful lunch together. Josh came and joined us at the end of our lunch, and Josh and I had a good talk afterwards. He just brought to my attention the bond that breast cancer survivors have that is just so special. He said that it is so neat to see two people at completely different stages of life and feel so connected. If someone was not "versed" in breast cancer language, they would have no idea of most of our lunch conversation. She just turned 40 and also has Dr. Litton as her oncologist. Since Dr. Litton specializes in young breast cancer, it is really neat to find other young breast cancer survivors, and even more neat to have the same oncologist. Because Irena didn't have to have radiation, she is almost done with everything! I am so thrilled for her and I definitely have made a life-long friend.
We also got together on Friday with Brandie and Mark. I wrote about Brandie a while back. She and her husband were following our blog and stopped us in the MDA waiting room a few months ago, as they recognized us from the blog. She is also triple negative for hormones and was 36 when diagnosed. She was 9 months pregnant and had a c-section to have her baby so they could start chemo immediately. She also has a two-year-old little boy. They are so sweet and down-to-earth. She is on the same regimen of treatment as me, although I don't think she will have to have radiation. She was diagnosed at Stage2A and just started her first FAC treatment. She was just starting to feel a little better as the first week on FAC was coming to an end, but it was so great to see them. Her 3 month old baby girl, Virginia, was able to come too. Although I have gotten to know several other breast cancer survivors and those undergoing treatment, I haven't had much involvement with anyone else that is triple negative, so that is a major blessing. We had a great lunch with them all and it is like watching myself just a few short months ago. One again, our talk about breasts, wigs, scarves, symptoms, fears... those conversations are pretty invaluable. We also share stories of amazing things people have said to us, as well as terrible things people have said to us. Brandie shared a top 10 list of things to never say to a breast cancer patient- so true and funny to say the least. I pray that her seeing me with my hair growing back and God's healing in my life brings her encouragement and leads her to even more fully rely on the Lord. So thankful for others like Brandie and Mark.
I remember when I was first diagnosed, I talked to Ms. Joy Macmahan, who is a 5 year + breast cancer survivor. I believe it was the day after I was diagnosed, and she said, "Well, you have just become the member of a new family. I know it was a family that you would never want to be a part of, but you are in a family." That is so true of breast cancer survivors. I have felt that this week, and I know as I meet and get to know others, it will be even more true.
We also had a great weekend in Lake Charles this past weekend with our friends, Kase and Kelly Gonzales. We mostly just hung out and laid low, which was so great to do. There aren't many people that you can just sit around with and enjoy your time so much, but we can with the Gonzales'. They are so special to us, and we had a wonderful time with them this weekend, seeing some of where they have been over the past year. Kelly is such a special friend to me and was one of my first friends I made when I went to LSU during undergrad. Her phone calls during my treatment and even now are LIFE to me. I love her with all my heart! I am so blessed with many friends, but I have a small group that are what I believe God wants friendship to look like. I am reminded constantly that I am in the minority with such amazing, Godly friends. These last 9 months would have looked and felt so different without them. So, to get to spend an entire weekend with one of them- perfection!
My skin is suffering quite a bit, but I am still having faith it will be healthy once all this is over. I have little blisters in some spots, which is quite uncomfortable, but just part of it! Please pray that my skin will recover to complete health and that I will not have discomfort, pain, or irritation. I know that if I ask for anything, and believe I have received it, it will be mine. I am strong!
Joel 3:10 "Let the weak say I am strong."
Mark 11:24 "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them."
Josh and I have talked much over the last past week of how things will and must be different when we are back home. Dr. Litton has told me and the other young ladies to continue doing what we were doing when we were on treatment, because we did so well. Well, I worked part-time, wasn't in class as much, ate very healthy, and rested alot. In August, I will start back school and work, and I am somewhat nervous. School will be 2 days a week, but work will be each day. I am trying to find a balance, and I really need prayer concerning it. We not only want to spend our time differently for spiritual purposes, but I want so much about my life to be different. I truly believe that nothing I "did" caused cancer, but I do not think it would be wise to go back to doing everything I did "pre-cancer"--Which is why I have changed my diet, and I know I need to change much of my lifestyle. I have always been a very laid back person and would not consider myself "stressed" by any means. There is much research that shows being stressed or leading a stressed lifestyle can contribute to breast cancer and/or reoccurrence, so I of course will be trying to eliminate stress. I'm still not sure what that looks like. I am praying that the Lord will show me what that balance is. One thing we know and have committed to is that things will look different for me and for us. I am thankful the Lord has opened my eyes up to these changes, and I am trusting He shows me how to make them. Please pray that God will direct me as I change much about how I live my life. Here are some pictures from last week. The next time I write, I will be done with treatment!! All glory to God!!!!
Dinner with the Stanfills
Holding sweet Virginia at lunch with Brandie and Mark
Me and Irena
Me and my Kel