Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Your blog comments comfort and challenge me...

Can't believe it's been another week already. The Salon 7 fundraiser was absolutely amazing. I was able to hang out there some on Friday and it was awesome- the auction items, the food, the radio station, the t-shirts, the donations...INCREDIBLE! It was so odd to be at something that was for me. Josh and I both struggle accepting gifts from others and letting others help us with things, and this was an ultimate example of that. When I walked in on Friday, I realized that all of those people there were there for me. I feel so unworthy and have to switch that unworthy feeling to thankfulness, and that is just what I did. They raised $8,000!!!!! Yes, I didn't put too many zeros, eight thousand dollars!!!! This will cover our deductible that will be due at the beginning of the year and should cover any tests that insurance won't cover. One could not believe the weight that this fundraiser has taken off of Josh and I. We could have never imagined this much money to be raised. In the medical world, what seems like a lot of money to us is pocket change! We are continually reminded that God will provide for us. Thank you Salon 7 for helping us with expenses and just loving us enough to do this for us. I still really can't believe it all happened. I am overwhelmed at everything you guys did! You are Christ to me!!!

Josh and I went to Houston last week for an expansion and everything went well. We think that I am fully expanded on my right side, but we still have more to expand on the left. It is possible that next week will be my last expansion. My doctor also said that he thinks I could have my exchange surgery sooner than I initially thought. It should happen in March or sooner:) That was some surprising good news because we were thinking that the earliest it could happen would be March. I love when God gives me those little moments!

Thank you all for praying for my test that I had run last week. Everything came back negative, which was good, but we still don't really know what is going on. I had a gallbladder, liver, and kidney ultrasound on Monday and everything looked normal as well. SO thankful!!! If symptoms continue to persist into next week, they want to do some G.I. tests. Please pray that symptoms cease and that I don't even have to do these tests. When I have a test coming up, I can become so paralyzed with fear. I get frustrated with myself for getting to that place again when God has proved himself over and over. I still need lots of prayers for fear to cease, symptoms to cease, and complete healing.

"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands." Deut. 7:9

One thing that has been particularly helpful to me since October 17th is reading the blogs from a year ago on the date they were posted along with the comments. At the time they were written and we received comments, we were in "survive" mode, and I didn't really have time to read them all and let them sink in. So many of you gave us such good advice on how to seek God, have faith, and how to put my beliefs into practice. Others of you expressed your love for us, or how you were praying for us. To read what we were experiencing at the time, and then reading your responses to our pain and story is something that uplifted me at the time and maybe even moreso now. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading each post and the comments from a year ago. One person on the blog commented on how many wonderful Christian friends we have. I can sometimes take that for granted and not realize that we are the exception...WE ARE! I am so blessed by all of you...

"So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing." 1 Thess. 5:11

Last of the hairstylists at Salon 7, Jil Dasher (one of the most beautiful women I know), is participating in and encouraging a challenge called "No Make Up November." It is put on by Rave Ministries, and it encourages women of all ages to go without make-up for the month of November. Its' purpose is to bring attention to the pressure put on women to be what society calls "beautiful", rather than God's definition of beauty. Check out Jil's awesome blog and Rave Ministries' website.

So, here's to a whole month with no make-up. Praying it gives me the opportunity to share with others about finding my true beauty in Christ. I never fully understood what that meant until I was stripped of all "womanly beauty." My breasts, my hair, my eyelashes, my eyebrows, my nails...all I had left was me. I truly think I felt most beautiful during my chemo when I came to the realization that God saw me more beautiful than ever before- fully seeking Him with my whole heart, in complete desperation. Praying I will only get more beautiful in His eyes... Join me on this month journey:)

"Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful." 1 Peter 3:4-5a.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Salon 7 Fundraiser and Life Lately

Hey guys,

It feels like a while since I've written and it has been a busy, great last couple of weeks. As you saw from Josh's post, last week made a year from my initial diagnosis. I am so thankful beyond words. I had the chance to share last week on my 1 year diagnosis anniversary. I spoke to the CCS chapel about how my love for God has changed over this last year, and how his love for me has impacted my journey. Although I cried most of the time, it was an honor to share some of what God has done in my life over the last year- I feel like I have so much to share! It is so hard, and just simply impossible to share the things God has done in my life in a "speech" or an "interview." I could literally talk all day long and still not begin to explain how this past year has impacted me and my relationship with God.

I know I've shared this before but I love it:
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." Rev. 12:11

I thought it was neat the way God timed my speaking to chapel- on the actual 1 year anniversary. I got a text from Ms. Jenny, one of my many encouragers throughout this, that basically said that me declaring what the Lord has done is basically giving the devil a kick in the face:) I hadn't thought about the actual day and what that was saying to the devil... I will overcome by Jesus' blood and the word of my testimony!

I also spoke at Delta Community College's breast cancer awareness program on the day after my 1 year anniversary. God's timing is perfect, isn't it? I hadn't spoke to a group since July and then 2 events, two days in a row, surrounding my anniversary. I was able to share my story with others, tell of Jesus' healing, and bring awareness to breast cancer and women being proactive. It was wonderful, and so many came up to me afterwards telling of how touched they were by my story. I shared the video that Josh made for me after my last chemo, and I am always amazed at how moved people are by it. People have facebooked me about it, emailed me, asked me where I go to church, hugged me, thanked me, cried with truly is amazing how God's story of healing me reaches so many people. God has big plans for me, and I know one of those plans is continuing to tell His story about me...and I will...forever and ever!

This past week has been kind of crazy because I have had midterms, but thank the Lord, they are over! I just turned in my last paper yesterday and did a presentation. I have been feeling much better with my back. It doesn't hurt much at all any more and just flares up from time to time. I went to the doctor this week in Monroe, as my oncologist advised that for the pain I am still having in my side and some stomach issues. They are running some tests to see if they can figure out what is going on. We should have some of the results on Friday. Please pray that the results can give us some answers or guidance on how to proceed and keep me the healthiest possible.

Satan has been attacking me this week- especially in my dreams. The worst possible nightmares you can imagine. God has been opening my spiritual eyes so much here lately and I am seeing and realizing things about God, Satan, and myself that I've never seen before. I am thankful for this spiritual insight, but I know that can sometimes fuel Satan's attacks. I'm standing firm, but I definitely need prayers. Thank you for praying for this... I need God's protection on my life in every way.

"But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy." Psalm 5:11

So, I am super excited about a fundraiser that is going on for Aly's fight on Friday. I get my hair done at Salon 7 with Stephanie Noland, and she is amazing. She is the one who rallied everyone together to get money for Racquel (my wig) and she washed and styled Racquel during my 6 months of no hair. The entire salon and the people who worked there have been some of my biggest supporters. Many of them go to my church. After I was first diagnosed, I went there to get my hair cut for the first cut and they prayed over me, loved on me, and cried with me...Stephanie also brushed my hair out of a rats nest that took place when my hair really started falling out, as she indiscreetly kept putting huge balls of hair into the trash can when I wasn't looking...they care about me, love me and pray for me... I could go on and on about them, but they are doing yet another thing for me- AMAZING, right?

Well Erin Goodfellow, another awesome friend and hairstylist at Salon 7 contacted me about doing a fundraiser. I had no idea what all they were is awesome. The fundraiser is this Friday, October 26th from 10a.m. until 5 p.m. They are shutting down the salon that day to do this- I'm still in awe! They have had many businesses donate items for a silent auction, they are selling plate lunches, and selling super cute salon 7 t-shirts. They are also selling pink extension and pink hair prodcuts that will go towards Aly's fight as well. I am working on Friday morning, but then heading over there that afternoon to hang out with these awesome girls doing all of this for me. To have people still supporting us and realizing we are still struggling is the biggest blessing. I want to be more like this. When I see people struggling, or when the "fight" seems to be over, I want to be insightful enough to realize they are still struggling, and I want to DO something. Thank you Salon 7 for being that example to me!!!

This is how I feel about Salon 7. They exemplify this verse : "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35

Pictures are posted below of what Salon 7 looks like this week. Hope you will at least come by the salon and give me a hug or say hi. I will be there:) The address is 511 Hudson lane, Monroe La. From 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Please continue to pray for complete healing, good test results, protection from the evil one, and that God's story of my healing with continue to be shared! Over 235,000 views of this blog...making Jesus famous!

The front of Salon 7
Some of the "pink" hair products

 Flyers they have put out
Pumpkins at the Salon

Salon 7 t-shirts they are selling

Me speaking at CCS chapel being interviewed by my brother-in-law, Lee

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Today makes one year since Aly was diagnosed. As we came to this day I can honestly say there is more shock about it already being a year than anything else. We are still in the midst of this, but to go back through those first days is a bit overwhelming.

One thing I have told people is that we were protected by lack of knowledge. I had no idea what to expect. All we had to overcome were large amounts of fear, really large amounts. We were thrown into a fist fight which most fist fights are won by large amounts of fighting and some pain tolerance. We were just fighting to survive.

A little re-cap of October 17th, 2011

Oct 17, 4:30pm We were in the process of building our house and I had decided we would prep the sheetrock for paint. I don't advise this to anyone but me and Aly of course. We knew that Monday we would find out the results of Aly's spot she had removed. We were at our new house and had just walked in to our guest room to begin sanding when Aly's phone rang. She proceeded to walk away and sit in the corner and I knew what was being said on the other end of that phone.

I wish I could tell you I had many ideas of what to say or do but I didn't. When Aly got off the phone let's just say the details were foggy. I called the Dr. back to clarify what he had told her. I remember a few things from that day but not much else. I remember Aly's reaction, I remember calling my dad and then I remember seeing Lee and Rachel. I had never envisioned us having to tell our parents that Aly had cancer. I thought it would have been the other way around.

Oct 17, 7pm You just found out that you have cancer and you still have to let the dog out, eat supper which I am not sure either of us ate for at least a few days, and work toward going to sleep.

Aly's mom came over, and my parents were out of town.

Oct 18, ????am  You were told you have cancer and you still woke up the next day. Not sure what Aly says about this but in my mind I didn't know what it meant. Would Aly look different the next day? Would she start to look like someone with cancer? What do we do? We knew we were going to the Dr. office around 2:30 so it is hard to do anything useful with your day with that hanging out there.

Oct 18, 2:30pm. We meet with the Dr. who suggests we go to MD Anderson ASAP due to it's aggression.

Oct 18 3:00pm. MD Anderson starts getting calls from us. You tell people they have cancer and then they find out they cant see a Dr. for two weeks. RIGHT.

Oct 18 4:00pm. We didn't know what else to do so we went to the new house and started working. Not sure we got anything done but it beat sitting around being scared I guess. My brother and Brandon Brown came over to help.

Fast forward-

Oct 21- We went to Baton Rouge to meet with a Dr. who had treated one of Aly's family friends. He said for us to get a test run that he couldn't get us in that day. I then called Dr. Borders and asked if he could get us in to the one in Monroe and he gave me what to this day I consider to be one of the best pieces of info for me at that moment in that situation. He said "Josh, medicine does not work like this." I was trying to solve this like I solve a price that is too high on a building material-wrong game. He didn't say just that, but that was what I needed to hear and it settled me. As I look back, that was the first "be still" moment. We had an appointment at the best place in the world.

---One of the biggest points I will say about people dealing with cancer. It is your battle; it will look different than ours. Outside of confirming for you if Aly was given the same drugs, you don't need to know anything else. Information on the internet or from your friend's friend whose cousin knew somebody in our experience is far more a vehicle of fear than it is useful information.

You will not catch us telling people what to do or expect- it's not fair and most likely will not be the experience for them. Love them, pray and encourage them, and maybe they will not have any side effects. Telling someone else Aly's horror story doesn't help them deal with their situation.

Oct 23 6:00pm. Some of our friends put together a "party" for us to do what we weren't sure. That night turned out to be what I would consider to be one of the biggest parts of those early weeks. People spoke life to us. It was unreal. That night Ron and Amy Harris sang to us. Fast forward to today Oct 17, 2012 and Ron Harris came up to me and said, "Josh, I know you may think people see you guys and forget that you're still fighting now more than ever, but I promise Amy and I don't, and we love and are praying for you guys." This carries weight from anyone, but it especially carries weight from a man who lost a newborn child in 2001. I have thought about that all day today. I thought we were dying a thousand little deaths this year with every little blow that happened, but that puts perspective on our suffering.

Oct 24th We left early for Baton Rouge and then headed to Houston.

Oct 26th On Wednesday morning Aly had a mammogram and ultrasound. Our journey took a huge change, even though we didn't quite realize it, when they found disease in the lymph nodes during the ultra sound. This takes you from Stage 1 to Stage 3 and the only difference between terminal cancer and stage 3 is finding it in one more place. We didn't know this at the time- thank you Jesus.

Oct 26th 7pm We went to Lakewood church in Houston. Beck Payne sent a video of the kids at Family Church praying for us.

Oct 27th Early am? We arrived at MD Anderson for what would be a marathon day.
At 10am we met with Dr. Morrow who put a hurry on everything. In that meeting we went from cancer treatment to preserving fertility. We then went and had another meeting, and then came back to talk about fertility. When Dr. Morrow put the information out there, she said you need to start Chemo now which means you are giving up the idea of guaranteed egg preservation. I asked her to leave the room while we talked, and this even as I type it is unreal to think about, but we sat in a room in Houston, Texas and prayed and believed that God would let us have kids but what was most important right now was to get Aly treated. Mind you, the reason Aly found the lump was because she was told when you're pregnant your breast are sore, and we were open to having a baby. So in the span of 10 days we went from attempting pregnancy to knowingly endangering the possibility.

Oct 27th 3pm Aly got a Bone scan. At this point, all we had was bad news so to receive some good news we were happy. The scan came back negative.

Oct 28th Aly has her first round of chemo. I don't know what else to say except I was in utter shock. At this point we're almost two weeks into this process and the train seems to still be gaining speed.

Oct 28th 7pm We met at the Galleria to eat at a placed called Kona. Our friends, the Shows, were in town to hear a preacher at Lakewood, and we met them to eat. Something to stop us from talking about the fact that Aly had cancer and had just had chemo was welcomed.

Well, thats enough timeline for now. I'll pick up on the 28th at some point. It is 11:29pm- I'm crying, Aly is practicing her speech for tomorrow at Delta Community College about breast cancer, and Bella is snoring-we are quite the collection.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

October is here!

Hey to my faithful readers:) Everything went well this week in Houston, and I cannot thank you for praying enough. We have had such a wonderful weekend. It has been a long time since we haven't done much over the weekend and relaxed. It was so, so great. We also spent more than a day in Houston, which isn't convenient for school and work purposes, but for exhaustion purposes, it was much more relaxed, which was wonderful.

Josh and I got back Wednesday afternoon after all my appointments. I had my ultrasound on Tuesday morning, as well as an expansion. I could go forever without an ultrasound and I would be oh so happy. Well, I will happily welcome a baby ultrasound when my time comes:), but breast ultrasounds- no thank you. They are the most nerve-wracking things ever, and I was reminded of that this time. This was my first ultrasound since before my mastectomy, so everything looked completely different on the ultrasounds, mainly because I normally would see lymph nodes, and all of my lymph nodes under my arm were removed. She basically looked at seromas (which are fluid collections) from my recent surgery, but also looked at 2 lymph nodes toward the inside of my chest. The radiologist came in and said that these lymph nodes looked completely benign, which was a relief, but once again, they are never the nicest, most upbeat people, and always come in with a quiet voice that makes you think bad news is getting delivered.

We met with Dr. Strom on Wednesday to go over the ultrasound and he expressed some concern over my ultrasound. The 2 lymph nodes that we found on the ultrasound were lymph nodes that had never been seen on an ultrasound before. It basically boiled down to him thinking that their new ultrasound technology is just simply allowing them to see more. He is thinking and hoping that these lymph nodes were already there. He said that he had been running around the morning of my appointment trying to look up old tests of mine  to compare because he was concerned. He was happy to have found an old MRI that showed the appearance of 2 small looking lymph nodes in the place where they saw the lymph nodes on Tuesday. To make a long story short, he wants me to have another ultrasound in 3 months, but he is confident that these lymph nodes have always been there. It is not normal for new lymph nodes to develop, so he wants to be sure this is not the case in my case. It wasn't bad news, but it felt like it. To see him kind of shaken, since he had been running around that morning, definitely shook us up. We are trusting and believing that the ultrasound was perfect, just like we all prayed for.  I have trusted him from my childhood, and will continue to trust him even now. He has proved himself over and over and over.

"For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my trust from my youth and the source of my confidence. "Psalm 71: 5

Once again, I am reminded of all God has brought me through. When I see how concerned doctors can get with me, it is scary. Dr. Strom said, "We will always struggle when it comes to you. Questioning if we should do a whole cat-scan work up, or no tests at all." I am thankful for these concerned doctors, but I just wish they would see that I am healed and stop being concerned. I know that thought for a doctor is "irrational" and they must do their job in monitoring me, but it is not the best thing for my mind to continue to have doctors so concerned. I am praying and believing that I will be a patient that they slowly but surely stop worrying so much about as they see me being restored to full and total health. I will just keep on trusting...

"[Most] blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is." Jeremiah 17:7

I had to keep reminding myself that it was a good visit!!! It just felt bad, but all of the information was good- no bad information. Praise God! I also got expanded a good bit, and my P.A., Alisha, was confident that we would be able to get me back to my breast size pre-mastectomy. Thank you for your prayers. I love when God answers our specific prayers so obviously. Up until my last visit, they continued to be discouraging about being able to be fully expanded, so I was so thankful for the change in thought.  I should only have to get expanded 2 more times, then we will wait 4-6 months to have the implant exchange surgery. So ready for that surgery- By then, Lord willing, I will be an aunt times 2, be almost done with my PhD course work, and I will be that much closer to the 2 year mark. Come on March and April:)!

I definitely have the "iron bra" syndrome that I've heard mastectomy patients talk about. It's name is exactly what it feels like. I feel like I have an iron bra on 24/7. I've heard that this is much better once you have the implant exchange surgery, as implants are much softer. I am ready for that...just to be comfortable. There were so many things I used to take for granted. I am still so blessed, but who would have thought I would ever feel bad for never thanking God for soft breasts? ha... Thankful for his grace and Him knowing my heart.

So, we will go back to Houston on October 25th (Josh's 28th bday) to get expanded, and then will go back 2 weeks after that, and we will be done with expansions:) Thank you Jesus. October will pass before we know it. There are so many memories in October and so many milestones that I am about to be able to celebrate. I am SO thankful. In fact today, October 14th, was the day of my surgical biopsy of my lump. I remember waking up to Josh and my mom and them telling me that my lump was benign and that it looked great...such relief, only to have the pathology come back 3 days later with my news of breast cancer on October 17th. Such mixed emotions...a second opinion doctor's appointment on October 21st, a cat scan on Josh's bday, the 25th, doctors appointments at MD Anderson on the 26th and 27th, and my first day of chemo on the 28th. From the time of diagnosis to my first chemo wasn't even 2 weeks. And October is breast cancer awareness month, so I am of course reminded of my cancer all month. It is beyond exciting to have these milestones upon me... I am so thankful. I can't wait to find ways to celebrate all God has done and to use these dates to continually share with my future children all that God has brought mommy through.

I know most of us have heard Deuteronomy 6 over and over, but I love it.

“These are the commands, decrees, and regulations that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you. You must obey them in the land you are about to enter and occupy, and you and your children and grandchildren must fear the LORD your God as long as you live. If you obey all his decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life. Listen closely, Israel, and be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you, and you will have many children in the land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you. “Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. “The LORD your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you when he made a vow to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. When you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the LORD, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. You must fear the LORD your God and serve him. When you take an oath, you must use only his name. “You must not worship any of the gods of neighboring nations, for the LORD your God, who lives among you, is a jealous God. His anger will flare up against you, and he will wipe you from the face of the earth. You must not test the LORD your God as you did when you complained at Massah.You must diligently obey the commands of the LORD your God—all the laws and decrees he has given you. Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so all will go well with you. Then you will enter and occupy the good land that the LORD swore to give your ancestors. You will drive out all the enemies living in the land, just as the LORD said you would. “In the future your children will ask you, ‘What is the meaning of these laws, decrees, and regulations that the LORD our God has commanded us to obey?’ “Then you must tell them, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with his strong hand. The LORD did miraculous signs and wonders before our eyes, dealing terrifying blows against Egypt and Pharaoh and all his people. He brought us out of Egypt so he could give us this land he had sworn to give our ancestors. And the LORD our God commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear him so he can continue to bless us and preserve our lives, as he has done to this day. For we will be counted as righteous when we obey all the commands the LORD our God has given us.’ Deuteronomy 6

I am speaking at 2 events this week: Claiborne Christian School's chapel service, and Delta Community College's breast cancer awareness presentation. I am by no means a speaker, so please pray that the Lord will get his message across and that I will get out of the way- that his story would be shared and that people would be touched, encouraged, and drawn near to him. God's story in me is something I want to share until I am an old, old, lady, and I will do just that. I proclaimed Psalm 118:17- that I would live and proclaim the works of the Lord and that is exactly what I will do.

Please continue to pray for my requests from the last post. My back pain is MUCH better, I believe that my ultrasound WAS perfect, and my expansions were successful!!! I'm still having the aching on my right side and need continued prayers for health. wholeness, peace, a wonderful follow-up ultrasound in January. Pray that Josh and I find ways to honor God in the month of October and the following months that have so many dates that will forever be ingrained in our minds.  Join me in PRAISING the Lord during this celebratory month of October.

"Sing to the LORD! Praise the LORD! For though I was poor and needy, he rescued me from my oppressors." Jeremiah 20:13

Monday, October 8, 2012

There is power in the name of Jesus!

So, I'm sure you have all heard by now, but by bone scan was not only clear, but PERFECT! Everything looked completely normal! Josh suggested that we get to the hospital early to see if we could get in early, and that is exactly what happened. A nurse practitioner walked in our room, introduced herself, and then said, "Everything is completely normal," and I burst into tears. It was one of those awkward moments when she has more information to give me, but can't quite say what she is wanting to say because I am crying so much...ha ha. I just kept apologizing and telling her how thankful I was. We had never met this nurse before. She is a breast cancer survivor and shared some of her experiences with us, which was very helpful. She even showed us the bone scan, which was neat to look at. We are still not sure what is going on with my back and rib/stomach. She basically said that it is most likely my body trying to get back to normal with all that it has been through. She gave us some things to try, so we will definitely be doing those. She explained to us that she hasn't come across a breast cancer survivor that doesn't have a "spot." Meaning, a spot that aches or bothers them, or feels weird, or flares up. She showed us where hers is, and that she just knows that's her "spot." So maybe this spot on my rib/stomach is my "spot", and my back pain will heal very soon. Like I said before, I can deal with any pain, but it of course would be nice to have some relief. So, please keep praying that my rib/stomach and back continue to heal and feel better every day. My 6 month check up with my oncologist was scheduled for Nov. 2nd, but since they saw me in the office on Friday, they said they won't have to see me for 3 months from then. So, my next oncology check up is January 7th.

 When I went to get my injection for the bone scan on Thursday, I realized that this was one of the first "cancer-type" things that I've had to do since finishing treatment. While all of my reconstructive issues haven't been pleasant, they haven't dealt with cancer issues, and these tests most definitely do! As I was in a back room getting an IV put in for my bone scan, I was taken back to when I was getting those first tests and just cancer treatment in general- the pain of the IV, watching Josh watching me, the smells, the nurses, the was in that moment when all of the emotions rushed over me. I am sitting there begging God to not have me go through this again. I am a willing vessel and will be used for whatever he needs me for, but was definitely honest in that moment and have been much like David begging for my life.

"To you, Lord, I called to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me. Lord, be my help.” You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever." Psalm 30: 8-12

Josh's parents and my mom were able to come down for my scan and appointment and of course, we were all overjoyed to hear the results. One test holding so much weight is overwhelming. With it being clear, we go home and go on with life. If it had not been clear, our worlds would stop. One ends in a car ride home; the other ends in deciding treatment options. There isn't much of a middle ground and that is where the Lord literally has to hold my hand and carry me.

"Surely God is my help: the Lord is the one who sustains me." Psalm 54:4

Josh and I have talked much about how this test has given us relief, and we are so very thankful. As we look over this past year, we see that we have been in a valley, with highs and lows, but staying in the valley. We are trying to find that balance of celebrating a good report, with still remaining in our valley. What I mean by that is we want to be just as desperate for God this week as we were last week. I am by no means saying that we are staying sad, doom, gloom, etc..., but realizing our desperate need for God each day- good reports, bad reports, tired days, days full of energy. We believe we will stand on our mountain and have full proof by man's eye of complete healing and wholeness, but we never want to forget what God has done, or get to a place where God has to allow something to happen to have us desperate. We want him to know we are always desperate for Him. For our physical health, for guidance in every part of our lives, for the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts, for our families, for our children...the list goes on and on. We are striving for a balance between staying in our "valley" and celebrating the victories!!! But, there is no doubt about it, a victory was indeed celebrated this week, and I know there are MANY more to come.

What's next??? Well, Josh and I will leave this afternoon to head to Houston. By rough calculations, I think it is trip #44 to Houston. Crazy, huh?! I have a breast ultrasound tomorrow morning in preparation for my radiation check-up appointment on Wednesday. I guess they are doing an ultrasound to make sure everything looks good. The last time I had a breast ultrasound was when I actually had breasts:) it will be interesting to see how this one goes. I will also get expanded tomorrow. I am not sure how many more expansions I will be able to get. Our goal was to get me back to the breast size I was before my mastectomy, but we are not sure if we will be able to attain that. My left breast (the radiated side) does not stretch as well, so it is a kind of watch and see type deal to see how much it can be expanded. I would like to look as close to my old self, but once again these cosmetic issues pale in importance to the others, but I of course, would like to feel like myself. So, we will have appointments on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Things to pray for/ continue to pray for:
1: Total healing
2: Back, rib/stomach pain to subside
3: Breast ultrasound to look perfect
4: Great radiation check-up
5. Breast expansions to be successful
6. Balance in all areas for Josh and I
7. My fertility

The things that bring me to tears the most are envisioning so many of you praying for me. I know there have been so many on their knees calling out to God on my behalf. I have been so needy over this past year, and I want to get to a place soon where I can extend my genuine, heartfelt, inexpressible gratitude for your faithfulness to prayer for me. I have felt so emotionally, physically, spiritually exhausted to be able to serve, thank, give back to others. I am looking forward to be able to give back, although I assume I will be in a deficit forever. I am one thankful girl.

Another exciting piece of news, I will be an aunt again at the end of February or March. My sister, Jessica, and her husband Jeremy are having a little boy!!! So, we will have a niece in January and a nephew shortly thereafter. 2013 will be an exciting, joyful year in Jesus' name!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bone scan scheduled for Thursday

Hey guys,

Thank you all so much for praying for my was clear!!! Praise the Lord! I was relieved to know it was clear, but honestly, I was really hoping it would show a broken rib, or some inflammation from surgery to explain what I am feeling. So, I am relieved it was clear, but still unsure of what is going on. So, please continue to pray for that.

I got expanded again last week and Josh took my last drain out Monday night... I feel free. It seems like forever since I haven't had a drain. I can take a shower, lay in bed, and wear clothes without worrying about a plastic tube half way in my body and half way out.

The funniest/wierdest thing happened the other night. I woke up in the middle of the night and I put my head on my pillow and felt  something hard underneath my head. It was the bulb on my drain. I laughed that it got all the way up there. So, I went to move it and the tubing on the drain was wrapped three times around my head/neck! I don't know if I did that, or if Josh did, but of course now I joke with Josh about trying to kill me in my sleep! So, the "dangerous" drain is now out of this body of mine! Thank you Jesus. It still was not draining the required amount, but since it had been 6 weeks since surgery, it had to come out- that is the longest it is supposed to stay in. Praise God it is out, and please pray I do not have any fluid build up, as it was still draining when I had to take it out. So far, so good.

I know I told you guys that I had been having some scary "symptoms." One of those has been some lower back pain. It started up about 2 weeks ago and I haven't gotten much relief. After much discussion with my nurse, and her talking with my doctor, they recommended a bone scan. My doctor also wanted to see me in person because of these "symptoms." So, we will head to Houston tomorrow morning and have a bone scan at 3:30. I have to get an injection at 1:30 and let it sit, then have the scan, so that what needs to show up in the scan shows up like it is supposed to. I will meet with Dr. Litton at 12:20 on Friday to go over the results and discuss any other concerns with her.

My emotions have been an absolute roller coaster for the past week, but in the last couple of days, I have gained some more peace. Just knowing that the results from one test could change everything, is extremely scary. I have kept telling God that I could handle anything except cancer again. Through this week and some conversations that I have had, I will not be scared of cancer. And I could handle cancer again- do I want to? no. do I believe I am going to? no. But I will not be scared of it. God is bigger and stronger than cancer and He is on my side.

I have been getting so many encouraging and positive words from people, and that has been wonderful, but some lately have told me some things that didn't settle with me quite well at first, but as I began to think on them, I realized that they were words of wisdom. I was talking with one of my best friends, crying and telling her my concerns, and she said "Aly, you can't be scared of cancer. God is bigger than cancer." I know that may sound like a simple statement, but it hit me that I have been so scared of cancer, and Satan has probably been loving that. Would I be devastated if I had cancer again? Of course, but I won't let the fear consume me- much easier said than done:)

Another person also said to me, "If it comes back, you will fight and the Lord will win again." Of course, in the moment, I am thinking ,"Don't even speak that!!!" But I have come to grips with that. I don't believe it will come on me a second time, but if it does, God will walk me through. I think that accepting that has taken some of Satan's fuel away to scare me.

So, that was the long way of saying that I feel more at peace now. The relief that will rush over my body when I hear her say that the scan is clear-can't even describe!!! I am thanking the Lord now for good results. I also want answers as to what these aches/pains are, so please pray for that too.

I identify so much with David in reading the Psalms and I could write psalm after psalm from David crying out to God. Asking God to save him-to keep him safe-to pull him out of trouble--when armies and enemies are standing at every side. Here is just one of the many that I pray today:

Psalm 3---"O Lord, I have so many enemies;so many are against me. So many are saying,“God will never rescue him!” But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy mountain. I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety,for the Lord was watching over me. I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side.Arise, O Lord! Rescue me, my God. Slap all my enemies in the face!Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Victory comes from you, O Lord.May you bless your people."

I continue to stand on God's word that I am healed, so don't think for a second I have backed down from that. Just wanted to be vulnerable to let you know where I'm at. Please be on your face today and tomorrow for me- praying for a clear, cancer-free scan!!!

Here are some pictures below from the Race for the Cure this weekend. I couldn't get pics with everyone. Thank you to all who came  and supported me. I have such great friends and family. I love you all!

Some sweet friends, Bryan and Kristen

My sweet friend from high school, Melanie

My wonderful family!