I'm back from Houston and everything went perfectly at my appointments. I am so grateful and I have to continue to remind myself to be thankful for this good visit, as it's easy to focus on the negative things. The atmosphere at MDA is great, but it is still an atmosphere I don't want to be around, and that can get me down, regardless of good reports... I am working on this!
My mom drove me down to meet Josh in Houston and I am so grateful for her always willingness to drive me to Houston. We went to church on Sunday and then met my sweet friend, Irena for lunch, at a place called Roots Bistro-so good! I've told you before, but I met Irena while we were both getting chemo at MD Anderson. She is so wonderful and is doing so great. She recently had her reconstructive surgery, had many complications, but is doing wonderfully. She has the same oncologist that I do, Dr. Litton, so we have that in common as well. I praise the Lord for both of our healings!
We ate with the Stanfills Sunday night and went to bed early because my appointments started at 7:10 on Monday morning. The Stanfills live about 40 minutes from the hospital, and with Houston morning traffic, we normally leave at least an hour before my appointments, so we often get up very early while in Houston. We wouldn't have it any other way. We love our second family, the Stanfills. They have gone above and beyond for us. We love them and miss them when we go for periods without seeing them.
My ultrasound was first thing Monday morning and once again it was very scary. I kept praying that I would get a rad tech that would actually talk to me, and that the radiologist would be friendly and positive, and that is exactly what I got. Thank you God! My ultrasound tech was one I had when I was undergoing chemo (Jacqueline), so she remembered me. She was very nice. When I asked her if everything looked good, she told me that her job was "to perform and not interpret":) So, I had to wait on the radiologist. This was the first time that a radiologist walked in and said, "It looks like those lymph nodes still appear benign and normal, but I want to see them myself." I appreciated that so much. Normally, they are so silent until the very end (which seems like an eternity), but just that small statement immediately put me at ease. After looking, she said that she would be looking forward to seeing me when I just come back for a regular follow up. ME TOO! So, they both left and I broke down in that little room by myself. I just kept repeating, "Thank you Lord, thank you Lord."
1 Chron. 16:34 "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."
So, I told the news to Josh and we waited for my appointment with my oncologist, Dr. Litton. It was like I had been given drugs because I was just so, so happy. We waited for a long time, and finally got called back. Dr. Litton and my nurse, Angela, basically asked me a bunch of questions and reiterated that it will just take a long time for me to feel back to normal. Dr. Litton says that many people do not feel completely well for 2-3 years after treatment. So, that was encouraging to me. They complimented me on my diet and exercise and encouraged that, which was good. We were able to ask a lot of fertility questions, and she continued to be very stickler on waiting for 2 years from diagnosis. So, we will pray a lot about when we will try for a baby, but it looks like we will be able to move toward a family in October. So thankful.
Psalm 127: 3-5 "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."
Dr. Litton and Angela both stressed what October will mean for me. They say if, but I say when I make it to October, I will be out of the most scary time for my type of cancer. So, October will be huge, for my life and for my future family. Please pray that October will come soon and that the Lord will carry me until then, and always. I know He will.
I left from my visit with Dr. Litton a little sad. Everything was positive in the visit, but I just left discouraged. I think any time I am reminded of how scary this time until October can be, it can get me in an extreme funk. I was explaining this to Josh as we were waiting for an elevator at the hospital and he gave me hope in a way he reframed my situation (yes, he's learned some therapy techniques:)) The waterworks immediately came on as the elevator was opened with several other people, and I am trying to hold back heaves. Josh was very sensitive, but trying not to laugh as I was trying so hard to hold the tears back!
We had a great rest of the day on Monday. We met up for lunch at our favorite restaurant, Ruggles Green, with our amazing friends, the Summers. They opened their home to us while going through chemo, have taken us to lunch, taken care of us, prayed for us, had us on their family beach trip this summer, and been so very generous to us. We so enjoyed getting to see them and spend time with them, as usual. The rest of the day, we shopped and went to our favorite Houston places. We finished off a great day by watching the not-so-entertaining National Championship football game at the Stanfills.
On Tuesday, we had an appointment with my radiation oncologist, Dr. Strom, since he was the one who ordered the ultrasound. He was very pleased with my ultrasound and glad to see me doing so well. He said that he wanted me to have another ultrasound this summer, and then after that ultrasound, they would move me to just routine check-ups. Oh how I long for that day!!! I left this appointment uplifted and thankful that someone felt ok with not seeing me for a little while. Thank you Lord for these bits of hope!
We headed home after a trip to Whole Foods and I am trying to enjoy my last little bit of no school/work. I start back with everything on Monday. Please pray I can find balance as things become busier. I am making some progress on my dissertation, which is very encouraging to me. I am determined to not get back into a "rat race."
I also got to share a bit of my story on Wednesday night at church. Each year, they open up a Wednesday night for people to share what God has done for them in the past year. Last year, I made a video testimony because I was getting chemo and could not be at church, but this year I was here, and able to share just a few things that God did for me in 2012. Obviously 2012 was the hardest year of my life, but it was the year that God performed a miracle in me--- I was healed and made whole in 2012---so I praise God for 2012. Through all my struggles, God has remained sovereign and been such a good God to me. I have some other opportunities coming up, where I'll be able to share my story. I desire to be a trustworthy vessel and I pray God's story of my healing continues to be shared and draw hearts to Him.
So, next comes school, work and my surgery on February 1st. I don't have to go back to Houston until January 30th, since I have my pre-op appointments on the 31st. I am so excited about this surgery. To be in less pain, to look and feel more normal, and to have finality of my surgeries. I am so thankful.
Please continue to pray for me as I battle fear each day. Thank God for my healing and pray that His angels shield me from the devil's schemes. Each day is a struggle, but each day is a victory. I am reminded that each day is a blessing and God goes before me and goes behind me...He's got this... I just have to trust...each day, every moment, every second...
I will update as we get closer to surgery time:):):) Here is a pic of me and my sweet friend Irena at lunch on Sunday.