Friday, April 27, 2012


So I try to keep my blogs upbeat, but I have to be honest with you. It hasn't been that upbeat of a day.

I'm on Day 3 of my first treatment and things are starting to feel weird.

Things I've noticed so far:
1. I'm tired. I was tired before and I'm tired now. Not a whole lot of change, but between the surgery and the beginnning of chemo, I'm just wiped out.
2. My muscles ache. It just feels like all of my muscles are sore. And trust me, I did not work out. :-)
3. My stomach feels off. I haven't thrown up or gotten too sick yet, it just feels weird and my gag reflex is kind of out of control.
4. My taste buds are changing. Things don't exactly taste the way they used to. Kind of unnerving.

I was a tad overwhelmed this morning....maybe had a mini-break down. How much worse will I feel? I mean we're only on Day 3! Will I get sick? Will I be able to function at all? Can I really last through 6 MONTHS of this!?! Will I ever feel completely normal again?

But when I get in these overwhelmed places, I remember the One who brought me to this place. He didn't say my journey would be light or easy. He just promised to be there. His strength is made perfect in my weakness, and let me tell you I gave him some time to be strong today!

I'll lean on my Heavenly Father's arm and do just what my husband tells me to do each and every day. "Just take it one step at a time."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

And We're off!

These last two days were pretty big ones! We finally took some big steps in killing this nasty cancer and everything has gone really well!

I went in for surgery early Tuesday morning to get my port placed. This is a small device they place under your skin that gives them easy access to my veins. This way, I won't have to get stuck with IV every time I go in for chemo. They will simply access my port. Much easier!

The surgery went very well. I was a little nervous, but they only used the minimum amount of anesthesia and I woke up from it very quickly. I slept some that afternoon, but didn't get sick. Other than the fact that is was VERY sore, I did fine with it. Praise the Lord!

Yesterday we had an appointment with my oncologist and then started chemo afterwards.

The appointment went very well. We got a lot of questions answered and felt confident moving into treatment.

This is what we know so far.

1. I have Hodgkins Lymphoma
2. It is stage III but just barely. (The only thing that bumped it up to 3 instead of 2 is that I have 1 infected lymph node below my diaphragm.)
3. I will be taking the ABVD drugs for chemo as our primary treatment plan.
4. I will get treatment every other Wednesday for about 6 months. That is a total of 12 treatments.
5. He didn't see any tumors that he would consider bulky or big enough to treat with radiation. However, he will send us to a radiologist for a second opinion. (We are praying for NO radiation if possible because it has such high risks of causing other cancers)
6. He doesn't think it has spread to my bone marrow, but we will most likely do a bone marrow test once treatments are complete to be 100% sure.
7. After the 12th treatment, I wait 5 weeks and then get another PET scan and pray that it is CLEAN!!!

As for the chemo itself, there are quite a few possible side effects.
~I will probably lose my hair after about 2 weeks.
~I may experieince nausea, but they have given me quite a few drugs to prevent it.
~My nails may change texture and times. :-)
~ There is a change the drugs can negatively affect my heart and lungs, but the chances are low.
~There is a very low chance they can affect my fertility and cause other cancers such as leukemia.

The whole experience was actually not that bad. I literally sat in a chair and they pumped me full of medicine for about 2 1/2 hours. I was surrounded by other cancer patients going through the same thing and there were snacks and drinks that people donate that we could munch on. My mom and David were with me and we had a great time just talking and laughing and cracking cancer jokes. It was great! I did get very sleepy towards the end because they gave me benadryl to prevent an allergic reaction to one of the medicines.

Now we just wait and see what happens. I feel good today and hopefully that will continue!

I am so thankful that God has provided a way to treat this thing and given me such a wonderful support system to lean on. What a blessing!

It feels good to finally be doing something to get this disease out of me! The fight has begun and I WILL press on even when it gets hard!

1 treatment down and 11 more to go! I WILL beat this thing!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Here Comes the Dreamer

I knew I would need to write this post sometime soon. The work God did in my heart this morning gave me the perfect opportunity.

This morning, Pastor Scott preached about dreams. He told the story of Joseph and talked about how God's dreams for us are often times different than our own. However different though, they are always better and bigger than we can even imagine. We need to choose to trade our dreams for God's dreams.

Let me tell you about my dream.

Ever since I can remember, the only thing I really wanted to be in life was a wife and a mother. I have always had an intense love for children and babies. I wanted my life to revolve around them. That is why I chose to become a teacher.

My single years post college felt like the longest of my life because all I did was dream about the day I could be a wife and a mother. I was so excited when I got married and couldn't wait to enter into motherhood. David and I will have been married for two years this coming July. This January, we had come to the conclusion that it was time to start a family.

My dreams were finally coming true! It was so close I could taste it! I am married to an amazing man of God, we own a beautiful home, we have an incredible circle of friends and church family, and we were going to start a family. My dreams were coming true. I could just see it all falling into place.


When we got the diagnosis I think I was honestly more upset about the crashing of my baby dreams than I was about the whole life-threatening illness thing.

Obviously cancer has thrown a pretty large wrench into our baby plans.

We don't know how long it will take to cure this thing, and after that, there will be a time of waiting to see if my fertility is affected by the chemo. Then you need to wait for a while to make sure that the cancer doesn't come back. Long story short, it could be years before we are able to conceive, if we are still able at all to conceive post-chemo.

The good news is that the drugs I will be taking, ABVD, have an extremely lower risk of causing infertility than other chemo drugs. The possibility is still there, but the chances are pretty favorable.

At times I get completely overwhelmed by emotion relating to the baby dream. Why now? Why this? My dreams were so close to coming true! It's completely unfair!

But then I am reminded of God's promises. I was reminded today that "God's ways are higher than my ways." God's dreams are far bigger than my own. Again I find myself in that place where I truly must surrender control to my creator, my savior, my healer, my Daddy.

My purpose in this life is not to be a mommy. My purpose is to glorify God. However He sees best to do that is up to Him, not me.

My prayer is still that being a Mom is part of God's dream for me. But if God follows the pattern we see in His word, it will be far greater than anything I can dream up on my own!

So I said to the Lord this morning:

"I'll trade it in. God I'm giving you my baby dreams. I'll exchange it for Your plan."

At this point I can honestly say that I'm all in. It's time to start playing out God's dream.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cleaning House

So things have been obviously crazy in the Vogel home recently. We traveled to Pittsburgh and then got out of town for a few days to relax and regroup.

We tried to forget about cancer for a little while and just focus on each other, but it definitely crept in my mind quite a bit. It was nice to have time to decompress and be honest about what we were feeling. We've pretty much gone through all the emotions you can and are back in Knoxville, ready to fight...well almost ready.

I am scheduled to get my port put in next Tuesday and then start chemo on Wednesday.

I still have a lot of questions that I'm praying get answered in the next few days.

Despite that, I have this strange desire to clean my entire home. We're not just talking vacuuming and wiping down counters. I mean DEEP cleaning. I feel like it has to be done before chemo starts for some reason.

I'm literally dreaming about cleaning out cupboards and organizing closets.

This may not seem strange to many of you, but for those that know me pretty well, you know this is a bit out of character!

Now don't get me wrong, I love it when things are organized and I am by no means a slob, but messes really don't bother me, and organization is not something I come by naturally. I always have the best of intentions, but am usually unsuccessful.

It will be interesting to see how much I actually get done in the next 5 days. :-)

I want to end this post by giving a big shout out to everyone who has messaged, e-mailed, texted, called, etc. I feel truly blessed and humbled by the amount of love and support that has been shown to me over the past two weeks. I truly cherish each and every message and appreciate so much your thoughts and prayers. God is so good, and I can already see him moving in this situation!

I am so thankful for a supportive and loving family (both my side and my David's) who have been walking through all of this with us.

If you have written me and I haven't responded to you directly, please forgive me. I am working hard to try and respond to all the communication the best that I can.

Prayers for healing and to protect my fertility through treatment are greatly appreciated from any circle! I am convinced that prayer, not doctors or medicine, is the strongest weapon I have in this fight. The more prayer the better!

Oh and throw up some prayers for my sweet husband. He has been the biggest blessing of all to me through this. His strength and encouragement have amazed me.

What an incredible God I serve. Even in the midst of trouble, I have never felt more blessed!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Final Word

Well I have quite a bit to share on the blog today.

First a quick update on my journey with cancer. I had my first appointment with my oncologist yesterday. It went well even though we had to wait a long time to see him. He is confident that we can beat this thing. We got some questions answered, but still do not have a stage because that is dependent on the results of a pet scan that I had done yesterday afternoon. We know that chemo will be the course of action. Next week I will get a port placed in my chest so I can easily receive the medicine. It's becoming more and more real, but God is giving me peace along the way.

My heart is broken right now because of cancer. Not only because of my own battle, but because cancer has taken the lives of two wonderful people in the last 24 hours.

It is with a heavy heart that I tell you that our good friend at NorthStar, Don Walker, passed away from complications from lung cancer. Don was a true servant and never doubted the Lord's hand in his life. He will be truly missed.

David's grandfather, David W. Vogel, also passed away this morning. He had stomach cancer. What a bittersweet moment for my dear family. Pappa loved the Lord with his whole heart. Not only was he funny and kind, but he was a true leader who provided for his family. His love for the Lord and willingness to sacrifice everything for the kingdom created a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. He was a pastor and teacher and touched so many lives with the love of Christ. It is because of him that David and his father are the true men of God they are today.  I consider myself truly blessed to have known him and have spent the little time I had with him. We can mourn the loss of his presence in our lives, but we can also rejoice because he is with his Father now! The Lord has given him the ultimate healing and brought him into His presence. I know that nothing more could be said to him than "well done good and faithful servant." He is an example to us all.

As I think about these men of faith and the battle they fought, I can't help but feel the gravity of this journey I'm on. I will fight for my life in the next few months and I am confident that God will be by my side. Whatever we face in life, we must run forward in faith and trust that our heavenly Father truly cares for us. 

I am tempted to question why Pappa had to leave us, why Don had to leave us, and why I have to fight this cancer fight. But I am reminded of the wise words that Pappa spoke just a few days ago. "The Lord has the final word." Because I know that God is good and he cares for us, I can trust in those words. The Lord does have the final word, and I am more than ok with that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Cancer Word

Cancer… Unfortunately, this word has ambushed the Vogel home in the last week.
For those of you that don’t know, I have been struggling some with my health for the past several months. There were quite a few strange symptoms that couldn’t be explained. I went to the doctor in early February and a chest x-ray showed that my heart was enlarged. After a visit to the cardiologist and much testing, it was determined that I had some fluid around my heart that was most likely the result of a virus and would go away.
This was not the case. At a follow-up appointment two weeks ago,  I was told I was on the upswing and would be getting better soon. On my way out the door, I pointed out a lump that had developed on my neck. I was told it was probably a swollen lymph node, nothing really to worry about, but we would get a sonogram to be sure.
A sonogram led to a CT scan where many other lymph node tumors were found and I was given the preliminary diagnosis of lymphoma….cancer…
Many tears and a needle biopsy later, and I had a firm diagnosis of Hodgkins Lymphoma.
Cancer…wow. I never in a million years would have guessed that at 27 years old, I would be facing cancer.
Meanwhile, David’s Grandfather went to the doctor for a stomach ache and found out he had stage IV stomach cancer and was in the hospital for 3 weeks. We had the blessing of traveling to Pittsburgh to spend time with him. He has now been moved to a Palliative Care facility… Cancer
I can’t begin to express to you all of the emotions that I have felt in the last week and a half. Needless to say, this word is a game changer.
With this word comes many emotions.
I wish I could say that I have gracefully handled both of these diagnoses, but I haven’t. There have been tough days and there are many more to come I’m sure.
However, I choose to trade in the words above for both David’s Papa and myself. Right now I am choosing to reject the cancer word. I choose to reject everything that comes along with it and hold onto the truth.
This is what I know:
1.     God is good and he is still on the throne. He is still worthy to be praised.
2.     God is faithful and will ALWAYS keep his promises.
3.     God loves me and cares about my dreams and my desire to beat this thing and be a mother someday.
4.     This cancer word is not a punishment. I did not do anything to deserve this or cause this.
5.     God can take anything and use it for good.
6.     My God is bigger than science and doctors and has authority over all things.

I have become completely aware of the fact that my life is an instrument of God. I surrendered myself to him a long time ago. My body, my life, my plans, my dreams have all been laid before his throne. If cancer is the song I have to play in order to advance the kingdom, then so be it. If I can touch one life, draw one person closer to the Lord, cause any good in my family or friend’s lives then it is all worth it in the end.
Am I scared? Yes
Am I disappointed? Yes
Am I mad? Yes
Am I mad at God? No. Honestly No. Who am I to question the works of His hands?
Am I going to beat this? Yes
Lord willing, I will fight until this cancer word leaves my life. I will fight for my life and I will win.  I am stepping out on faith that God will heal me, and he never disappoints. He has authority over all things and I want nothing more than for Him to receive glory though my fight.
The cancer word will not defeat me. It will not define me. I am a child of God and my faith is in the Lord.

This blog will now document my journey and I will update as much as I can. I pray that God's Glory will be evident though my story.