Friday, November 30, 2012

A Way Through

 I am so sorry it has taken this long for me to post! I have been trying to process everything and figure out the easiest way to communicate a LOT of information!

Well, our trip to Nashville was a very successful one! We met with the director of stem cell transplants at Vanderbilt and God really showed up in a big way!

I was in a pretty low place. I knew that I needed to trust God, but thoughts of my future brought so much pain with them because we didn't know what would happen.

The truth is, my circumstances have not really changed. My diagnosis is the same, I still have some rough treatments ahead of me, and my body is about to go through some hard things.

I had been praying so desperately for complete healing and a way out. However, I believe now that God is giving me a way through, and I am still believing He will grant me complete healing.

Every single fear I had about my upcoming treatments was mitigated on Monday. Literally every thing that caused me stress was addressed.

Let me explain it the best way I can.

Basically I have what is called refractory Hodgkins disease (Disease that resisted treatment).

My cancer cells were smart and figured out a way to literally "spit" the chemo back out and survive. I hate them...

We have to go through treatments to try and kill the remaining cancer cells. Then we will do a stem cell transplant in order to completely restart my immune system and hopefully cure me for good.

I thought I would have to go through intense chemo for the first part. this would mean losing my hair again and being very sick.


Because Vanderbilt is a research hospital, they have knowledge of newer drugs. There is a drug called Bruntuximab (or something close to this) that has been approved in the last two years to treat refractory Hodgkins.
It is what the doctor called a "smart drug." It will literally attack only the cancer cells and create a barrier around them so they can't "spit" it out. I will undergo 3 treatments of this drug in hopes of getting a clean PET scan. This will be done outpatient and there are minimal side effects! No nausea, no hair loss, no fatigue, NOTHING! He said I may get tingling and numbness in my fingers, but hey I'll take that any day!

If I get a clean PET scan, then we move on to the stem cell transplant.

I was very nervous about this procedure. Everything I had read said that I would be in isolation for a month and I would be homebound for a long time after that. I thought I'd have to take time off from preschool and miss a ton of time from my job while recovering. NOT TRUE!

Vanderbilt has pretty much mastered the art of autologous stem cell transplants enough for us to be able to do all of the procedures OUTPATIENT!!! I will stay in Nashville, and will come to the clinic everyday, but as long as I don't get an infection, I shouldn't need to be admitted to the hospital. This will be a tough procedure. I will still get an extremely high dose of chemo before the transplant (yes I will lose my hair at this point), but it will not be nearly as bad as we thought.

After the transplant, he said I'd need to be cautious with germs, but he didn't want me to take time off of my job or working with children. PRAISE THE LORD!

If any of these treatments don't work, he said "don't lose your heart" we have other options.

He also said that we could take a few weeks before we started treatment to look at options for fertility preservation. I am so thankful for this opportunity!

I will most likely start treatments with the new drug in January and if everything goes according to plan, will be finished with the whole process in June 2013. This means we get to enjoy Christmas!

God is good! Continue to pray that He will order our steps and lead us to the right places in order to kill this cancer AND have a family.

I am so thankful that God stepped in and provided us with hope and a way through the wilderness. We truly feel like He has ordered our steps and are asking Him to continue to do so!

He truly does care for us and works EVERYTHING together for the good of those who love him!

Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support! They mean the world to us!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Always Thankful

Well, to say the past two weeks have been hard would be an understatement. Never in my life have I spent this much time crying or praising. Never have I cried out this desperately to God.

I've told several people that it feels like I've been in mourning since last Thursday. I've been mourning my hopes and dreams. I've been mourning the life that David and I could have had if cancer hadn't reared its ugly head.

HOWEVER, we don't know what the future holds, but we do know one thing.

God is our provider.

He always provides for us. I am praying that He will still provide us with a way of escape from this disease, even a way out of these terrible treatments.

And I know another thing...

I'm tired of mourning. I'm tired of crying. I'm tired of being afraid.

In one way or another, God will rescue me.

Today is Thanksgiving and I choose joy. I choose to be thankful because the truth is, I have SO MUCH to be thankful for.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

~ Philippians 4: 6-7

We are to rejoice ALWAYS in the Lord! We present our requests with THANKSGIVING! It doesn't matter how hard things are, I choose to rejoice and be thankful. God will take care of the rest.

This year I am thankful for...

~The nearness of God and His incredible gift of salvation.
~My amazing husband. What an incredible gift you are.
~My wonderful family and extended family.
~Our second family at Northstar. I couldn't ask for better community.
~My friends both near and far.
~My fellow preschool director who has walked every step of this journey with me.
~The leadership at our church and spiritual guidance from so many in my life.
~The Lord's provision for our physical needs.
~The mountains of East Tennessee and our beautiful home.
~The best next door neightbors around.
~My jobs. I truly love what I do.

God really has been good to me. I could go on and on. I am truly thankful!

I hope everyone out there has a wonderful Thanksgiving! Take time to rejoice and be thankful today!

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Down but Not Out

I'm not going to go into too much detail on this post because there is still a lot we don't know.

Unfortunately, my biopsy results came back as Hodgkins. This means the ABVD chemo did not completely work. It killed most of the tumors and shrunk them down considerably, but somehow there is still disease left over.

This outcome is not what we had hoped for and not what we were expecting.

We are headed to Vanderbilt on the Monday after Thanksgiving for a second opinion. Most likely we are looking at some intense chemo and a stem cell transplant, but we don't know for sure.

We are fervently praying that God would give the doctors wisdom and complete the healing He already started. We are also praying that by some miracle we will be able to have children some day. Nothing is impossible.

The past few days have been pretty intense. We are heart-broken and disappointed. We feel helpless and out of control. We are down, but not out.

I am trying desperately to hold onto this passage of scripture.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

It would be easy to believe at this point that God is not good. That He does not want good things for me or a future. But this is not true.

No, we don't understand. Yes, we are scared. No, we don't know what the future holds. Yes, our dreams have come crashing down.

But God is still good.

He still wants good things for me.

He still has a future planned for me.

He could still rescue me.

He can still heal me.

Our circumstances do not change the truth of God's word.

God is for us, not against us.

We are down.......but we are definitely not out.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Plea for Prayer

Well... I had hoped that this post would contain very different news.

I would love to tell you that my PET scan was clean and I'm in remission, but unfortuantely it was not.

The scan showed some active tumors in my neck and chest.

There is a possibility that these active spots are simply granulomas or inflammation left over from the chemo.

If this is the case, then we will simply wait longer and they will dissipate on their own.

There is a possibility that these active spots are leftover Hodgkins Disease making the treatments I've undergone for the past 6 months not completely effective.

If this is the case, then we are facing some pretty intense, life-altering treatments including a different type of chemo and a stem cell transplant.

Before any action is taken, I will undergo a biopsy on Monday to determine what the spots are. I will receive the answer Thursday at a doctor's appointment.

This news was not expected and has caused us to cling tighter to our God. My head has been spinning, but through much prayer, time with family, and encouraging words from others, I feel there is a third possibility.

God is capable of raising people from the dead, walking on water, and healing disease. He is capable of making blind men see and lame men walk. All it takes is faith.

I stand in faith and believe that God can heal me. God can take away these "active spots" whatever they are before I go to the biopsy on Monday. It is my prayer that they will do the sonogram to find the spots to biopsy and they will be completely gone! He has confirmed to me over and over again that He will never leave me or forsake me. He will rescue me and heal me. And while I don't know what his perfect plan for my life is, I know that prayer is important.

I realize that God may choose not to do this. His ways are higher than mine. However, he says in His word to "seek and we will find. Knock and the door will be open." In the parable of the persistent widow, God says, "will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night?"

I am asking you to cry out day and night on my behalf. When the woman reached out and touched Jesus robe, he told her "daughter your faith has healed you."  Please stand with me in faith that God can heal me.

Please take the next few days to persistently pray for my healing. Pray that my faith may increase. Pray that these spots would be gone on Monday. Pray that only He will get the glory for my life. Pray that God would hear our cries and grant me mercy and a life of ministry and family with my husband.

I believe that there is power in the prayers of the saints. Trust the Lord with me to heal my body completely in the name of Jesus so that only He can get credit.

Please share this post with as many people as you can and begin praying....

God is good all the time and He is still on the throne no matter what the outcome. I thank you in advance for being persistent with me.