Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wrapping up cycle 3, small miracles, and plans (LONG)

In just three days I'll receive chemo cycle 4 and will be halfway through my chemo treatments. So far, I feel really good. I feel strong and fortunate to have had very minimal side effects and those I have had have been manageable, especially with the support and assistance from family and friends to which I'll be eternally grateful. The hardest part for me in cycle 3 has been the fatigue. It really hit me like a brick wall, and early on in the cycle too. Everything I did exhausted me - even walking down the stairs in the house. But I refused to let it change my life and keep me from being the mom and wife I need and want to be. I pushed forward and through it. Sure, I cried - a lot even. I called and texted Bob while he was away and whined and cried about how tired I was and how hard it is at night when I'm alone and just need decent sleep but can't count on getting it because Cooper doesn't consistently sleep through the night. I prayed and prayed for strength to push through the fatigue and for more opportunities to get the sleep I needed. And as soon as Bob got home from his trip and took over with Cooper things immediately got better and I got the sleep I needed and felt so much better. Cooper is sleeping better - still getting up 1-2x per night but mostly just once unless he's teething (which he is again right now ;/). Last Sunday was a test day for me though. I was determined to get Cooper to church with me since I'm trying to find a church home here and I need to visit a few before I decide where we will go each week. I had a plan and was excited to visit a church I had researched and got Cooper and me dressed and ready to go. I buckled Cooper into his car seat and I got in and went to start the car and it was completely dead. No lights came on at all. My car is only 3 years old with less than 40k miles on it and had JUST been serviced. I got out, took Cooper out of his seat and he started to have a tantrum because he LOVES to get out and about - he has much better days when he spends half of the day out of the house and he's easier for me to handle that way too since I can put him in his car seat and then the stroller and know I don't have to chase him around, especially now that he's walking. So we came back in the house, called roadside assistance and waited for the tow truck to arrive for a jump start. I turned on the TV and there was Joel Osteen, a preacher I know of but whom I haven't followed - nor have I ever sat and watched worship services on television...until that day. I watched the last half of the service on the television and was amazed to realize that I was hearing the EXACT message I needed to hear that day. I knew at that moment that my car was MEANT to be dead that morning so that I would hear what I needed to hear. I am amazed by these small miracles I experience every day - that probably happened pre-diagnosis but I just wasn't paying attention. I am now. The truck arrived and they got my car started and I was instructed to drive it or let it sit running for 30 minutes minimum. By then it was Cooper's nap time so I decided to put him in the car seat and start driving around to see if I could find a couple of the churches I wanted to visit. We were too late for the service but I could at least get prepared by knowing their locations and what the parking situation is like. After all, I needed to drive for at least 30 minutes, but with Cooper napping it had to be more like an hour or longer - so I drove and drove all over town. That's when a second miracle presented itself. I got lost in a section of town I wasn't familiar with and as I was turning a corner I spotted a sign with the name of a church I had visited with my friend, Kristy, the week prior. I had hoped there was a sister church in my area (the one close to Kristy is nearly an hour drive for us) but I couldn't find any info about it online and had planned to call the church in her area to ask about it but hadn't gotten around to it. But there it was! A branch of their church right here in town - just 3 miles from home and I found it "accidentally" -- well, I don't believe it was an accident at all. I noted the service times and decided that's where we'll be going this week - so tomorrow morning that's where we'll be. The week after we'll visit another church, and then yet another the week after that before making my decision as to where our new church home will be. So...as I say farewell to chemo cycle #3, my prayers have turned to focus on two treatment related requests: first, that cycle 4 is as manageable as the previous 3, and second, that the new chemo drugs that I'll be receiving for cycles 5-8 will also be tolerable and successful. The new drugs are known to be much harder to take, with more side effects than the drugs I've had thus far. I'm determined to leverage my strength, my faith and my support network to get through it, no matter what it may bring. I want and NEED it to work - my God-given, liquid gold, cure juice. Before I switch over to the new chemo drugs, we're going to make a trip back east to visit with family. Since we don't know how the new chemo will affect me and I'll be on it til just before Christmas (then comes surgery then daily radiation for 7 weeks), this is really my only chance to get Cooper back there before the height of flu season occurs. He and I both are highly susceptible to things like that so we want to get out there now and introduce him to my extended family members and FINALLY give the poor kid his first birthday party which he never had since his birthday was immediately following my double-mastectomy surgery so we postponed the party we had planned for him. It will be wonderful to see family that I haven't seen for many years...and for them to meet the loves of my life - Bob and Cooper. It'll probably be a hard trip for me since I have to get out there on my own with Cooper while Bob is working, but he'll meet us there and travel home with us which will be good. I'm nervous about traveling but excited too. I know that once I get there I'll have a ton of help with Cooper so I'll be able to get the rest that I need, day and night. Just a couple days after we get back from the trip I will start the new chemo regimen which will either be Carboplatin + Gemzar, or Cisplatin + Gemzar. I'm waiting on the guru (Dr.Glaspy) to get back to me with what he feels is my best shot. I am thanking God every day and night for the countless blessings He bestows on me. My faith has not been consistent in years past but it's always been there and now it is among the most critical components of my cure equation. He got me through so many incredibly challenging times of my life and this is another time I know and trust that He will carry me through. He's already given me the most amazing support network of family, friends, colleagues, doctors, nurses and medicines for my fight...I just know and trust He will finish the job and cure me. My friend, Cindy, gave me a Bible verse to keep with me and it is posted by my bedside and helps me every day. Thank you, Cindy! It says... "I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you." Isaiah 41:13 I wouldn't be human if I wasn't afraid - sometimes I am absolutely terrified. But I have faith, hope and determination that I will be OK, no matter what. He will make sure of it. Love, Julie

8 comments:

  1. I'm glad you were able to find that church. God does work in mysterious ways. I hope it is a good experience for you tomorrow and that perhaps it will become a good church home for you. Not that its truly any of my business, as it is a personal choice, but what religion(s) are you mainly looking into? You don't have to answer if you aren't comfortable. I do pray that in the next few weeks you are able to find a church where you feel you are really meant to be and with members who will be there to support you through your journey.

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  2. Well done, Julie, being positive and open to the everday miracles in life. It's thining like this that make me confident you (with God's help) are stacking the odds in your favor to overcome this challenge. We had a similar search in town when we arrived, and found we liked Christ Lutheran Church (near CalArts) very much. Not sure if you've tried them out yet. It just seemed more 'real' to us than some others in town. Again, personal comfort level rules all in this one! Only you know where God is leading you!
    Lots of love, Denise

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  3. Julie, your post brought tears of joy and thankfulness to my eyes when I read it. When we stop to realize what miracles we are given every day, it makes our lives so much better and happier. When we are open to these miracles, we can realize them and praise God for them. I have not been very good about this myself over the past four or five months especially while dealing with secondary infertility and knowing I'd be again returning to work in September. A couple of weeks ago, I acknowledged I was so uptight about everything, I was missing out on joy of the incredible blessings I have been given already. I've been making a much more concerted effort to revel in the present and look forward to the future knowing God is in control and I need to let go some and remember that no matter what happens, God is with me and loves me. There are no "mistakes" and the universe is not chaos and spinning around pointlessly. There is hope; there is love; there is life because of what Christ did by dying on the cross for our sins and the entire world's sins. I am praying for the specific prayer requests you mentioned, Julie, and I am also praying that you find a supportive, Christ-centered place of worship. Keep us posted on this; I searched for a church about four or five years ago and found it to be an affirming endeavor. It helped me to better focus on what I was looking for and believed. It helped me to grow as a Christian. I am praying you find the same to be true for you. Sending love from Central NYS to you!

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  4. Hi Julie - big post, made me think of a lot of things. But the first thing I thought while I was reading it was 'good for you that you are telling Bob how you feel'. I tend to try to keep things going smoothly while Brad is not around, and I don't tell him how hard it is sometimes. I think its great that you do tell Bob, so he can jump in and help when he does get back. With Cooper being so young, you really need that.

    And the car thing... I never could drive for 6 or 7 days after each chemo treatment, so my car would sit. And sure enough, it was dead once or twice. I don't remember getting anything 'good' out of that, but glad you are finding a sliver lining!!

    Good luck with the next set of chemo, awesome that you are (almost) halfway already!

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  5. As with others, I am in tears here!!! you are such an amazing person and i am so blessed that we are back in touch!!!! when are you heading to CT? I am going for a wedding on halloween......but would love to come out when you all are there!!!!!!!!!!! i will email you!
    Kat

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  6. This was an awesome testament of faith, Julie. Thank you so much for sharing these miracles with us. I hope you have a wonderful trip and enjoy seeing your family. I also hope that your future chemo treatments will be as smooth and successful as your first three (sans the recent exhaustion). Take care of yourself and rest assured, He WILL carry you through this, like you said. May your church-quest be fruitful! :*)

    Big hugs,

    Carrie & Drake from iV

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  7. Julie, You show great strength and faith which seems important in the battle you are going through. I wish you the best of luck in cycle 4 of your treatment. I'd like to share a heart-felt video called “Stand Up To Cancer”— http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9avVoQB2_rQ> . This video highlights the importance of managing your cancer treatment and avoiding infection. Please watch and share with all your loved ones.

    Best of wishes,

    Katie

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  8. Yay for faith! Lol And I have a little extra if you're ever feeling short... I'm always inspired by your ability to find silver linings, it makes me reflect, looking for similar mini-miracles in my own life. I hope this church works out. I need to get my butt over to ours more, it's just SO FAR AWAY... Darn Mormom-Dominant state, I have to drive 45 min to get to the ONLY church of my kind in the valley (Episcopal, for what that's worth).
    Also, I'd LOVE to know when you do Pooper's bday parTAY, cuz we want to send something. OH and we have LOTS of leis and other tropical stuff from Tayden's party if you want anything. :)
    P.S. just wait til you see what I have up my sleeve next.... ;)

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