April 11, 2008

My mom and I left for my 11th chemo treatment on Sunday April 6. I was originally scheduled on April 1 and 2 but I was delayed a week due to my blood counts being a little lower than where they would have liked. The weather has been beautiful which makes the trip so much nicer. This time out to CTCA, I was scheduled to see both my doctor's assistant and also my doctor so that we could talk about what the next steps would be for my treatment. I was told that although my blood counts drop, they do recover on their own and all of my other blood work looks really good. I will have my 12th and final (yeah!) chemo treatment on April 22, and then I will be scheduled for my next set of scans in May. The doctor is going to look back over my most recent biopsy taken from September 2007 to confirm again that this cancer had the same characteristics as when I was first diagnosed in 2005. I am pretty sure that I was told that it was in fact the same. Anyhow, if it is, that means that this cancer was still positive for estrogen and progesterone, and there would be a good chance of having my ovaries removed to stop most of those hormones from being produced. This would hopefully lessen my chances of having another recurrence. I should know more about that at my next visit.

So, I suppose you're wondering about the picture at the top of this page. Well, during my 10th cycle of chemotherapy, I met a woman at CTCA who was in her early 30s with breast cancer and she was also there with her mom. She was wearing a wig that looked similar to one that Rainbow Brite wore. It made us laugh, and we got to talking, and she said she would get me a fun wig too. Because I was delayed a week in returning, I missed her during her next trip. She left this wig for me at the nurses' station in the infusion center, and the nurses gave it to me as soon as I arrived to start my chemo. That wig definitely made my mom and I laugh, and we had fun seeing other people's reactions as they walked past me as I received my treatment. I am careful not to put people's names in my entries in order to respect their privacy. But I can safely say, thank you Rainbow Brite for giving us a good laugh during our trip!

I usually receive acupuncture while I receive my first day of chemotherapy. The acupuncture room is not very big, but there are three cots lined up parallel to each other. There is a curtain dividing each bed, so you cannot see any one else. The beds have a pillow for your head and also under your feet. Since I go during my chemo, I just unplug my IV pole and wheel it into the room with me. One cot is just in front of the window that overlooks the front parking lot. That is the bed I get every time. The doctor that does the acupuncture jokes with me that my window seat is waiting for me. Because of scheduling, I could not get acupuncture until my second day of treatment. I did not sleep very well at all the night before. I woke up and just felt God talking to me about lots of different things. In the beginning of all of this, I struggled so much with the idea of never being able to get pregnant and have my own child. That is all that I wanted when I was little. I wanted to be like my mom. Before Mike and I got married, we talked about if we wanted kids or not. Neither one of us were in any hurry. I remember Mike mentioning that he wouldn't mind adopting one day. In the spring of 2005, I thought I was pregnant. I went to the doctor twice and had a blood test done. Everything kept coming back negative, and I remember telling my doctor that something wasn't right then. Three months later is when I found that first lump in my breast. When I found out that my cancer was hormone positive, I wondered if what happened to me that spring was just a shift in my hormones. The only time I have cried in the doctor's office during this second diagnosis was when I was told I should not have children after the amount of chemotherapy that I have had. My mom and I were talking to my doctor's assistant at CTCA months ago when this came up. I will never forget that she got up out of her doctor's chair and came and sat right next to me and just hugged me. When I woke up during the night Monday, I really felt God talking to me about this. He told me that although I would not have a child born from my body, I would have one born from my heart. I felt Him say that if I was patient and waited for my 5 year cancer free date, that a year later, there may be a child for us. I would be 33, Mike would be 35. When I went back for my acupuncture, I was the only one in the room. Shortly after, I heard a man come into the room and he was on the cot next to me. I think this was my eighth time in that room, but I have never had another patient talk to me. I was trying to relax, and maybe take a nap for the 40 minutes that I would be back there. Then I heard "Hi neighbor" spoken softly through the curtain. I said hello back and he just said "I wanted to tell you not to give up.. keep going. The most important thing from here is your relationship with Jesus." I told him I agreed, and then he said "You know, this is my second time fighting cancer and my doctor at home only gave me a week. I really look at my whole situation like a storm..." Now this made me perk up. A storm? That was what I always said. "Me too!" I said. He told me that he thought of it like a hurricane. The high winds that cause so much damage... but right in the middle of that hurricane is the eye. The eye is Jesus. The calm in the middle of it all. I thought this was a neat new way to look at things. He went on to talk about Peter when he got out of the boat to walk on the water towards Jesus. Peter was fine while his eyes were focused on Jesus, but when he looked away is when he got into trouble. I told this man that I had written about that very thing in one of my entries. He went on to tell me that he is 71 years old, and is now cancer free. I shared my testimony about how God healed me. He talked about what Heaven would be like, and what the wedding feast would be like. He said that he thought that since Jesus died when he was 33, right in the prime of life, that is the age we would be in Heaven. He didn't know for sure, but he was just speculating. I told him that Jeff was only 33 when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I realized that anytime I dream of him or think of him, in my head he looks like he did when he was 33. I told this man that I was only 27, and he told me I needed to look forward to 33... some of my best years were ahead. I thought back to the night before. Maybe that was confirmation to me that somehow after I am 5 years out from this, I will be able to move forward with my life. Maybe Mike and I would start our family when I am 33.. something to look forward to. When my acupuncture treatment was over... I whispered to him.. "It was nice talking to you." He told me that when I get to Heaven, he's going to look for me and say "Remember that day we talked through the curtain at CTCA?"

I walked out of that room really thankful for that conversation. I don't have any idea what this man looked like, what color he was, what size... all I know is what was in his heart. That is all that matters. That is the way God sees us. God puts people and situations in our lives to show us His love for us. I have seen God working in my life through all of this, and I will never be the same again. He continues to give me promises of hope and a future. I thought more about the whole hurricane and eye of the storm analogy. I think it is very fitting to realize that Jesus is the center of our lives, even when life seems to be overwhelming at times. But it is also fitting to realize that not only should I stay focused on Him, but also that His eye is watching over me too.

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