Sunday, February 27, 2011


"For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content." Philippians 4:11

Four treatments unknown amount to go. God is sure showing this OCD planning chick that she must rest in Him. Hopefully I have reached the half way point, but we will not know until next week after another PET scan and doctor's visit.
This past treatment has been rough so far. My nurse told me that the effects are sometimes cumulative and so it might get worse with more treatments. Here is how the effects usually work. I get treated on Fridays. It takes about 6 hours and I leave feeling very "plump" and full of drugs. That usually leaves me in a woozy state and I sleep very hard that Friday night. Saturday is typically not so bad. I am usually a little tired but not so bad. However, this Saturday the nausea hit and stayed most of the day. Sunday is my sleeping day. I told Mom as I crawled back into bed this morning, "I'm really good at this sleeping thing." My body feels like it weighs a million pounds and Mom chases me around with liquids to try to hydrate me. To be quite honest, I do not really give her a good chase. When your legs feel like lead there is no escape. Tomorrow is when my mouth will begin to hurt. The cells in your mouth are rapidly dividing and therefore are subject to the effects of the drugs. This aching lasts for about 2 days but makes it hard to get liquids down. However, as each day progresses I get back more and more strength. Other weird effects such as hot flashes and gum soreness and, of course, hair loss. This is all an interesting process of learning how my body works and how drugs can affect it.
One interesting effect has been termed "chemo brain." Basically, it makes me feel stupid. I am not exactly sure how this thing works. Short term memory seems to be affected the most. Jon has now taken to following me around with a notepad so that if I say that I need to do something, he writes it down so I will not forget. It is the most frustrating thing! Thinking seems so much harder and there are times when I will be speaking and forget what I am saying. We laugh at it most days because it is so funny to think about, but it is a very real battle. Cancer and treatment are a humbling process. I call the chemo brain battle "the battle not to feel stupid."
God is teaching me so many things during this time. Contentment is one lesson.
It is very hard for me to be still. I like being busy and I like being able to accomplish many things all in one day if not all at one time. With treatment, that goal is ten times harder and often impossible. The Lord is teaching me to be content despite the effects of chemo and despite my unfulfilled "to do" lists. My prayer is that God would cause me to be content in whatever state I am. Contentment and patience are not apathy and indifference. It is easy to become the latter two when you are going through a time in which you cannot control so many aspects of your life. However, contentment and patience are worth fighting for. They are an acknowledged dependence and an active resting in the Lord. We all are dependent upon the Lord; many times we just fail to live consciously dependent. Contentment and patience are a battle; apathy and indifference are simply resign. Contentment and patience are worship; apathy and indifference are not.
I had never dreamed that I would spend my twenty second birthday wearing a scarf around my head and feeling like a cancer patient for the first time (my hair is thinning quite a bit now). I had never dreamed that I would not be at my university that day (I did however spend it with my amazing sister Janie at her university and it was the best birthday ever!). I had never dreamed that I would be preparing for treatment on the following day... And never in a million years would I have thought that Jon and I would be talking through tears about how wonderful our faithful God is and how far He has miraculously brought us in two months.
I am learning contentment; and I am rejoicing.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

As Long as You are Glorified

So last week I received a CD in the mail. It says that I ordered it. However, I have no recollection of ordering this music. Now it could have been ordered by me while I was taking some kind of medication, but looking at the date that it was ordered, I do not think that was a possibility. Perhaps, it was some kind, anonymous soul who thought that I would need the message of this music. Thank you, whomever! I did need it!
I thought I would share one song because it has been echoing in my mind since I first played it. Click on the title below and enjoy the video with the song and its lyrics. Hope this can not only be my theme song but yours as well.

As Long as You are Glorified

Friday, February 11, 2011

Third Chemo Treatment

Hi, everyone! I am sitting in my third treatment and thought I would blog a bit. So many people have asked me what the actual chemo process is like, so I thought that I would share. Hope this is informative!
My every-other Friday date begins by arriving at the cancer center with a load full of stuff; it really looks like we are moving in with the amount of stuff we have. However, we assure the nurses that despite the huge bags we are bringing with us, we will not be staying. This time I reserved a private room for treatment. In the group room you are permitted only one guest. Yet, Janie and Sarah, my cousin who is a P.A. in Atlanta (I have been proudly showing her off and telling everyone that she is a P.A. so I thought I would tell you), wanted to hang out with me on this chemo day and my nurse was happy to accommodate. So we arrived and another nurse took my vital signs. Meanwhile, Janie started to turn on some rap music to really get this party started up in here.
Here at the treatment offices every patient is assigned a nurse that will be with you every day of your treatment. My nurse is a wonderful, bubbly lady named Trish. When I say wonderful I mean that she is absolutely amazing and makes me smile every time I come in. She begins my bloodwork to see how my levels are and if I can accept treatment. After the labs come back she starts my IV and brings in my "goody bag", three drugs that combat nausea. After those settle in, the chemo begins.
For my type of cancer, there is a standard treatment ABVD. It is four drugs that are put into my IV line one after the other. Therefore it is just sitting and waiting for them to drip in. Some are what they call a "push" where my nurse puts a syringe full of the drug in my IV line over a certain amount of time. This allows for great talk time with my awesome nurse! One of the drugs is red and is known as the "Red Devil." It causes the fatigue and hair loss. It is the doozy! Right now I am on my last drug which takes two hours to drip in. Then the nurse will change the dressing on my PICC line (which is basically a catheter in my arm and is a God-send when it comes to drawing blood) and we will be out of here! Afterwards I just get really sleepy. Later comes the fatigue, about one or two days later.
Today has been a great day and the last few days have been awesome too. Praise God for giving me strength and for giving me joy after several not-so-joyful days. It is so great to see how God, who is our ultimate joy, gives us an all-satisfying joy in Himself.
That basically sums it up. Again, thank you for your prayers and as always...thank you for reading.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Last few days with hair

Jon and I enjoyed a great night out for an early Valentines Day date! It is so wonderful to have my best friend and the love of my life here. I am praising God for His goodness. He is growing us both a lot as we go through this together.

Dear God,

Dear God,
I feel so alone today. I feel so down. Did you notice all of the hair dropping to the floor of the shower and swirling towards the drain? Did you see my shaking hands with strands intertwined between my fingers? I shook because my nightmares were coming true. I was just a humbled, naked body trembling in the shower.
This is such a humbling process, Lord. First, you are told that something within your own body is dangerous; in fact, it could kill you and it is lying just beneath your skin. You can see the lumps. Dreams and plans are taken or shifted for an unknown amount of time called "treatment." Doctors appointments are the only things marked out on your once filled planner. The word "cancer" continues to be a blow to the gut. You do not feel like going out because you are self-conscious about the two scars that now adorn your neck. You receive more cards and phone calls on the day of your sister's, and best friend's, birthday than she does. You feel like you have messed-up everyone elses plans. "Treatment days" come and they pump fluids into your body for hours. Some days after, you struggle to do basic things on your own. It is an emotional battle. Why put on make-up? You only wear sweatpants. Showering means help is needed. You can't go out. You bake a cake because you are bored. There are many times that you just sit and stare out into space. You feel lonely, sometimes even though someone is right beside you. No one quite understands. Part of you wants to run away. Everyday seems like a roller coaster with all of your ups and downs. Your body aches, but not as much as your soul. You hate yourself for how you are. You should be stronger, more okay. You avoid mirrors. You have no idea about the future; in fact, the present is baffling enough. You feel so far from normal.
I have shouted and wept before you. I have gritted my teeth at you. I have cried out. I have resisted. I have rested. I have bowed; and sometimes I have bended and tried to do things on my own as you broke me.
You have pursued and watched over me. You have been gracious. You have been faithful. You have convicted and comforted me with your Word. You have used the words of others to humble me. Daily you bestow hurdles and blessings and the grace to accept them both.
You know all of those question words that we studied in the sixth grade English class? What? Why? Where? How? How much? I have memorized them by now because they frequent my mind. Actually, they are trapped there; bouncing and reverberating off the sides.
A friend wrote me a letter; she included a verse at the end. "Rejoice always." I wanted to scribble the verse out and forget that it ever existed. How could you ask me, how could you command me to rejoice right now? I feel so "not-in-the-mood"? But you are the God who never changes and your commands never change. I am to take joy in you even when I don't feel like it. I am to obey.
So today, Lord, I need grace. I need grace to have joy.
I have been so overwhelmed by this, Father. I feel like I am floundering. Would you overwhelm me with yourself? I feel tiny. Is it wrong to pray for a miracle? Is it wrong to pray that you would deliver me from this? Or should I just go through this? Show me yourself, God. I feel like that Spanish praise song that I learned while I was in Ecuador; I am just a small girl before you. However, you love me, although I am nothing. How great is your love, Lord. Overwhelm me with your love. Right now I feel so far from the strong woman that people tell me that I am. I am just a tiny girl looking out the window wondering, timidly, what in the world is going on and what comes next. But I will trust in your love. I will trust in your mercies.

(this is from my prayer journal a few days ago)