Fight Like A Girl!

Know Your Body--Hear The Whisper

Ovarian Cancer isn't talked about much. I knew little about it when I was diagnosed with advanced (stage IIIC) ovarian cancer. Even though I had experienced basically all of the symptoms for months, it was never even considered that I might have this deadly disease. That's the way it is with OC. Symptoms are often mistaken for other problems.
It's important that women become informed. We are screened for breast cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer and our hearts are checked regularly. We should be screened for ovarian cancer as well. Until that time, women must become their own advocates and know the signs and symptoms so that a diagnosis can be made before it's too late.
If you have any of these symptoms almost daily for more than a month, you must demand a CA-125, a trans-vaginal ultrasound, and a pelvic/rectal exam.
  • Bloating
  • Pelvic/Abdominal Pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary Symptoms (difficulty emptying, painful or frequent urination, etc.)
As you can see, these are very common symptoms, and that's why ovarian cancer is so often overlooked.

Know your body. Hear the whisper.

Below is a chronicle of my journey through diagnosis and chemo. It is by no means complete and at times pretty sporatic. There were so many times that the days were so dark that I could not even think, let alone write. Even now...months after the chemo I still struggle with expressing my thoughts and even the mechanics of typing. Both of which were not a problem in the least for me before cancer and chemo. I am hoping it's temporary, but preparing for permanent.

October 26, 2009 - The news wasn't good...need to see a gyn/oncologist.

Praying the names of God…
One way I need You most…Jehovah-Rophe
One way our church needs You most…Jehovah-M’Kaddesh
One way my family needs You most…Jehovah-Shalom

The soul that on Jesus
Hath leaned for repose.
I will not, I will not
Desert to his foes.
That soul, though all hell
Should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake. (How Firm a Foundation)

Thank You, Heavenly Father, that although hell is endeavoring to rock my world and my faith in You, that You will never, no never, no never forsake me.

October 27, 2009
(Ephesians 2:6-7) Today I am overcoming and seated in a position of victory at the right hand of God! Yes, that’s what it says, I double checked!
You, Oh, Lord, are able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine…Thank You, Jesus; thank You, Father; thank You, Spirit!

November 2, 2009
Thank You for another day to enjoy Your creation and to be loved on by your people. You have opened my eyes to the privilege you’ve given me to sit among Your chosen ministers and pray and work with them. The pastor and youth pastor's prayers for me in staff meeting was the balm I needed for the rest of the day. Thank You for Godly men. Then at the end of the day – to spend time with my best friend – WOW – more than I could ask for. Thank You, Jesus.

November 3, 2009 am
I need Your strength again today, and I know You will provide exactly what I need. I’m a little overwhelmed at how much I need to catch up at the office and here at home. Help me, Lord, to discern what is really needed and what can wait. I want to sit at Your feet and I want to be with my friends and family. I want to encourage them through this – But, Jesus, You know what I want. Lord, what do You want of me today? Oh…okay…You want me to BELIEVE You today! Thank You, Jesus. Like the man in Luke 9 – “I do believe—help me with my unbelief."

November 3, 2009 pm
Thank You for the strength and joy You gave me today. It was a good day – one that I was able to encourage by my faith that You are completely trustworthy. I took my eyes off You this evening, though, and saw the scary waves around me and started sinking. Do I ask about the results of the CA 125 test tomorrow? I can, and they have to tell me. Do I want to know before the surgery? Is it even reliable? All these questions!

Lord, You are not worrying about all this. You aren’t fearing tomorrow. Help me with the doubts and fears that come every night. Days are good – nights, not so much. Help me trust You! Be my Jehovah-Shemmah “the God who is there” when night comes. Thank You, Lord, even for my down times.

December 2, 2009

9’ish a.m.
It’s been a wild ride since the diagnosis the week before my birthday and my surgery on November 10.

I saw Dr. S this morning for my post op check-up. I am also here for my very first chemo treatment.

Good news, Dr. S estimated that the surgery got probably 99% of the OC.  I posed a question. I asked her if she thought it would be worth the treatment, and she immediately said yes. I was encouraged to hear that she spoke in terms of years, not months, as I was afraid of. I can do this…well not I but Christ in me. 

I have been blessed by so many people since the diagnosis and have received many gifts and expressions of love. My hero is sitting here in the chemo room with me, and he is being so good and so patient with me. Christ is working through him as well. –Thank you Lord for my husband.

My prayer is still that God will be glorified.

God doesn’t waste suffering if He leads us into impossible spots, He will deliver us in His own time, in His own way, and for His name’s sake. Our job amid the difficulty is to learn our Lord’s simple but submissive prayer, ‘What shall I say? Save me from this hour? No, Father, glorify Your name.’“

“Instead of asking how did we get into this mess, we should ask how will God gain glory through this situation.”—from The Red Sea Rules…10 God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times  (from one of the precious gifts I’ve received)

11:30 a.m
Okay, well, I am apparently not allergic to Taxol. It’s going in full speed now.  So far, so good. Thank You, Lord, for overcoming that hurdle.

3:00 p.m. (ish)
Taxol done and starting the carboplatin. My new best friends. Won’t be long now—about 30 minutes for the carboplatin.

Came home feeling pretty good actually. Now to focus on organizing all the vitamins and pills I have to take. I hope I can get them all straight.

Took a sleeping pill and a phenagren before bed and slept pretty good. No nausea. So far, so good.

December 3, 2009
9:00 pm
It’s been a good day. Pretty uneventful. No nausea. That’s good. I’ve rested most of the day. The biggest problem so far is the restlessness, sort of tingling, in my legs. It’s hard to lay still. But I’ll take that over being sick anytime.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings. I’ll be glad when I don’t have to take the nausea meds prophylactically. I think I’ll feel much better then. Thank you, Lord, for this day.

Saturday, December 5, 2009
3:00 pm
Yesterday and today, lots of pain. Pain in my abdomen (they say it might be tumor pain – tumors reacting to the chemo—yay! Go chemo!!!) and pain in my feet and legs. It could be worse, I still haven’t been sick yet. Trying to eat but nothing tastes very good. Everything has a sort of metallic taste, kind of flat. Water doesn’t even taste very good, but I’m still trying for 2-3 liters per day. Taxol and Carboplatin – my two new best friends????? With friends like those, who needs enemies. Haha

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
10:30 am
I finally feel halfway human. Have felt so bad—generally fatigued—that I haven’t even felt like journaling.  Still haven’t been sick, but feel nauseous whenever I’m up; so I’m lying around a lot. No energy to do anything anyway. Note to self—don’t miss the colace three times a day and take a dulcolax or milk of magnesia at bedtime. Also, the xanax works much better than the sleeping pill. Right now, whatever works, right?

Was able to get up and fix my hero's breakfast and lunch this morning. I feel so bad with him working and coming home and having to wait on me. This is very strange to me, and I don’t like it a bit. It could be worse, though.

Gonna have both of my beautiful daughters both in town this weekend. Thank You, Lord. I need us to be all together.

Sunday, December 20, 2009
11:30 pm
Well, this was buzz day. My hair has been falling out for about a week now, but it really started coming out by the handfuls for the last three days. I don’t want it everywhere, so I let hero buzz me. (humbling experience for both of us) It really looks strange, but I think it’s going to get stranger when I’m bald with no eyebrows and lashes. Very alien-like probably.

Day after tomorrow I get to learn my fate concerning the next chemo treatment. It's the IP one. All I know right now is what I’ve read on the internet and it looks pretty scary. Maybe the folks at the clinic have some sort of secret up their sleeves to make it not quite so bad, you think?

As far as how I’ve been feeling, actually I’m doing pretty well. I’m really tired most of the time and still have some pain and a lot of brain fog (what else is new, right?). Anyway, I’m looking forward to Christmas, even though I have almost nothing bought and what I have bought isn’t wrapped. I do have two beautiful Christmas trees thanks to my wonderful daughters and super-d-duper Christmas lights on the house outside, thanks to hero and my daughter, Rachel.

Still haven’t been to church. I don’t know if I’m more uncomfortable with the fact that I could catch something that would send me into a tail spin, or seeing all the people for the first time, and having them make a big deal about me being there. Hmmm. I just don’t know.

Have I mentioned how wonderful my husband is being throughout this whole ordeal? I could not ask for better love and care. I pray that the Lord will keep him strong and give him what he needs to get through this.

My sisters, daughters, and friends are wonderful, too. It seems like I just have to think about something I want or need, and it’s right there—“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Thank you, Jesus, for my husband, my family, and my friends. Your love overflows.

Oh, and I found the most wonderful verse I’d never seen before to It Came Upon a Midnight Clear:
O ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

WOW. I needed that. And you know why they’re singing? Because Jesus came to take all this pain away. Awesome, huh? Thank you, again, Jesus! And again, Father, glorify your name.

Lunch with my best lady friends tomorrow. Get to show off my new ‘do – no, no, not the buzz, but one of my wigs.

Wednesday May 26, 2010
11:30 p.m.

(Oh yeah, I noticed a big gaps in my journaling—from December to May??? Well, I’m gonna try to fill in the blanks. Sometime…..But the chemo nearly "done me in" as they say!)

Well, today was another chemo day. My technicolor (or I guess I should now say HD) world is turning into shades of gray. (LOL-I really showed my age with that Technicolor reference, huh?) But I'll be back in a few days. I am hoping that this is the last of chemo for a while (or at least the big guns), but I am willing to do what I have to do to fight this beast! Only, that sounded like I'm going to do it alone, didn't it? Well, actually, I can't by myself, but I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, and with the army of friends and family that He has blessed me with to see me through. God really is good all the time. I know we say that a lot these days, sometimes from the perspective of just wanting to say something good, but other times out of a heart that is breaking over loss, yet realizing that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes. A heart that is really trusting Him for it's next beat. That is where I am, and it's a wonderful place to be. I thank Him that He is trustworthy. I must be obedient. Thanks to my Abba Father...Daddy God.

* * *
I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped me on this journey. I have been overwhelmed by cards, food, transportation to and from chemo, gifts, and visits. Wow. Just thinking about all the love that's been sent my way takes my breath away.

He really is GOOD.

I don't know who all will read this, but I hope you know that whatever you're going through in your life, there is help and there is Hope! Keep the faith! Trust and obey, for there's no other way...

* * *
Oh, and I am so thankful for the fact that my daughter, Jessica, and I are starting back the Bible study that got pushed to the side by the beast. We had such a wonderful time yesterday sitting outside Panera after lunch inside, and studying our Seeking Him Bible study. Wow, I just used the word study a lot, didn’t I? Anyway, I’m excited about getting this going again. She actually suggested that we go back to the beginning and do over what we’ve already done. That’s a wonderful idea. I’ve seen a difference in some of my answers from BC (before cancer) and AC (after cancer).

AND…Rachel leaves tomorrow evening for Germany. I would like to be a stowaway, but I would want hero and Jessica to stowaway, too. So, I will stay home and Skype with her when we can.

AND…got to get well for a Memorial Day shindig this weekend with the fam. AND will leave Tuesday for a cabin in the mountains with my hero. Could it get any better? Thank You.

Thursday, June 3, 2010
10:30 pm (or 11:30 pm here in the mountains)

Mountains. :-) They speak to me.

Well, I wasn’t able to make it to the Memorial Day shindig with the family after all. Sad day. The chemo bug just didn’t leave soon enough. We did get a visit from one of my nephews and family. All of them! I was sitting on the couch, in my nest, and my little great-nephew just came and snuggled with me and played his video game while we all visited. I haven’t had a snuggle from a little kid in a very long time. It was wonderful! My little great-niece had much anticipated seeing Noma, but she was kind of shy at first. Everyone had talked about me to her so much that she couldn’t wait to see me, but when she did, she was really shy. She warmed up some later and would talk to me a little. She kept going around the house looking for Chachel and Sessi (you know who you are).  She is so precious! It was good to see the teen great-nephew, too. He is getting so tall! He is looking forward to spending the summer with his dad. I love that little family so much.

As I write this, I am sitting on the screened-in porch of the cabin in the mountains. It is so beautiful here. We haven’t done much since we’ve been here, but it’s been just what we both needed.  We have hiked a little, and I use the word hike loosely. My stamina isn’t what I want it to be, but I’ll take what I’ve got. We’ve gone to a couple of really cool lookouts and the view is amazing. I keep looking for deer, but so far I haven’t seen any. There are plenty of squirrels around, though, as well as some skunks (not yet seen, but they have let their presence be known which I fondly refer to as skunkage). At least their mark was left down the road a bit and not around our cabin.

I am so thankful for this little vacation and for the real quality time Hero and I are having with each other. Did I mention how much I love him and appreciate the way he is standing by me and loving me through this cancer journey?  I am amazed by his patience and kindness throughout this ordeal.

Most of our time here at the cabin has been spent reading books on how to get healthier. He is reading the book Carey Reams wrote on RBTI. I am reading a best-seller book called Anti-Cancer. Funny how similar the concepts are as far as what our diets should look like for fighting disease and ramping up our immune system. We have big plans that by the grace of God we’ll put into place when we get back home.

We’re going to the my favorite store this afternoon to buy some grains for the grain mill given to me by my nephew and his sweet wife. The store about 2 hours away from where we are right now, but I don’t mind the ride. The mountains and the countryside here are so beautiful.

I guess for the sake of record I need to say something about this last chemo (I don’t really want to talk about it, but I should do a better job of recording what the stuff is doing to me, especially since this is the Fight Like a Girl section).

This time seemed to be the worst. It was #8 (what I hope to be the last). The neuropathy was worse and the feelings of nausea were worse than ever. Still the meds do a good job. I had chemo on Wednesday and wasn’t really out of it until Monday. I didn’t get the ferocious headache that I got last time, although I have had a lot of what I hope to be “tumor pain”. If that’s the case, I want it to hit those tumors  really hard! What I’m really looking forward to June 30 is to hear NED (no evidence of disease).

Thank you, Father, for this vacation. And thank you for my hero husband. I am blessed.

11:56 pm
Got back to the cabin and found a surprise. A SCORPION was in our cabin. I didn’t know there were such critters east of the Mississippi. I was so stunned. I didn’t have the forethought to take a picture of it. I had been trying to be kind to the wildlife even when it got inside, but a scorpion was a bit much. Instead of escorting it out as I had some other crawly things, I summoned my hero, and he stepped on it before it could run under the stove where we couldn’t get to it. Sorry, nature, but I don’t want to share a cabin with a scorpion. S’riously!

Before the scorpion encounter, we saw a silver fox on our way back to the cabin. We also saw a cat that looked a lot like my sister's cat, Kiddly. We weren’t expecting to see a cat in the forest! We also saw a skunk and experienced a little of its essence.

* * *

Chemo side effects are almost gone. I’m not nearly as quick to tire as I have been, however, my feet and fingertips are still numb and tingly. No nausea, no pains (except my feet), no headache or anything else. I may even be able to get to sleep without the pain medication. Even the chemo taste hasn’t been too bad today. But darn this disease! I am really getting weary of it consuming my thoughts and conversations. I’m ready to move past this now and get on with living life, now with a passion that I haven’t had until AC.

Some people have asked how I go on with life after such a devastating diagnosis, and the only answer I have is faith in my loving Heavenly Father and the fact that I know He loves me and has a plan for me. How I live with the diagnosis is summed up by a quote from the movie, Sleepless in Seattle, when after losing his wife and the mother of his young son, Sam said, “Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning... breath in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breath in and out... and, then after a while, I won't have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while.” And I have been blessed. I am still blessed. Life’s not perfect and it’s not fair, but it’s life, and I love it. I don’t want to miss out on today worrying about tomorrow.

…And I’m not brave I just do what I have to do.

* * *
Must remember to reschedule my mammogram appointment and move my port removal to ASAP. What was I thinking??? I can’t get a mammogram with this silly IP port in, and the incision has to have time to heal before the big squeeze. Will take care of all that rescheduling Monday.

Okay, so this is very chatty. What can I say? Mountains :D

More tomorrow…

June 4, 2010
10:12 a.m.

“Suffering doesn’t teach me about myself from a textbook, it teaches me from my heart. It will always show me what I can love—either the God of all comfort or the comfort that can become my god.” – Joni Erackson Tada

We’re sitting on the porch of the cabin this morning, Hero's drinking coffee and I’m drinking green tea. It’s cloudy in the mountains this morning, but there’s a cool breeze. I am so thankful to be here.

I’ve talked to Jessica every day and to Rachel this morning. I am really looking forward to getting together with #1 for our Seeking Him Bible study next week. That’s going to be a priority and not get shoved aside because of other things getting in the way. I’m also looking forward to #2 being home. She was on the balcony of a castle in Salzburg looking out over the Alps. I guess that trumps our view of the mountain! I am so glad both of “my girls” are doing so well, and I will be glad when we can all three get together this summer and do our girl stuff. Got a lot of catching up to do!

This looks like it’s going to mostly be a porch day, with some walks here and there. The last day of a trip is always bittersweet for me. I want to stay longer, yet, I want to be home.  Kind of like our spiritual life when we know Christ. We want to stay longer here, yet we want to be home with Jesus. Hmmmm……

more later…