Friday, December 31, 2010
I woke up not wanting to make the drive to Nashville yesterday, but Wendell insisted we go and wouldn't let me cancel the appointment :( I couldn't help thinking, during the drive and the wait, how wonderful it was to be there without that sick feeling of doom in the pit of my stomach. I had made the appointment for 8:45 am hoping to avoid the normal 3-4 hour wait to be seen. We arrived around 8:30 and left the parking garage at 12:00!!!! Dr Netterville and his wonderful nurse, Jill, could not get over how well I look. They just kept commenting on it which really lifted my spirits and made me feel really good. I asked Dr. Netterville what he thought of my chances for a recurrence. His only answer to that was... it is unusual for this cancer to spread to the lymph nodes and he has felt as if mine showed up in that one lymph node, on the PET scan, (it was in three, I think, but was only visible in one), to give me more incentive to have the reconstruction surgery. He wanted to do the reconstruction surgery because he felt as if it would give me a much better quality of life. So I didn't really get a clear answer to my question but he did release me and said he hopes he never sees me again unless it was out on the street in Knoxville while shopping or something like that. I know the Lord led Wendell and I to Dr. Netterville as an answer to the many prayers that were being prayed for us. Dr. Netterville kept saying how glad he is that I am alive!!!! I honestly believe it is by the grace of God and through seeking His will, and trying desperately to follow His will, that I did survive and am alive!!!! I also believe Dr. Netterville is a good christian man and that it is truly his desire to be used to heal people and help to give them the best quality of life as possible. I know he has a deep heart felt desire to heal and help those who come to him. His "bed side manner" is remarkable!!!! If anyone ever needs a wonderful Otolaryngologist, Head and Neck Surgeon, Dr. Netterville is in the top 5 in the country. To me he is the best of the best!!!
I have a PET Scan scheduled for January 10, 2011. This will be the first one in six months. I have no visible signs of a recurrence. I have had to adapt to a new way of life and have some physical limitations but this has all became a "new normal" way of life for me and nothing too overwhelming that I can't deal with. My only real physical complaints would be the ever present bone pain and the overwhelming fatigue. Even with these two "ailments" I am extremely happy and blessed to be alive as we get ready to say goodbye to 2010 and welcome in the beginning of 2011!!!! I hope and pray that the PET scan will be "clean" and 2011 will begin on an upbeat.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Our fellow workers: Punky, Jonathan, Jess, Shana, Justin, Wendell, Spot, Kiah, Me and Lindsey. Aunt Linda had left before we took the picture and two others, Kayla and Dexter, were unable to attend.
I was browsing through my pictures and found this one of me, a year ago at the store party. What a difference a year can make!!! How good the Lord has been to me!!!
We celebrated Christmas with our kids and close family on Thursday, December 23rd.
Punky, Stephanie, Michael, Renee, Misty, Josh, Mikiah, Me and Wendell.
We celebrated Christmas with Wendell's side of the family on Christmas Eve at my mother-in-laws house. I failed to take any pictures there :( We all had a really good time.
Then on Christmas Day we celebrated with my side of the family here at my house. We had 31 here!!! We were missing 14 others that are usually here. My living room was packed but everyone seemed ok with it and we all had a great time. The food was delicious as usual. My Dad fried the turkey and I baked the ham, Teresa made the dumplings and Misty made the sweet potato casserole then everyone else cooked and brought other dishes and desserts, It was all wonderful!!! No one went away hungry!!!!
This is a picture of my kids and Teresa's boys. Rachel, Teresa's daughter was unable to be here, one of her children were sick :(
Seth, Punky, Stephanie, Josh, Kiah, Malachi, Jason, Lucas and Aaron.
All and all, we had a wonderful Christmas this year. My family has been blessed with health this year which is one of the biggest blessings we could hope for. As this year draws to an end I am thankful for the Lord's blessings on my family this past year. 2009 and 2010 have been the hardest years we have gone through. There have been many ups and downs both physically and emotionally. We have faced trials that we could not have imagined would come our way. Kiah dealt with a diagnosis of Histoplasmosis, and the treatments that followed. She went from 20/20 vision, to off the charts, worse than 20/400. She endured injections in her eye and has came out with 20/20 vision once again, which is pretty much miraculous!! To God be the Glory!!! Then my Mother unexpectedly passing away the day before my first cancer surgery. Then, I have dealt with the oral cancer diagnosis and the surgeries, radiation and chemo that followed. My Mother-in-Law and I were discussing the other day the fact that I have came through it all so well when so many others have not. We both agreed that it was due to the fact that the Lord led us to Dr. Netterville, one of the best ENT surgeons in the country, and the fact that sooooo many people have prayed for me!!!! I am still in awe of how so many people prayed for me, friends, family, aquaintances, and many many people I have never even met!!! God sure has been good to me and my family.
I sincerely hope everyone reading this has also had a wonderful Christmas filled with family, health, good food and most importantly the Love of God. As I think about the upcoming new year my mind becomes a little leary thinking of the unknown journey that lies before us in 2011. No matter what may come our way, I know by and through the Grace of God, all will be well. What ever our future holds, it is such a comfort knowing that our future is held in His hands!!!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
One health issue that I have failed to talk about in any of my blog posts, I once again experienced this morning. It's a very embarrassing, not to mention unpleasant, issue to experience or to talk about. That is why I have failed, or I guess more accurately "chosen not" to speak about it here on this blog. It is worse than any of the surgeries I have had, more painful than all the radiation I received, makes me more nauseated than the chemo ever did. That is why I decided to finally speak of it here in the hopes of saving someone else from ever having this problem. I know it is a side effect of the new medication I am taking. So if anyone else has started taking or have changed any of the meds they were taking, I just wanted to give you a little heads up on a possible side effect that you can take precautions to prevent. Well I guess at this point you may be a little curious? It's constipation. This is the second time I have had it to an extreme point. I won't go into great detail here but when I am in the throws of it's violent grip, I find myself thinking of Elvis!!!! I have honestly felt my heart stop beating, I was told by a nurse that it could actually be happening, caused by my Sciatic nerve. Today after about seven hours I finally got relief. By then I was running a temperature of 100.1 and just feeling miserable!!!! It is something that if you have never experienced to an extreme degree, you can not possibly understand.
It's hard sometimes, living in a body that doesn't function as it should. When my mind, although disputed by some :), functions normally, it's hard to deal with the effects of a less than normal functioning body. I couldn't hold back the emotions, I am normally so could at controlling, today.
I broke down sobbing in front of Punky today. I couldn't hold it back and even my will or resolve to hold it back just disappeared. My strong exterior became non existent today. I felt as if I had had all I could endure. I hate doing that. I hate placing that burden on my children. I realize how helpless they must feel. She went in the other room and I heard her dial the phone, Wendell arrived shortly after that. Wendell...what more can I say about him.....he has endured so much....more than a husband should ever have to...but oh how I thank God for letting Wendell be my husband. When he is taking care of me I feel so safe.
Once again, tonight as I write this, looking back over my day, I can still say Thank-You God for your marvelous grace!!!!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
When diagnosed almost two years ago, searching the web, I found a web site created by a man, Dennis, who was an oncology nurse and cancer survivor. He has set up his web site to list the various individual cancer blog sites he has found or been led to and to categorize them under titles of different cancer types. This site has been a tremendous blessing to me and countless others who have been diagnosed with cancer. It gives us a place to go to read others experiences with the form of cancer we have been diagnosed with. I finally emailed him this past weekend thanking him for the hard work he has put into his site and to also ask about adding my site to his list. It was exciting to hear back from him and to learn that he has added my blog to his list of Head and Neck cancers and has also reprinted my email on his home page, dated November 22, 2010 and titled "Cancer Site Kudos". I found this "expanded" opportunity to share not only my cancer experience but also my first hand experience of the precious, wonderful, marvelous Grace of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, with others, so exciting!!!!
For those who might be interested or are facing cancer themselves, his site is http://beingcancer.net/
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I really, really, miss my Mom these days. When she was living, I know I got caught up with my life, family and obligations that I didn't see or speak to her as often as I should have. But all I had to do was pick up the phone and she was there. Now that opportunity no longer exists, it is hard to deal with at times. When I needed a recipe or just cooking advice in general she was there. When I couldn't remember details of something, she would. Just the simple little things is what I miss so much. Losing my Mom so sudden and so unexpectedly and battling cancer has brought me mentally to a point where I haven't been before. The uncertainties of life have became so much more evident in my mind than ever before. It has caused me to realize, even more, how so many things I may have dwelt on, or wasted time worrying over, are so insignificant in the scheme of things.
I kind of thought that once you went through the treatments and were declared "cancer free" all was good. What I have learned is, once you have had cancer, you are never completely rid of all the cancer cells in your body. They are still there, in a sense "travelling" through your body, you just hope and pray they don't stop and take up residence!!! So, I realize, now more than ever before, how fragile my life really is.
Sometimes it even becomes scary and somewhat depressing to be happy. Which I am. Happier and more content than I have ever been in my....um...well...lets just say... some where over thirty years on this earth!!! But get this, I find myself, in my winter "dread", battling depression over being happy!!!! Afraid of being "too" happy, afraid "the other shoe will drop". Like I said, it is so much easier to stay positive when the sun is shining bright, warming my heart and soul but a bit harder to fight the crazy depression that can linger in the back of my mind when the sky is cold and dreary.
I don't mean to sound all doom and gloom in this blog but just want to be honest in what I say. I always welcome input from others, by way of blog comments or email, who may or may not be feeling the same way. I know that we all have our own unique path to walk. We all have our own way of coping and dealing with the things we face in this life. I know so many others may not have dealt with cancer but are dealing with other issues that I have never had to face. Even though the issues may not be identical they can generate the same emotions. Emotions that can leave us feeling drained and somewhat down if we let ourselves think of and dwell on them.
On top of all the things I have already mentioned, I also face the quilt of feeling even the slightest bit of unease or depression when the Lord has blessed me far beyond anything I could ever begin to deserve. For the most part I feel like one of the luckiest and most blessed women on earth. I love my husband and kids more than I could ever begin to express and know I have never done anything worthy of deserving the family God has blessed me with. It's funny but I don't question the bad things that have happened because I know even though I may not like them or understand them, God is in control and has a reason for all He allows to happen in my life. The funny part is I question what I have ever did to deserve His countless blessings on me.
I realize this particular blog post may seem scattered and hard to truly understand what I am thinking or trying to convey. I guess the short of it is... I write all the time about the goodness of God and how he has blessed me beyond measure. I know it is through His precious Grace I have came through all that has transpired in my life. When I have had pain or have been scared, He has been there picking me up, supporting, and even carrying me when I had no strength to walk. Oh, the true joy there is in knowing and belonging to Him. The sweet peace that can come with communing with Him. I can't express how good He has been to me and my family. He has brought great peace in the midst of a raging storm. But having said all this, if I am going to be honest in my blogging then I feel as if I need to talk also about the depression I find myself fighting at times. The reason for talking about it is...if others read this blog and wonder why they are doing everything right but are experiencing depression and they feel as if it has somehow eluded me, rest assured it has not. For the most part I am upbeat and am able to cope and deal with the things that have happened, but I am not exempt from feeling the mental pain and anguish that comes along, walking this path. I do have to "fight" the feelings of depression to keep them at bay and from overtaking me. I do have times when the depression starts to wash over me and I know if I give in or succumb to those feelings I could find myself falling into a deep dark abyss that would be incredibly hard to climb back up and out of.
As I have already mentioned, I love getting input from others, by blog comments or email, who are experiencing some of the same emotions. I guess it helps me to talk to and with others about walking this road of life. I have learnt so much on my journey. One of the things that I now know is, we all have our own unique path to walk in this life. The things we encounter on this journey may be of different origin but the emotions our journey invokes (especially as women) are so similar. The issues may be different but our human emotions and heartbreaks are all so similar and we can learn so much by watching and listening to others and seeing and hearing how they cope and deal with the hardships in life.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
One of the reasons I have written this blog, besides keeping everyone informed in the hopes of generating prayer for myself along the way :) Is because this cancer is so rare, when I was diagnosed I could only find one other blog of someone with this cancer in almost the exact spot orally that mine was and reading her blog helped prepare me for what was to come. Since then her blog has disappeared, I'm not quite sure why, but anyway I have always thought that chronicling my experiences here might be a help to someone in the future, if they too found themselves walking this path. Now that I have came through all the surgeries and all the treatments and still wake up every morning to share the days with my family, I feel so blessed that when most people ask how I am doing I reply with "wonderful" and tell them how the Lord has truly blessed me. It is because of His blessings on me that I hate to seem as if I am complaining about my health now, so that is why I haven't mentioned much about the physical problems I have been experiencing. In thinking over all this lately, I realized that in order to be a help to someone else I needed to keep chronicling my heath "woes" and the solutions.
I guess most people can clearly understand that when a person has battled cancer, from then on any health issue, no matter how minor it probably is, can send fear radiating down your spine until you have been reassured that it is not the cancer back, rearing it's nasty head again!!!!
A month or so ago I woke up in the middle of the night with an excruciating ear ache and a high fever. Not wanting to drive all the way to Nashville, to see my ENT, I went to my Radiology Oncologist who was willing to see me and prescribed some pretty potent antibiotics. After two weeks I was still no better, although the pain was somewhat better, I was still deaf in my left ear. Because Dr. Netterville had to remove my Eustacia tube during my original surgery my ears do not drain normally thus I am at an increased risk of having ear infections. My Oncologist referred me to an ENT in Knoxville to get the ear infection under control. After a few more days on antibiotics my ear returned to normal. About a week after curing the ear infection, I had a large lump come up on my neck on the right side. Needless to say I was once again terrified that the cancer was back, so once again I headed to the new ENT!!! He prescribed more antibiotics and also took a culture to send off. I got those results back last week. He said it had nothing to do with my cancer (Yeah!!!!) but was a pretty bad bacteria infection. I am now on my second round of antibiotics for this infection.
Before this cancer I was blessed with good health. Other than having my kids, or needing stitches due to an accident I never went to the doctor. Now it seems as if my week is just not complete without sitting in at least one doctors office!!!!!
About six months ago I began experiencing bone pain. I would wake up in the mornings hurting all over. Even my fingers and toes ached!!! It has gotten progressively worse over the last few months. It has become so bad on some days I just couldn't seem to function. I would get out of bed and go straight to my medicine bottle and then straight to my recliner where I would spend most of the day. I would rate the level of pain at a 7 or 8 on most days. I was taking so much Tylenol that I have became afraid of doing damage to my liver. Not only has the physical pain gotten to an almost unbearable point, but the mental stress of feeling so bad was really beginning to take its toll on me. I have never been a lazy person. Before cancer I would only sleep about four hours a night and while awake, would not stop. I was very productive. I know I will never be back to pre-cancer health and energy but would at least like to aspire to half of what I was before!!!!So I finally broke down and made another doctors appointment and went to see my family doctor last week. I was nervous going in because I felt as if I was on my last resort, that if I didn't get help from him there was going to be no relief from this pain. Physically I look very well, just to look at me, if you didn't know my history, you would not think anything was physically wrong with me. I have no outward sign of the inward pain I am feeling. I had been on the Internet researching the Chemo I had been given, to see if bone pain was a side effect. According to what I read, a lot of people who were given one of the chemo drugs I was given were experiencing bone pain two and three years out, but some of their oncologists were not convinced that the pain was related to the drug. So needless to say I was afraid my doctor would not understand and I would be unable to get any relief. My fears were quickly put to rest!!! He understood and even sympathized!!! He said that not only could it be partly the result of the chemo drugs but he also felt I was more than likely experiencing neuropathic pain. He explained several ways we could attack the pain and has started me on a few things he thinks will help. I was so thrilled he understood and had options for me, I could have shouted right there in his office!!!! On the down side he explained that this pain was something I would more than likely always have to deal with and there is a great possibility that over time it will get worse not better. Oh well, I just want to deal with today. I don't have the energy to deal with tomorrow's "possibilities"!!!LOL!!! I have learned to take one day at a time!!!! It's only been about a week since my visit to my family doctor but I am feeling some relief from the pain already, however my energy level is still pretty low. I know I need to wait a few more days before coming to any conclusions as to whether or not we are on the right track. I just thank God that He answered my prayer and my doctor understood!!!
Monday, October 25, 2010
For those who have never been here, this is a picture of our store, Wendell's Market And Deli, located at the top of the hill in Oakdale.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
We had gotten a GREAT deal on her dream car!!!!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Punky & Kiah LOVE my fashion sense!!!!
My Granny Roxie, My sisters Teresa & Kim, Me, Wendell, My Mom & Dad, Teresa's happy son Aaron, Teresa's Daughter Rachel, Stephanie, & my happy son Josh!!!
Wendell's sister-in-law Becky, His sister Pam, His sister Tiny and Scott, His Dad, His brother Tim, Wendell & I, His sister Donna, His Mom, Becky's daughter Ashley and son Rex.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
August 2008, I think the date was the 4th, on a Sunday night, I saw Kiah having Bryon put eye drops in her eye. When I questioned her about it she said her eye was blurry. Kiah has allergies so we thought it probably had something to do with that. Two nights later she came in the living room and told me her eye was still blurry and the wall looked wavy. Needless to say that scared me to death, although I tried not to let her know. I called Carolee and she got us in with one of the eye doctors she works for, first thing the next morning. I don't think I slept at all that night, being the optimist I am, not, all I could think of was a brain tumor pressing on the optic nerve. As soon as Dr. Mende checked Kiah she had a diagnosis, Histoplasmosis. I had heard this word before because Stephanie had came home from an eye exam several months prior and told me Dr. Mende asked if she knew she had it. Stephanie did not know. Dr. Mende had told Stephanie at that time it was dormant and was just something to keep an eye on (haha no pun intended). Anyway, she sent us directly from her office to a retina specialist in Knoxville where we spent the rest of that day having tests done on Kiah's left eye. To make a long story a little shorter...Histoplasmosis is a very serious disease. Kiah went from having 20/20 vision in her left eye, to off the charts, over 20/400 in a matter of days. People go blind from this disease. It causes bleeding on the retina, when they are able to stop the bleeding the patient is left with scars which cause the blind spots. It is not curable and can happen at any time. I have since learnt that we live, here in the south, in what is known as the Histo belt. Histoplasmosis is caused by chicken and bat droppings. The fungus is in the air. If we were all tested for it most of us would test positive for it, but it remains dormant in most people, they do not know why it becomes active in some. When it does become active it is usually in some one a lot older than Kiah. The doctors were shocked that she had it at such a young age. We had people everywhere praying for Kiah. She had a laser surgery which made her vision worse not better. Finally after much research and changing doctors, Kiah was given three injections, one a month for three months, in her eye. She was just 15 years old at the time. She was wide awake for the injections. Can you imagine having your eye held open with a clamp and watching as a needle is fixing to be stuck in it? It was a very traumatic experience for her and I. It is something that I pray she never has to endure again. It was all I could do to hold it together each time until we got back home and I could go "loose it" privately. Everyone we know, and people we didn't know, were praying for her. When all was said and done she was left with what is virtually unheard of ... 20/20 vision in that eye!!! She has a blind spot and has to adjust the way she uses that eye when reading but she has her vision!!!! The Dr. was left amazed by her, we were left amazed at God's grace and power!!! I am thinking of this now because....She had her last injection in October 2008. The last time she saw the specialist we made a follow up appointment for three months later but had to cancel because she was playing basketball at that time and had an away game on that day. We were suppose to reschedule but then I got my diagnosis and we started my battle. Of course I asked her constantly about her vision and she would say it seemed the same. Anyway, we finally went for a checkup this past Friday. Her vision is still 20/20, even though she has to look "around" the scar. Dr. Miller was amazed that she has done so well for two years now. I just want to give God the praise and glory. I know He hears and answers prayer!!!! He has proven that to my family time and time again. I thank Him for His precious grace that is still sufficient. Please, when you think of it from time to time, say a little prayer for Kiah and that if it is God's will this disease will continue to amaze the Doctor by remaining dormant in Kiah!!!
Tomorrow's the last holiday of the summer!!! I hope everyone has a great Labor Day!!!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Joe, Brook, Wendell, Punky and Kiah before church on Sunday, Father's Day.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I wasn't excited about returning to "the real world". Kiah and I would have loved to have stayed another week!!!!! The weather was absolutely gorgeous every day but Sunday, our first full day there, it was cloudy and rainy. We had a wonderful time just staying at the beach and pool during the day and going to dinner at night. We did very little shopping this time, we were just too content to be on the beach!!!! I have been to a lot of different beaches, in the states, and feel none compare to the beaches at Destin. I highly recommend this vacation spot to anyone planning a trip to the beach. We have actually been going there for the last eight or ten years, and look forward to it every year!!!! The white sand beaches are beautiful!!!
Monday, May 17, 2010
Karen & Me
Jeff & Wendell
Kiah, Me, Wendell & Punky at The Back Porch restraunt last night.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Punky, Reid, Kiah and Wendell Playing football on the beach.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
I had a PET Scan yesterday and will go today at 1:15 for the results. I have to admit it is a little nerve racking waiting to hear the results. I know the drill....I do ok until... I get into the exam room...waiting on the Doctor...then I become a nervous wreck!!! During this time...Wendell likes to talk...about the weather, the store, and a million other topics, that seem at that point in time unimportant to me! LOL!!! I on the other hand don't like to talk, I just want to sit there being a nervous wreck until the doctor comes in and declares me CANCER FREE!!!! Oh well, I guess we all have our different ways of dealing with things!!! I wonder if this process will ever become easier? It's so wierd going to different appointments and seeing the signs outside the buildings and on the office doors that declare those particular buildings some form of "Cancer" centers. I had an overwhelming since of hate wash over me yesterday for that word, when I saw it on the door I was fixing to enter. The emotion surprised me, but I couldn't help it. It is a wierd sensation when that is no longer just a word to you but a part of your life, day in and day out, you never really get away from it. Uncertainty is the forefront thought. Then I walk in these places and see others, mostly older than myself, in different stages of treatments. Sometimes you have to fight really hard not to lose your joy. Seeing so many others around you suffering, is something hard to forget or place in the back portion of your mind. It's funny how "Cancer" has a look. You become able to spot it even from a distance.
My hair is getting really thick but not very long. The look is one that I have not been very fond of!!! I thought about going to a stylist to see if they could do anything to make it look better, but the thought of them cutting one single hair sends shivers down my spine!!!!LOL!!! So I got the moose bottle out the other day and applied it generously:) The look is different!!! I laughingly refered to it as "My Ellen Degenerous" look!!! (Because of my broad shoulders and boyish build I have never liked short hair on me. I feel like it makes me look manly!!!) Now Wendell and the girls no longer refer to me as "Mom" they now call me Ellen!!! They always know how to bring my joy back!!! Whether it's mocking my speech or making fun of my weight, or hair, or my sometimes surprisingly emotional state, they have a way of bringing laughter back into my life!!! They are a huge part of my joy in this world!!!! I couldn't have survived without them!!!
If you have a spare moment today please say a little prayer for me and Wendell. What ever the results I know God's amazing grace will be sufficient.
Monday, March 22, 2010
"It's funny how we do it, Make plans for our lives. We plan for success and try to pass the pain right by. But it just doesn't work that way, God has a different plan, He works in ways we never see, beyond the scope of man. When the journey takes a detour unexpectedly and I try to accept and understand what it all means. When I'm pressed to show the world what I really believe, I will trust you Lord...With my life."
I have to fight to keep my emotions in check everytime I hear this song. It describes how I have felt over this past year. March 23, 2009 is a date that my life began to take an unexpected detour, one that If I tried to understand it or make since out of it, I would have a difficult time. I can remember so many times sitting in Church listening to Bro. Jones preach to those with broken hearts and those facing difficult trials in their lives. I remember thanking God for my life and His blessings and knowing that although it was not me at that moment the message was meant for, It could very well be me one day in the future.
That Sunday night last year, as I laid there making plans in my mind, I had no idea those plans were to become so insignificant within a few short hours. I had called and talked to my Dad earlier that day and knew my Mom still had a terrible headache that she had had for several days. That Sunday night around midnight Dad called to tell Wendell he had taken Mom to the hospital and he would keep us informed. Every other time anyone in my family was taken to the hospital I would have immediately went. This time I didn't. We did not know how serious it was at that time. After a pretty sleepless night, we found out through phone calls early Monday morning that they thought Mom had had a stroke. Wendell and I immediately headed up there. By the time we got there Mom was already on life support. She went to be with the Lord that Monday night March 23, 2009 at about 7:00 p.m.
My family insisted I go ahead with my surgery, the cancer had grown a lot since my surgery was first scheduled and if I cancelled, it would be several weeks before I could reschedule. The threat of the cancer spreading more within that time frame was real. Dad let me know he wanted me to go ahead and he would wait to have Mom's services until I got back. Part of me felt almost selfish in going ahead with the surgery but there was the part that thought my kids needed me around and I didn't want the cancer to spread even more. So Wendell and I left the hospital that night, drove home, packed our bags and left for Nashville around 10:00 p.m. It was a long drive. We were both exhausted and almost in a numb state. I remember telling him, on the drive out, that I know God has a reason, but I was sure having a hard time understanding what it was...why this order of events?
Since that time I have to say I still don't understand everything but He has revealed some things to me. I miss my Mom terribly. I was on so much medication over the past year that I find myself grieving even more now, than I did then. I guess if there is a blessing in this that I can partially understand right now, it is the fact that she didn't have to see me suffer through all the cancer "stuff". Being a Mother myself and knowing the love that a Mother has for her children I am glad she didn't have to endure seeing me in the shape I was in. My Mom was such a beautiful, young looking, vibrant woman, that I never dreamed she would leave us at such a relatively young age. She was just 66.
Then of course the other date, March 24, 2009 was the date of my first cancer surgery which has definately changed life as I knew it!!! I guess if there was one thing I miss the most, more than pizza or breads, it would be the ability to sing!!! Ok, before those that know me well, start cracking the jokes...I didn't say sing WELL!!! I just said sing!!! When our Church congregation is all standing singing a hymn I guess I miss being able to join in more than anything else.
But, all in all, as I sit in Church and listen to Brother Jones preach to those with a broken heart or those that are going through a trial in there life right now, I thank God for my life and His blessings and I know that although the message is not meant for me at this moment, It could very well be, one day in the future.
Monday, March 15, 2010
I went to a dermatologist on the 9th for the place on my arm I had mentioned in an earlier post. It turned out to be Squamous Cell Carcinoma. I went back and had it cut out and will go back tomorrow to have the stitches removed. The place was small but he cut out quite a bit, I had to have eleven stitches. The good thing was it was on my left arm, the one already deformed from my previous surgery!!! I have now found a small knot on the right side of my neck, I will ask him about tomorrow. After all I have experienced over the past year every little bump or pain seems to trigger a response in me now. I just try to continue to pray and ask the Lord for His will to be done and most of all for the grace to make it from day to day.
I also go tomorrow for blood work in anticipation of my up coming PET Scan which is scheduled for April 6th.
As time goes on, I find myself living life with a very different attitude than I had before cancer. When I was first diagnosed it was so easy for me to just pray and turn it all over to God and know His will would be the best for me. Now having gone through all I have gone through there is always the fear, of the cancer returning, lingering in the back of my mind. I know if it does God's grace will still be sufficient for me, but I can't help but be a little scared now that I know what physical suffering is like. I am not afraid of dying. I don't wish to die. I want to live here with my family as long as the Lord allows. But I am afraid of physical suffering. I know I have probably spent way too much time on the Internet researching oral cancer, because now I know more than I wish to, of the possibilities.
As far as my physical state right now.... I still struggle with swallowing. I eat mostly soft foods, but I can eat a little chicken or steak if I cut it in very small bites and "wash" it down with gravy or mashed potatoes or pinto bean juice!!!! I still can't eat pizza or burgers or bread or chips, so fast food is not an option for me when we go out. I have to go somewhere where potatoes are fixed in ways other than french fried!!! I wasn't able to eat anything acidy, like ketchup or dressings because it would for some reason burn my mouth. But that seems to be getting a little better. I was even able to drink a few sips of a beloved Diet Coke the other day!!!!! My arm and leg, (where they took the graphs), although they look awful do not give me any problem at all. The only place I still experience pain is in my jaws, teeth, and ears, but pain meds take care of that. My speech is understandable unless I talk too fast, but I have been thought to be mentally challenged by some when I open my mouth and speak!!! I must admit there have been a few times when I have felt a little self conscious over my speech but for the most part I am able to laugh about it. I still have the port in my chest where they administered the chemo and I can't wait to get it out!!! The chemo doc told me to leave it in until I have had two clean PET Scans. My second one is coming up soon so hopefully......
Sunday, February 14, 2010
I was so nervous waiting on that appointment. Not knowing what I was going to be told. I was able to hold back my emotions until we were leaving the office. Then I let go and cried. I thanked the Lord every few minutes on the ride home. I had wondered on the way out there what the ride home would be like. Needless to say it was a JOYOUS one!!!!
At the time of that appointment, all I wanted to hear was it was not the cancer back so soon, once I heard those words it didn't matter to me what it actually was, so I didn't ask a whole lot of questions. The radiation has caused the skin to come off my jaw bone, in this spot. The place was about the size of a pencil eraser, but has expanded since, and now is a little bigger than a nickel. At the time I thought the soreness in my mouth was from thrush but now that the thrush is gone I realize it is from this place. I got to the point last week where I couldn't eat much of anything, it hurt so bad. I lost three pounds, which a year ago would have made me happy, now it is so hard for me to eat and get the proper nutrition that losing even a pound or two is concerning for me. To keep my immune system up I have to force myself to eat. Wendell was able to contact my Doctor and get me some pain medication and some Lydicane to numb my mouth. He takes such great care of me!!!! I am now able to numb my mouth enough to eat some.
This cancer has changed my life in so many ways, physically and mentally. From time to time I do find myself having pity parties for myself over the physical changes this cancer has caused. I honestly try not to have these parties often or to let them last too long!!! I know my blessings far out weigh any of the negative things this cancer has caused. The Lord has truly been good to me. His grace has been sufficient. I am beginning to realize, however, the constant fear of it coming back will be something I am going to have to learn to live with. Now, every little ache or pain or anything physically unusual brings on the fear that the cancer could be back. I know all the logical things like... my life is in God's hands and His Grace Will be sufficient...and I truly believe these things...but I haven't, as of yet, learned how to not be fearful. I am not afraid of dying. I am, however, terrified of suffering. It was so easy before to turn it completely over to God. Now that I have experienced some of the physical suffering that I have experienced, and would never have imagined, I must admit it is harder to pray as I did before... "No matter what, Thy will be done." Last week all I wanted was MY will... for it NOT to be cancer.I had no peace and I was terrified. You know, just now, as I am writing this, I am realizing something!!!! I was absolutely terrified last week. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't think of anything else. the terror consumed me.I had never felt that way before. I never felt that way during any moment of the last year. It is now, right now, becoming more clear to me. When I totally surrendered to God's will, with that surrender came a peace. Wanting only "my" will brought no peace. Desiring and surrendering totally to His will, came with peace and grace!!! We serve an amazing God!!!!
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I found a lump on my jaw the other day. At first I thought it was just thrush. It's hard to see since my mouth doesn't open very wide. I don't know how long it has been there. It's white and very hard. I am terrified. I wish I could say I wasn't but I am. The last time I was at Dr. Nettervilles office, I met a man who had his bottom jaw removed because of cancer. My mind keeps going back to him and our conversation. I am terrified.
Wendell has got me a very hard to get appointment in Nashville for today. Dr. Netterville is in surgery all day so I will be seeing his assistant. My appointment time is 2:00 Central time, 3:00 eastern time. PLEASE PRAY FOR ME!!!!
I know God's grace has been sufficient in the past. I know that it can be sufficient for now and in the future. I need that grace more now than ever.
I will report here when we get back tonight but it will be very late.
Please, please pray for me.