Chemo Shmemo!

My cute little mom had her last chemo treatment yesterday, June 19th. She was such a rockstar through it all and we praise God for the strength and encouragement he provided for her the whole way! Please continue to pray for my mom’s healing and also for my Dad, as he is having surgery this Thursday. See update below:

Stick a fork in me, I’m done!
Today I had my last chemo treatment, so all I need is my follow up shot on Monday.
No radiation needed–yeah!
Will start a drug in a couple of weeks that I’ll take for 5 years. He didn’t mention any side effects, so I guess I’ll have to learn those from the pharmacist.
Will have a one-month follow up.
After that, a MRI and mammogram in one year.

Thank you so much for all of the cards, meals, phone calls, e-mails, visits, thoughts and prayers–they really all helped bring me encouragement and let me feel God’s love through you. I only had two bad days during the first week of my first treatment and had no sickness after that. I felt a peace and joy through it all, counting my blessings. Prayer really works.

When I was first diagnosed, I was reading tons of literature telling me what to expect as possible side effects–a bit confusing, depressing and scary. Then I thought I would call a couple of my friends who had gone through or were going through breast cancer. Much to my surprise they each told me in similar words that they would not wish cancer on anyone, but that it was an exciting journey that had changed their lives. Melony did not have to have chemotherapy, and Louise Gray was 2 months ahead of me on the same chemo treatment. She described the treatment as “very doable” and sent me a care package that had everything in it that I would possibly need. She became my guide and encourager through my experience. These women were so joyful that it started me out on the right track. Others came beside me like Cindy Goldsberry when she was diagnosed with breast cancer; Jill Saufferer and Terry Sewell, as well as the prayer ushers kept me “prayed up.” Mossy Minner (who I have heard of for years at Bethany, but didn’t really know her) made me a pouch to be placed over my shoulder and under the seat belt, as well as a heart shaped pillow for over my chest or under arm, both for comfort after my surgery. What a blessing! Bethany Flint cut her hair short and donated it to Locks of Love in honor of her mom, her niece, and me who all have cancer. Louise Gray walked in my honor in the Komen Race for the Cure in Arlington, shortly after she finished her chemo, and Jim Vasek participated in my honor in the Atlas 4000 charity bike ride to raise money for cancer research. My daughter Kristen dedicated Monday’s on her blog to me, although I didn’t give her much information the past month or so. My daughter Brittany’s friend who lives in New York and whom I have never met or talked to sent me two care packages just because she thought I must be a good person since Brittany is so sweet.

I had the pleasure of experiencing the prayer shawl ministry–a very cute pink wrap around scarf, and a pink shawl that I could feel the peace and comfort every time I wore it. The card said “As you wrap yourself in the comfort of the prayers lifted for you, experience the healing grace of Jesus Christ.” That is exactly what happened. My husband has been an awesome caregiver and has gone with me for every doctor’s appointment and chemo treatment; he’s a great cook; he brings me coffee or hot tea every morning when he is not working; and he does mornings and covers for me whenever I am too weak to do what needs to be done.

Many people have been surprised at how well I have handled the whole cancer experience. There are a few secrets that should not really be secrets:1) I am not afraid of death. I have had a great life; however there is a time for everything according to God’s purpose and none of us know when, where, or how that will be. I know where I am going after this life and seek to live each day to make a difference through the love of Jesus.2) God is with us all the time and He works everything for good. He promises that.3) There have been many blessings that have come from this experience–the most important is that my relationship with Christ has grown stronger. I had felt a bit distant for 6-12 months which is difficult when you have had a strong and joyful relationship. I wasn’t sure where it went or how to get it back. This did it and therefore was worth it all!4) It is through sickness and other challenging times that others are able to show and we are able to experience compassion and we draw closer to God. If everything was great all of the time, we would have no need to trust in God–in fact, we would think we were making everything happen ourselves.5) Dave and I have examined and re-prioritized our lives–work can do without us (a painful yet freeing discovery). We are taking more time off and making a point to visit family and friends and spend time with each other. We no longer sweat the small stuff.

As I close out this chapter of my health experience, we would like to let you know that Dave’s follow up tests in April showed that he does now have prostate cancer. He is scheduled for surgery June 25. His physician is very encouraged, saying he is young and healthy (the physician’s words, not ours, so no laughing); we caught it early; the recovery/non-recurrence rate is very high–96%; his physician does only these surgeries, every day, and has his own special team that works with him, so he is very competent. Dave will only be in the hospital for one night. He will not need any chemo or radiation. I will stay home with him for a couple of weeks, so that will be the biggest challenge–to see if I can match his caregiving abilities. He’s a different kind of patient than me, in that he doesn’t really like people to make a fuss over him, but when he needs something he wants it then. He anticipates my needs, and to be real honest I’m not there yet. I’m a fly by the seat of my pants reactionary person. We’ll see how that works or if I have to call in a home health agency.

Once again, some people would say “Oh my gosh!” We believe that God’s timing is perfect and he never gives you more than you can handle. If we would have both received our diagnoses and had surgery near the same time that would have most likely been devastating, and definitely tough. The fact that I am finished and he will start next week is a blessing. We praise God for our family and friends and ask for your prayers during the next few weeks.

In Christ, Anita/Nikki

I’ll leave you with a fun picture of my Dad and Katelyn in my mom’s wig.


Props to my sister for allowing me to steal the picture above from the McCurdy blog.

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