2007 Breast Cancer 3 Day

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

be encouraged Christmas is still Special

To all of Fran’s friends especially in the FIAR community your love and awesome display of love and is over whelming. My heart for my wife still beats for her and longs for her; the sadness is real every day. But the gesture of love and comfort that you gave me is very special I knew that it would be but it goes beyond my expectations. Thank you all. I sent out the following to many of our friends and family because I wanted to share how good, gracious, and kind God is.

I thought that I would share this with all of you since everyone has been so great to my family this year. It is not to be taken lightly how we all impact each others lives. I in no way want to come across as proud or boastful my heart in sharing this is just to encourage you and remind you that God is good even in our deepest hurt and pain.

Today the verse in my devotional was II Cor. 1: 3-7 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

Fran was an active blogger and home school mom the following will tell her story and how she was loved as you read both of the links below from two of Fran’s friends. Emma and I read both of these before going to bed last night.

May your Christmas be blessed, to all of our friends.

Ed, Fran
Emma, Eden, E.J., Elliott, Eric

You may want to grab a Kleenex.

Marcy and I both have a blog post up if you'd like to read them sometime. Marcy's is here... http://www.benandme.net/2010/12/for-fran.html and mine is here... http://trainingheartsathome.blogspot.com/2010/12/delivering-frans-quilts.html.

FIAR Mom Chrity daughter Kelli, FIAR Mom Marcy, Emma and Ed

Friday, June 18, 2010

Into your hands...........

Well the angels in heaven rejoiced Wednesday morning at 9:35 AM as they ushered my sweet Fran into the presence of our LORD. What a day to meet Jesus it was the kind of morning we enjoyed many days, quite blue sky, with a slight breeze outside and with her family at her side.

I am to heart broken to have much to say right now. But I will say that out of the mouths of babes God speaks. Our sweet daughter Emma summed up the day as we shared our evening meal with out Fran by saying "this has been a great day!" My reply was "it has been a great day. Why was it a great day for you?" She smiled at me with the sweetest twinkle in her eyes. "Mommy went home to be with Jesus!" Oh for the confidence and peace of a child I pray that I can keep that today and tomorrow as the shell of who Fran was is laid to rest.

I am not sure if I can come back here and post on Fran's behalf. So for now I leave you with one request and prayer please follow this link to the last song we will play at our Celebration of Life for Fran Saturday at noon. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n14NKh9phU I am blessed of God to have had the privilege of being her husband and twice blessed to be the father of our daughters Emma and Eden. Fran leaves a heritage in this world that will make a difference in Jesus name Amen and Amen.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Update for my dearest Fran

Well it is now June 14th and Fran's last post was My 16th. As many of you know who have followed Fran's blog she is very faithful to share her heart and lifes experiences through this medium. It has not been due to her lack of having something to say but more her ability to say what she wanted to say.

The facts are that she is not in any shape to post. The treatment plan she was on was not successful. The cancer found a way to mutate and continue on its rampage of her body. She is currently under Hosparus care and we are keeping her as pain free as possible.

It is with a heavy heart that I am posting for her at this time. We have tried to have her dictate what she wants to say but that has not been possible. A side effect of having liver failure from the cancer is having major fatigue making her sleep most of the day, and then the effects of the pain meds compound that more.

This is so hard for me to write about my best friend and wife. We have had a great life together with so much to be thankful for. The daughter we share is the highlight of our life together and is Fran's crowning achievement and gift to this world.

As Fran's time here with us comes to an end she is confident in the life that she is looking forward to which is hope in her eternal life to come. Her faith in her Saviour Jesus Christ has always been central to who she is but she has never forced her self on anyone but she has not kept her faith a secret either.

I will make one last post soon on her behalf, but for now know that she is at peace.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chemotherapy....isn't it romantic?

See when it comes to cancer, you can never assume anything. The last time I posted I was on Day 13 with one day left of chemo pills. I was doing relatively well with high hopes for a great week off. Boy, I was wrong.

I took my last pills on Day 14 and went to bed that night. I awoke the next morning to a mouth full of sores and serious bathroom issues. Again trying to avoid grossing out my reading audience, I will just say that I spent about 5 days in my bathroom. No fun. About the time that began to resolve itself the bloating began. My abdomen began to swell and I became increasingly more uncomfortable.

I went to the doctor for my labs and to discuss this round of chemo. He said we would have to keep me at this dosage to remain effective. I'm not thrilled if this means my entire week "off" will be spent dealing with side effects. I plan to discuss this at my next visit. The more pressing matter is my ever expanding abdomen. I am now caring about 10 extra pounds of fluid. I can't do anything except stay flat on my back to relieve the pressure. It's pretty miserable.

I am scheduled to go in tomorrow morning to have the fluid drained from my abdomen. It is supposed to make me feel instantly better which is what I am hoping for since Ed and I are leaving for Maine on Wednesday. At first I was very nervous at the thought of them putting a needle in my abdomen to pull off this fluid, but as the days have progressed and I've grown larger by the day, I can't wait to get to the hospital in the morning.

I thankfully have a reprieve on the chemo since Ed and I are taking this mini vacation to Maine. I will be starting my pills again on Saturday the 22nd. Can you hear the excitement in my voice? What a great way to end a romantic get-away....chemotherapy. There's just nothing more romantic.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Day 13 of 14

I am now on day 13 of 14 days of chemo treatment. While this round has been gentler on my body for the most part, exhaustion has been my problem this cycle. My hands and feet just started getting red and feeling burned yesterday although the entire soles of my feet have been peeling off. Gross, I know. My throat is a bit raw and I've had the occasional nose bleed, but as a whole, it's been so much better.

I have found if I want to be productive at all I must do it before I take my morning dose of chemo pills. Within 1/2 hour of taking them I begin to feel nauseous and just need to sit down. Sleep is preferred at this point, but with children in the house it's usually not happening. It's ok though, I go to bed early and try to get caught up that way.

Eating is random at best. Most days nothing sounds appealing. Often if something does, I attempt it only to find out my mouth or digestive track doesn't agree. You can only eat so much ice cream before even that loses it's appeal. I'm looking forward to the coming week when my appetite will return and my body will cooperate.

I also had another Zometa treatment and Avastin treatment this week. They were pretty uneventful although something in the mix caused me to run a fever of 102 for a couple of days. Who knows...it's a wonder all this chemical mess doesn't cause more issues than it helps.

I will have another round or two of the chemo before they scan me for results. I don't have a sense one way or the other about how it's working. My liver isn't as sore, but I have more swollen lymph nodes in my neck then before. We'll see soon I guess.

Thanks to everyone for your continued love and support. I can't tell you how much it means. I'd love to write to you all with personal notes of thanks, but I just don't have the energy. Please take no offense to my lack of response. Life is harder on this end than I convey on this blog. Your prayers and support help keep me going. Thank you.

So I'm signing off at day 13 assuming that 14 will be uneventful. I'll get back to you soon as we move forward in this journey. For now I'm going to enjoy my upcoming week off hopefully not talking or thinking about cancer.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm Still Alive

After seeing my oncologist on Thursday, we decided that it was best for me to put my treatment on hold for a few days. I will start my chemo pills again on April 24 at a lower dosage. Hopefully this lower dosage will not produce such severe side effects this next time around. In the meantime, I am recovering from the 9 days worth of pills I did take. I have now been without them for 1 week. Most of my symptoms are gone except for a few residual mouth sores. I still can't eat my normal menu, but it has improved from the air and water I was able to consume for a few days there.

Today I had my second Avastin treatment. It didn't cause me any problems last time. I am hopeful this round will be uneventful as well. I am a bit nervous to start my chemo pills again this weekend. I am just now starting to feel "better" (and I use that word loosely). It's all about finding the right balance of medications. I know I won't be able to go through this without side effects, but if we can them down to a minimum that would be great. Thanks.

So that is the latest news in the world of breast cancer. I hope to come to you again soon with a much happier report. They've all been a bit dark and sad lately, but you know what....that's been my life with cancer lately.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Body Says NO

Nine days was apparently my limit. If you've been following along you know that I've had some side effects from day one. I reached my limit Sunday night. In the spirit of being real and sharing what it's like to live life with cancer, I want to share the full details. However, since I know many of you in real life I will try to be delicate and not share so much that seeing you out socially will cause an awkward moment for us. :)

My mouth has finally fully erupted in open, bloody sores. They are throughout my mouth and down my throat. This is also indicative of what is going on with my other soft membranes--mainly my intestines. If I have open, bloody sores in my mouth then I have them in my intestines as well. I received proof of that after going to the restroom Sunday morning. I won't get anymore graphic then that, but let's just say it was alarming.

My feet have now also developed blisters on the soles. They are large about the size of quarters and are on the balls of my feet at the moment. My hands are running a bit behind my feet, but I think they are headed in the same direction. I am also starting to have nose bleeds.

So with all of that coming to a head Sunday night, I decided to not take my chemo pills yesterday morning and call my oncologist. He agreed for me to stop them until he sees me on Thursday. We will look at my lab work, review the results of the bone scan I had yesterday and then decide how to proceed. I'm happy for the reprieve. This poor little body is in pretty bad shape right now.

On a good note though, my liver pain is much less. Side effects=killing cancer...hopefully.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

One Week Down

I now have one week of chemotherapy behind me. I also have one week of chemotherapy ahead of me still. The side effects haven't been so bad. I developed my first mouth sore yesterday. It's about the size of a dime and is on the inside of my bottom lip. Pretty miserable. I am a bit nervous knowing I still have a week of pills to take, but so far it has all been managable. The drug I am on sometimes causes Hand-Foot Syndrome. It is basically where the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands become extremely sensitive. They become red and inflamed and can even break out with blisters. I do have the beginning stages of this. My hands and feet are bright red. The best way to describe it is like a really bad sunburn. This wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to walk around on that sunburn and use my hands for everything that I do. It's pretty uncomfortable. On a happy note though, I am having less pain in my liver. I am extremely hopeful that this medicine with all it's nasty side effects is actually doing it's job and killing the cancer in my body.

Life around the house is still running a little out of sync. I haven't found the balance between resting and living. While I would love to lay in bed all day, I have kids, a husband, and a house that need me. Many people want to help out and I appreciate that, but the reality is that this is my new life. I will always be on some kind of treatment. I will always been dealing with side effects and let's face it, I'll probably never feel "normal" again. So I have to pull myself up by the bootstraps and get on with it. Some days will be hard and I'll probably spend them in bed, but most days I just have to get up and live.

Thanks to everyone for the awesome show of support. I appreciate your cards, gifts and prayers so very much. I'll keep you posted as we go into this next week of chemo. Pray that the side effects are tolerable and that this medicine is doing it's job.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Treatment Continues and Life Goes On

Friday I had my first infusion of Avastin. While the potential list of scary side effects is long, the reality it most people aren't even aware they've received the drug. Thankfully I seem to be in that group. Other than feeling a little run down Friday night, it was business as usual around here.

Dad and Becky have been here this weekend. The girls have been BUSY!! There has been major Easter egg hunting every day. Lots of candy consumed. The girls are so pleased. Pops and Grammy ROCK!

I also started my chemotherapy pills on Saturday morning. I have now had 1.5 days worth and seem to be feeling okay. I am a little nauseated, but I already was before due to my liver being enlarged. I have noticed that my taste buds have already started changing. This was a problem when I took chemo the first time. I lost my sense of taste for weeks at a time. Let me tell you, it sure takes the fun out of eating. I made pot roast and all that goes with it for Easter dinner today and banana pudding for dessert and couldn't taste most of it. What I did taste seemed super salty to me (though everyone assured me it wasn't). So needless to say, even if I felt like eating...what's the point? There's no fun in it if you can't taste it!!

So all in all, I am feeling good so far. I still have 12 more days of pills though, so I reserve the right to withdraw that statement! :)

Thanks for all of the cards, gifts, prayers and support. It means so very much to us all!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Treatment Begins

I am home from my first infusion of Zometa. I won't have any side effects from this drug as it is just used to strengthen my bones. This infusion did require the nurse to access my port for the first time since it was placed in my chest last week. Having been through this before, I knew to ask my doctor for a prescription for numbing cream last week. I applied my cream as directed and didn't even feel the LARGE needle as it was poked into my chest. However, I did end up crying. Today was my "welcome to reality" moment. The first time I had cancer I had this moment as we shaved my head on the backporch. The moment that cancer became my reality. Today it was as she put the needle in my chest. This is my life. This is my new normal.

On another note, we also got back the pathology report today. This sneaky little cancer has mutated. I've been taking medicine for the last 4 years because my cancer fed on estrogen. Well come to find out, the cancer mutated and no longer feeds on estrogen. This is how the cancer has grown and spread. I've had nothing in my body fighting it off. So I am now what is called triple negative.

estrogen receptor negative (ER-)
progesterone receptor negative (PR-)
Her2 negative

This doesn't change my treatment plan. I will still be receiving Zometa for my bones, Avastin to cut off the blood supply to the tumors and chemotherapy in pill form (Xeloda). Basically being triple negative just means that we don't have the hormone therapy options like we did before.

My doctor seems to think the treatment will actually be less harsh than the first time around. Nausea should be minimal. I should keep my hair. I won't have the horrible weeks due to low blood counts therefore no shots in the stomach. I hesitate to say I'm looking forward to this treatment, but if is is half as easy as he makes it out to be---I'VE GOT THIS!!

So tomorrow I will have my first Avastin infusion and my chemo pills should arrive via UPS as well. I also have a follow-up with my surgeon tomorrow to remove stitches in my neck and around my port.

In the world of cancer, it's been a good day.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What We Learned Today

Today I met with my oncologist to learn more about the cancer that has invaded my body. Unfortunately not all of the pathology reports were in to him yet. This is what we do know. On Thursday I will go in for an infusion of Zometa through the port in my chest. This drug is not chemotherapy. It is basically used to strengthen my bones. Since we know there is cancer in my spine, I need to keep it as strong as possible to prevent fractures in the future. I will receive this treatment once a month.

We also learned that I will be treated with a pill form of chemotherapy. This drug is called Xeloda. It comes with the standard side effects of chemotherapy although most patients don't lose their hair. It comes with diarrhea, mouth sores, nausea and vomiting, nerve pain, and sometimes blisters on your hands and feet. Sounds pleasant, huh? I will take this medication twice a day for 14 days and then have 7 days off of it before we begin the cycle again.

The last thing we learned was that we have to wait on the pathology to determine the last drug choice for treatment. If the cancer has the same pathology as my original cancer then I will be treated with a drug called Avastin. This will be given through my port twice a month. It is not chemotherapy either. It is a monoclonal antibody. The short version is that it cuts off the blood supply to the tumors therefore hopefully killing them.

If the pathology is different, then other drug combinations will be considered. We will know these results Thursday when I go in for my first infusion of Zometa.

So it comes down to this: my liver is very sick. We will be focusing on making it better. The perk is that the other cancer in my spine and lymph nodes will hopefully be destroyed along the way.

There is no magic combination out there that will CURE me. The key now is to shrink/kill the cancer that I have and thus prevent it from spreading further. I will be on some form of treatment indefinitely. There should be times that I will be able to "take a break" from treatment if we seem to have it well under control, but that is quite a time from now.

And so it begins...

Tests and More Tests

This last week has been a bit foggy for me. I thought now that I am coherent, I should document everything that I know happened (whether I remember it or not).

As mentioned before, I had a CTscan which revealed that the cancer had indeed metastasized. I also had chest x-rays. I have since had an MRI of my spine and my brain. We will find out those results today.

On Wednesday of last week, I went in for day surgery to remove the lymph node in my neck that was enlarged. They will use it for the pathology of this cancer. The surgeon also placed a port-a-cath back in my chest for chemo. The anesthesia for this was brutal. I came home the same day, but haven't had a clear head until yesterday (Sunday) and surgery was Wednesday! I know that I talked with many of you on the phone, but I don't remember it. Sorry. It was a strange reaction to anesthesia, but we've come to the conclusion that my liver must have had a difficult time metabolizing the medication since it is already compromised.

Today we will go see my oncologist and hear all of the results of these tests with more detail. We will learn the pathology of this cancer and we will discuss his plan of action to get this cancer under control.

As an afterthought, I will be having a complete bone scan on Wednesday. This information will be important as well, but compared to my liver, the lesions on my bones aren't as urgent. So that is where we stand. I will post again later when we return from the doctor's office.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

You Wanna Piece of Me?

I just don’t understand. I did everything that they told me to do. Yet here I sit just 4 days from hearing the word CANCER again. Back pain and the pain/bloating in my liver didn’t give it away. It was tiny little lymph node that just wouldn’t give up. “Here I am. Notice me.” That little lymph node caused me to call my oncologist. The ever increasing back pain made me worry.

Now I know that cancer has made itself right at home once again within my body. This time though it won’t easily be defeated. My spine has numerous lesions, many lymph nodes in my neck and chest are cancerous, but most troubling is my liver. After a CT scan on Friday, we now know that I have EXTENSIVE lesions within my liver. The surgeon explained to me yesterday that there are 8 lobes to your liver and I have cancer in every lobe. Hey, when I do something—I do it BIG!

The many swirling thoughts have begun? How long do I have? What will Ed do without me? The list goes on and on. I am going in for an MRI today to get a better idea of what is on my spine and also to look at my brain. We do not know if the cancer has set up shop there yet. From a symptom standpoint I feel ok about my brain, but cancer in sneaky. It is a tool of Satan. It comes to steal, kill and destroy. My only saving grace and I do mean SAVING GRACE is that I have God on my side. This doesn’t mean that He will heal me (at least not on this earth). It means that He will be with me as I fight this fight. I’m not mad. Not yet. Right now I am just filled with great sadness knowing that my life will be cut short here on Earth and that Emma will have to go through life without me. Even typing those words makes me nauseous. I can’t wrap my brain around that yet. Quite frankly I don’t want to.

So today I will go see if there are any other landmines in my body that I will have to make an attack plan for. Tomorrow they will remove my enlarged lymph node and use it for pathology. We need to know exactly what the enemy looks like in order to beat it. I will also have a port put back in my chest for the chemo that is in my future. Next week when all the reports are in, I will meet with my oncologist to hear my prognosis and learn of the battle plan. I intend to fight. While the prospect of heaven is wonderful, I’m just not ready to go walk the streets of gold yet. I don’t know what the Lord has in store for me, but I know He uses ALL THINGS for the good of those who love Him. There is a purpose in all of this. Good WILL come out of it. While it is hard to see through the darkness right now….LIGHT always defeats darkness. He is my Light, my Saviour, and my Lord.

Let the battle begin.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

You've GOT to be kidding me!

I have happily been able to ignore this blog for many years now. I have given the occasional update about hair growth or medicine changes, but all in all my cancer journey has been uneventful these last 4.5 years.

Everything has changed.

Six weeks ago I felt a swollen lymph node in the lower part of my neck. After 3 weeks it was still there so I made and appointment to see my oncologist. While waiting for my appointment I have progressively begun feeling worse. I am having severe back pain that medicine doesn't help, extreme fatigue and pain/bloating under my right rib (in my liver).

I went in for a CT scan yesterday and they confirmed the worst case scenario for a breast cancer patient. It's metastasized. I have several lesions on my spine, several lymph nodes with cancer in them and the worst is numerous lesions on my liver. At the moment my prognosis is unknown.

I will go in to see a surgeon on Monday. On Wednesday she will remove the main lymph node in my neck and they will use it for the pathology of this cancer. She will also place a port-a-cath back in my chest to make chemo administration easier.

Tuesday I am scheduled for an MRI to look further at my spine and also at my brain. After all of the pathology comes back I will go see my oncologist (probably a week from Monday) and we will formulate our plan of attack and probably hear my prognosis. I am sure we will move quickly as it appears this is an aggressive cancer. I just had bloodwork in December and it all came back normal.

So the big question from everyone is: What can we do? Right now we just need prayers. Until we know how I will be treated and what that will look like we are just in a holding pattern--life as usual.

I will begin updating this blog to keep everyone informed just like the first time around. Please feel free to call, but don't be hurt if I don't get right back to you. I already feel worse than I did the first time around and I haven't even started treatment yet. Your support means so much, but it can be exhausting trying to talk to everyone each day.

It's going to be a long fight. I know the Lord has a plan in all of this. While I don't understand it right now, hopefully someday it will all be revealed to me. We will try to carry on living life one day at a time and enjoying every moment.

Thanks for your love and support.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Can You Believe It's Been 5 Years?!

2010 marks 5 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I won't reach this milestone until November, but a few months ago I started thinking about how I was going to celebrate being free from cancer. In 2007 I participated in the Komen 3Day (walking 60 miles in 3 days) to celebrate the end of treatment and life returning to normal. However, I didn't finish the walk. I wasn't physically up to it. I said then that if I make it to the coveted 5 year mark that I would walk the 3Day again. So I looked it up and decided to participate in the walk taking place in Chicago on August 6-8. My sister Kelli couldn't walk it with me the first go-round, but said she'd love to do it with me at the 5 year mark. So I called her up and am holding her to the promise! She's joining me, so we formed a team: The Rack Pack. (Thanks for the name Kelli.) I began talking about it with my friends Diana and Rebecca and they wanted to walk too! So now The Rack Pack is 4 members strong! If anyone else is interested in joining us, I will share a link to our team page where you can register to be a member of our team.

For those of you that followed me last time, you know that the biggest obstacle is not walking the 60 miles, but raising the money: $2300 a walker minimum. It seems like a lot, but it is such an important cause. Knowing now that I am a genetic carrier of the breast cancer gene mutation only makes my urgency greater. Emma has not been genetically tested, but it is something that we will do in the future. She needs to know her risk, and with statistics at 1 in 8 women being diagnosed with breast cancer she needs to be ahead of the curve. Money for research is continually needed. This research has also led to break-throughs for other types of cancer. I know some people feel like other forms of cancer don't get as much publicity as breast cancer, but all cancer benefits from continued research and trials.

Soon I will begin bombarding your inboxes and mailboxes with fundraising requests. You will be sick of hearing about this before spring even arrives I'm sure! :) How can you feel good about yourself when yet another email or letter arrives? Knowing that you've already joined in my CELEBRATION by donating to me and perhaps even to some of my other team members!!

Please help me meet my goal as soon as possible. You can go to my donation page and make a donation online or you can print off a donation form and mail in your donation.

Thank you for loving me and supporting me and for helping Emma's future look a little brighter that perhaps a cure will be found for this disease soon!