My Cancer Story:
A Journey of Hope
Yogi Berra once said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." Well it looks like, even though I didn't even see that fork in the road, somehow it ended up in my pocket. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself. I had been coughing for about three months. It was a seemingly minor annoying cough. Then New Year's Eve 2016, add blood to that cough and, you guessed it, a visit to the Emergency Room and an overnight stay at Kaiser. The X-ray revealed a 4.4cm mass on the upper left lobe of my lung and a 7 mm nodule in the lower left lobe. Various tests ensued over the next couple of months which kept coming back "inconclusive." A little over two months later, I was diagnosed with lung cancer (it’s crazy but true that non-smokers like me can get lung cancer). I started chemo March 13 for three days straight (called a cycle) - approx. five hours the first day, and one hour each for days two and three. They’re only focusing on the 4.4 cm mass (they’ll watch the nodule, but they aren’t doing anything currently to address it). The goals of the chemo are to shrink the mass and kill any potential cancer cells that might be in the lymph nodes located between the right and left lung lobes. There is only a 30% chance the chemo will work. After two cycles of chemo (both being exactly like the first, with approx. 28 days between cycles), a test will be done to see if the chemo is working. If it’s working, I will go through two more cycles of chemo and then have surgery to remove the upper left lobe. If it doesn’t work, the surgery will be performed to remove the upper left lobe after the first two cycles of chemo and, since the mass will not have shrunk, it will be very difficult to perform. Because of the size and location of the mass, it will be difficult not to incur other risks during surgery (it’s very close to the heart). In addition, if the chemo doesn’t work, they’re not sure if they can get all the cancer. Welcome to my journey. Thank you for walking alongside me. I must warn you, since it’s cancer, and I'm only human, the road may be bumpy from time to time. That being said, let the journey begin...
Look out milkshakes - here I come!: Journal entry by Trish 3/13/2017
I start chemo this morning for my stage 2 or 3 lung cancer. Day one of recovery. Now here's a big chemo "perk." Milkshakes. Yup, you read that right. Milkshakes. In an effort not to lose toooo much weigh during chemo (one lady during our -Intro to Chemo- class said she's lost over 50 pounds so far - If I lose 50 pounds - good luck trying to find me - I'm pretty sure I'd disappear...) Soooooo, I have to "force?" myself to drink a milkshake every day. Ohhhh the misery of it alllllll (sweet misery!!!!).
It's still hard for me (and my husband) to wrap our brains around the fact that I have cancer. I have cancer. I don't even feel sick. I am thankful that I was coughing up blood on New Year's Eve (that's how we found out I have a mass and nodule on my left lung). Happy New Year to me.
As you can imagine, tears have been shed. None so far today, but yesterday morning, truthfully I was a mess. But I'm sooooo thankful for the Bible. God reminded me that His love for me is unfailing. "But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love." Psalm 33:18. "May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you." His love for me and those I love is unfailing. That blows my mind. God, who created the universe, who put the stars in their places, knows me personally and loves me with an unfailing love.
It was years ago. My step-son's young heart sized up the roller coaster before him. It must have seemed huge to his youthful eyes (it was one of those small ones built for little kiddos). His father inquired if he was scared. The response? "No, just my belly is." It made me smile Monday morning when I realized, as far as an answer to the question, "Are you scared about starting chemo therapy?" The answer was, "My belly is."
Two different view points. My husband saw the roller coaster for what it was - small and safe. My step-son saw something that "made his belly" scared. Could it be that God sees the chemo and cancer differently than me? He promises that "all things work together for those who love God and are called according to His purpose." When sin came into the world years ago, it brought sickness and death. So here I am, experiencing the fruit of that sin. But even in the midst of this challenge, there is good. "...we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." The light at the end of this tunnel is hope. True hope found only through God.
Yesterday ended on a rough note. Let me just say, tossing your cookies is not nearly as fun as it sounds. And in this case, there weren't even any cookies involved. Okay, I admit it, I was hoping I would slide through chemo without tossing anything. Alas, sometimes I am a dreamer. The last "tossing" was earlier this morning. I'm shaky but am soooo happy the "tossing" has stopped for now. It's day three of chemo and thankfully I'll have 28 days before I start again.
I Believe In Music: Journal entry by Trish 3/18/2017
Pianos. I am drawn to old pianos sitting unused in big empty rooms. No one around to hear me sing my heart out. That's what it's really all about for me - the singing. I really don't play piano - not really. I create chords and sing and sing and ... To me, music is yet one more confirmation that God loves us soooooo much. Don't you find that music can heal you, encourage you, speak to your heart, bless you, and maybe even challenge you, in a way that nothing else can?
The song "Overcomer" by Mandisa. I danced to it alone in my room after I first heard the news that they had found a mass on my lung. And now? Now that I know that "mass" is cancer? Now it's my "on my way to chemo" song. My husband always finds it on the CD as soon as we're heading to the hospital. I still haven't been able to sing it without choking up. Maybe by the time I take that last chemo trip, but I doubt it.
"You're an overcomer
Stay in the fight 'til the final round
You're not going under
'Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it's hopeless
That's when He reminds you
That you're an overcomer
You're an overcomer"
Awesome encouraging words, right?
Speaking of overcoming - I ended my first round of chemo (three days’ worth) three days ago. Today was the first day I didn't take any "anti-cookie tossing pills." That's a praise for sure!
If you're praying for me, I would really appreciate prayer that the chemo will work (it only has a 30% chance of working). And, if you're praying for me, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Hair Today - Gone Tomorrow: Journal entry by Trish 3/21/2017
I was at our kitchen table. I was in my late teens. You could feel the excitement in the air. Okay, maybe just I could feel it, but allow me some poetic license please. Where was I? Oh yeah. The scissors poised. My heart filled with the knowledge that this haircut would do it. Snip snip. It would bring back "that look." Snip snip. "That look" I had when I was so much younger. It was soooo cute. Snip snip. Long blonde strands feel to the floor, but it would be well worth it because, like I said (you have been listening, right?), it would bring back "that look." The scissors made their final cut. And now for the mirror. "Watch out world, here I ...." Oh dear, that wasn't what I was expecting. What happened to my beautiful blonde hair? What color is that anyway? Some kind of mousy brown? Pixie cut. Even the name sounds cute, right? So what happened here? Can I just say, some ladies look sooooo cute in short hair? I learned that day, I wasn't one of them. The new "do" looked sooooo much cuter in my mind's eye. I'm pretty sure my mind's eye was having a nervous breakdown at this point.
Fast forward to today. It's cancer and I. Cancer deciding that my long blonde strands (thank you L’Oréal, you brought them back to their "natural" color) will once again hit the floor. Me? Cry? Yes. Wouldn't you? Okay cancer, I took a baby step today. 12 inches worth of my long blonde locks, made into little pony tails, fell to the floor and will be mailed off to Wigs for Kids. Kaitlyn from Great Clips cut it for free, since I have cancer. Michelle took before and after pictures. Thank you Great Clips and Kaitlyn and Michelle, you're awesome. The doctor said I will lose it all but someone along the way gave me hope that maybe she was wrong. So, just in case...with hope against hope... they didn't cut it all off today. No pixie cut today. Step one in "Operation Probably Bald Really Soon But I'm Going To Deny It Until It Starts Falling Out And I Have No Choice But To Believe It." At that point I'll get a second cut. Great Clips said they'd give me that one too. For free. And I'll ship it off - I'm guessing with tears in my eyes (pretty easy guess for that one, right?).
I prayed for her and her family. You know, the young girl that will get my blonde locks woven into a wig. Of course, I don't even know her name, but God does. I prayed that she and her family would know God and love Him with all their hearts. I prayed that God would help them during, what must be, such a difficult time in their lives (I hate that sin brought sickness into this world). I prayed that God would comfort them. He can supply comfort to each of us like no other. He is the ",,,God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction..." Complete strangers, brought together by long blonde strands of hair. That's a blessing. Blessings. Those are those things we should be "counting, one by one." How many have you counted today? How many have you thanked God for?
Intentional Kindness: Journal entry by Trish 3/23/2017
"I will love you forever no matter the hair situation." Ten words - put together with kindness and intention - because he knows. My husband knows getting my hair cut because cancer decided to join me during this phase of my life was hard. He knows that there's a 99.99% chance that I'll lose the rest of my hair soon. Very soon. So he put those ten words together, with kindness and intention, to encourage me. And they did.
How different would our day look today if we lived with intentional kindness? "... Love is kind..." (I Cor. 13:4) Intentional kindness for the co-worker who has that annoying habit; the person in line in front of us at the grocery store who looks like this is THE WORST day of their lives; our parents who, when we call them, spend 20 minutes telling us we never call them; the neighbor whose cat has decided our front lawn is their litter box? Intentional kindness. Why not take it out for a spin today?
A Friend...: Journal entry by Trish 3/29/2017
We’ve been friends for as long as I can remember. Sure, we’ve had our disagreements, but we get along okay most of the time. We've been through a lot together, and she's always been there, right by my side, through thick and thin. But now, when I need her most, she's deserting me. What kind of friend does that? I've always been there for her. Even when we didn't get along, I would still give her the attention she needed. I would wash her, brush her, give her some sense of style (well, at least some days). And yesterday, my hair decided she could live without me - or at least big bunches did. Sure she had been slowly leaving me for days already, but yesterday....yesterday bunches came out as I brushed her. Honestly, when my hair first started coming out, I got sick to my stomach - instantly. But yesterday, a LOT came out. I cried yesterday, kind of a lot. Between the tears I cried out, "I don't want to go through this." You see I had already decided that when big bunches of hair started coming out, I would get my hair cut - again - so I could donate more to Wigs for Kids. Intellectually - no problem. Reality - harder - because it means really short hair. Really short. The "you'd better put a hat on because it's so short" short. Off I went to Great Clips - again. I'm sure if you saw me walking from our truck to the salon, you wouldn't have been able to tell how hard this was for me. I pictured the short little bits of hair that would be left. Not bald yet, but definitely nothing that you could call a style. In a word - ugly.
Bebe. I'd never met her. As she read the notes about my hair written by Great Clip's stylist Kaitlyn, she was confused. She could see that I had just gotten my hair cut a week earlier. So, I explained. I have cancer and I was going to get my hair cut to donate. As I sat in her chair, she could see how sorrowful I was and do you know what? She helped me smile. No easy task given the circumstances. She took the time to give my hair style. Can you imagine? When I left, I actually felt good about my hair. I had no idea that was even possible since so much was being cut off. But she did it. Incredible. I call that Intentional Compassion, wouldn't you? She didn't just clip away. She took time to show a sorrowful woman compassion by giving her a bit of style. Thank you Bebe.
Showing Intentional Compassion starts by slowing down enough to see other people. No I mean, really seeeeeeethem. Bebe saw past a stranger with cancer that wanted to donate hair. Through the eyes of compassion, she saw a woman who could face the hardships of hair loss a little easier by giving her some style. Is there someone today whose life could be changed for the better if we slowed down and saw them through the eyes of compassion and then showed them an act of kindness? Are we willing to slow down and take that time? "Be kind and compassionate to one another..." Ephesians 4:2
Please Pray: Journal entry by Trish 4/8/2017
I begin my second round of chemo on Tuesday, April 11. Please pray the chemo will work. If it doesn't work, they will have do a very risky surgery. Thanks so much for your prayers, love and support.
A Quick Update: Journal entry by Trish 4/14/2017
Well. I finished my second round of chemo yesterday. May I just say, YAHOOO!!! I've been sleeping almost non-stop since Tuesday. The challenge for me now is, I often feel like I'm going to toss my cookies (I haven't this time around so far, I just feel like I might at any minute). That makes it hard to eat, and even drink, which isn't good.
Thank you again for all your prayers and notes of encouragement. Both mean so much to me.
A Bit On The Slippery Side: Journal entry by Trish 4/17/2017
I thought I'd surprise my sweetie by getting 'all dolled up' for our dinner date - wig and all. Oh, did I mention I am now the proud owner of a wig? Not the $20 long black 'I want to dress up for a costume party' wig, but an honest-to-goodness wig. I'm telling you, this cancer-thing is taking me places I never knew I would go. Anywho, ten minutes later (or was it twenty? a gal can lose track of time when she's using just the right amount of makeup to get that 'totally natural look'), I surprised my sweetie with my 'totally natural' makeup (an oxymoron to say the least), wig and even a dress. Away we went to the restaurant. Chomp chomp. Hey what's that weird feeling? Chomp chomp. There it is again! Hummmmm, it feels like my wig is climbing up higher and higher on my forehead with each bite. No problem, I'll just pull it back down. Chomp chomp. Ohhhhhh dearrrrrr, there it goes again. So, here I am, in the restaurant, complete in all my 'natural beauty,' with my wig climbing up and up, and me pulling it down and down. Talk about a receding hairline!
A gentle reminder: "...beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30
So, here's where we're at with the chemo/surgery thing. I'm getting a cat scan this Sunday to see if the chemo is working. We hope to hear the results of that scan the next day. If the chemo isn't working, then I'll have surgery very soon.
If you're praying for me, please pray for wisdom for my husband, the doctors and I with any decisions that come our way and for God's healing hand. Thank you sooooo much for your prayers!
I Don't Know How To Do This: Journal entry by Trish 4/23/2017
As my husband and I spoke last night about the events that would transpire the next couple of days, I had to confess to him, "I don't know how to do this." I don't know how to live while I wait to see if I might die - soon. Sunday - today - test day. I got the CT scan this morning. The test will show the doctor if the chemo is working. Tomorrow I will probably hear the results. Is the chemo working? What if the Oncologist says it's not working (there's only a 30% chance it has been working) and I'll need surgery ASAP? Life threatening surgery. How do I do this? How do I spend my day - my thoughts? My mind wonders. My heart wonders. The people I may never see again. The hopes and dreams I may never live. So I asked God to help me when I prayed this morning. As always, He was faithful. He reminded me that I need to "fix my eyes on Jesus"; not cancer, circumstances, percentages... Sometimes I have victory and get my focus right. Sometimes I'm sad as I think about other things, but I'll tell you what. I'm soooo thankful for all of you that are praying for me. Your prayers have helped me with my thoughts at times. This morning I was reminded, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is always faithful. Even when my mind, my heart wonders, He remains faithful. He is with me during this journey. However it turns out, He is with me and for that I am so thankful.
The Most Terrifying Moment: by Trish
I was sitting alone in our den. Terror came upon me like I’ve never experienced before. Not just fear, but terror. I might be dead by the end of the month and the thought came to mind, ‘What if I’m not going to heaven?’ Once I face God in eternity, there are no second chances. Whatever I decided before I died will determine where I spend eternity. “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” Revelation 20:15. Matthew 25 calls it “eternal fire” and “eternal punishment.” I’m an analyst by nature so I analyzed why I believed I was going to heaven. Jesus said in Mark 1:15 we need to “…repent and believe….” Have I done that? Have I agreed with God that I am a sinner? “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. Have I turned from my sin and put God in charge of my life? “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven” Matthew 7:21. Have I believed that when Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the dead, that He made the only way for me to be forgiven of my sins and go to heaven? Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” John 14:6. Have I received that gift for myself? “For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast” Ephesians 2: 8,9. The answer to all these questions is “yes.” Therefore, based on the Bible, I am going to heaven. “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life”
1 John 5:12,13.
2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves…”
The Results of the CT Scan: Journal entry by Trish 4/24/2017
The chemo is working. Thank you so much for your prayers. God said "yes" to chemo working. Tears of joy keep flowing from me. I can't thank you enough for caring enough to intercede for me. Two more rounds of chemo and then surgery to remove the upper left lobe of my lung (which will be much easier since the chemo is working). The mass has been reduced by almost half. Oh my goodness. Thank you God!
More Details: Journal entry by Trish 4/26/2017
Hearing that the chemo is working (thank you again God!) is some of the best news we've ever heard soooo my husband and I went a little crazy with our celebrating. We go to Rick's Dessert Diner for all our special occasions. I decided, since this was extraordinarily good news, this called for two desserts (at the very least it was a good "excuse", right?). I don't mean two desserts for the two of us, I mean two desserts for me and one for him. Ahhhhh, sweet delight.
Some of you have asked for more detail regarding upcoming appointments, so here goes. Friday, May 5, I see the Oncologist again. Tuesday, May 9-11 is my next round of chemo (it's the third round and will be approx. 5 hours day 1, 1 hour days 2 & 3). I'll have one more round of chemo approximately 25 days after the May 9th round. The surgery will be after that round of chemo (to remove the upper left lung lobe). I'm not sure how long after the last chemo appointment I'll have the surgery. I'm hoping the Oncologist will let us know at our next appointment.
What to pray for (thank you sooooo much to those that are praying - I truly can't thank you enough): Continued shrinkage of the mass on the upper left lung lobe. For any cancer cells to be killed (they think there might be some in the lymph nodes). There is a nodule on the lower left lung lobe that they are not addressing at this time (because they're more concerned about the mass and the lymph nodes). We're not sure, but it seems like the chemo is not working on the nodule on the lower left lobe. Please pray that it would work. If it doesn't, they said they will keep an eye on it (in the future, after all this is over). And please pray there will not be any permanent damage to other parts of me because of the chemo.
Add A Teenager And What Do You Get?: Journal entry by Trish 5/5/2017
Can you imagine voluntarily adding a teenager...a 13 year old to be exact - to your already crowded car, loaded with your four kids, driving from California to Kansas? Only a brave woman (or a crazy one, but in this case she was brave) would take on such a feat. Enter Aunt Rita. She and her kids rode in the family car from Kansas to California for a visit. My mother was having terrible headaches, which turned out to be a brain tumor from which she would die later that year. How difficult it must have been for Aunt Rita to see her sister, whom she loved so much, in such pain. In some ways, I think it's harder for the loved ones of someone who is so sick. They want to be able to help but are left feeling helpless. Who would have blamed Aunt Rita if she became consumed with her own life - four kids, a sick sister? Who could expect her to take on anything more? But you haven't met Aunt Rita - thoughtful Aunt Rita. She tucked away her grief and reached out to a man with a sick wife and a teenage girl who had a sick mother. Instead of focusing on herself, her grief, the business of raising her four kids - she reached out in love and kindness. She took me home to spend part of the summer with her, Uncle Don and their four kids. Thank you Aunt Rita for your example. As I walk through this journey called cancer, God has reminded me, this time in my life is not all about me. Just like the rest of my life, it is a time to reach out in love to others. I think that, no matter where we are in life, no matter what we are going through, we need to be diligent about reaching out in love to others. "Love is...not self -seeking..." From 1 Corinthians 13
By way of update: We spoke to the Oncologist today. Spoiler alert - we went to Rick's Dessert Diner after that (so you know good news was involved). I still have two more rounds of chemo and then surgery, but, and here's what I'm excited about, she doesn't think the nodule on the lower left lobe of my lung is cancer. She thinks it may just be some type of scar. They'll keep an eye on it after all this is done, but since it didn't show any activity on the PET scan, and it is unaffected by the chemo, she thinks it's just a scar. Such good news!
Oh, and for those that are wondering, the surgery will be about three or four weeks after the last round of chemo (the last round of chemo should be in June and the surgery late June or early July).
As always, thank you sooooo much for your prayers. I'm thankful for all the yeses from God.
Prayer Request: Journal entry by Trish 5/8/2017
For those that are praying:
Tomorrow I start my third round of chemo. If you could please pray that the mass would continue to shrink, all cancer cells would be killed, and there would not be any major side effects from the chemo, I would really appreciate it.
Thanks so much.
Facing Truth: Journal entry by Trish 5/15/2017
You know, one of the strangest, most unexpected things about cancer is, there is a part of me that still can't believe that I have cancer. I have cancer. Of course, when I look in the mirror and see my almost bald head, that's pretty convincing; but still, it's almost like I'm walking through a dream. Is this really my life right now? But, regardless of my "feelings," truth is truth. I have cancer. It's not until we face truth in life, regardless of our "feelings," that we can make changes for the better. Just because I "want" something to be true, or "feel" like something is true - doesn't make it true. So, despite what I "feel," despite what I might "want", I am battling with cancer and will prayerfully come out on the other side cancer-free. Whatever God wills. Are you like me? Is there something in your life you need to look at squarely in the face so that you can make the necessary changes to heal that area of your life? Do you, like me, need to put "wants" and "feelings" aside, facing the hard to accept truth, so that you can start on the journey of doing what needs to be done to heal? "...the truth will set you free..." John 8:32
How am I doing/Prayer Requests: Welllll, truthfully I'm fighting with tossing my cookies. Yesterday I had the "pleasure" of tossing some and again this morning. Thankfully I'm taking some medication that seems to be helping somewhat.
Can you please pray for my husband Allen? He is a wonderful caretaker but is in such pain himself (he has a very bad back and his shoulder is in a lot of pain).
As always, thank you so very much for your prayers. I see God's hand because of your prayers.
A quick update: Journal entry by Trish 5/21/2017
I truly truly truly can't thank you enough for your prayers! I made it through today medication free, without tossing any cookies. Yahooooooo!!!!!!!
Our focus - moment by moment: Journal entry by Trish 6/1/2017
Walking into a room with groups of people talking - I dread it. I want to walk right back out the door again. It’s embarrassing to me to walk up to a little group that’s already engaged in conversation. Here’s the thing - it’s really all about focus. That feeling of embarrassment comes when I focus on myself (What will they think ofme? Will they like me? Will they think I’m butting it?). It can be so different when I change focus (God, is there someone I can encourage? Is there someone I can listen to? Is there someone I be there for?). To me, life is filled with moment by moment choices of focus. Will I focus on whether or not I think that person loves me, or will I focus on how I can love them? Will I focus on someone’s annoying habit or the positive things about them? Will I focus on the challenges in my life, or the many blessings? Will I focus on the secular or the eternal? “…seek first the kingdom of God…” Matthew 6:33a
Update: This coming Tuesday, June 6, I have my fourth round of chemo. It's my last round before surgery. For those that are praying - please pray the chemo will continue to kill all the cancer cells and shrink the mass on my lung; that there will not be any major side effects from the chemo (currently I am experiencing some hearing loss. The good news is I could possibly get that hearing back when all this is finished. The not-so-good news is I could lose quite a bit more of my hearing, which is one of the potential side effects of this type of chemo); that my hair grows back thick enough for me to wear the funny hats I wear when I sing for kids (like the chicken hat); and for the surgery to go well. Thank you, with all my heart, for praying.
Quick Update: Journal entry by Trish 6/8/2017
Soooo, yesterday was supposed to be the second day of my fourth (and last) round of chemo. I started in the chemo section of the hospital but ended up in the emergency room (don't worry, I'm okay). I had uncontrollable shaking in the upper body (talk about fun!) and that feeling of wanting to toss by cookies all day long. They took some tests then sent me home. We're still waiting on some results, but they know for sure my white blood cell count is up (which could mean some type of infection). As a result, I'm now on an antibiotic, the last two chemo appointments have been cancelled (not to be rescheduled), and I'm concentrating on getting better so I can have the surgery in about three or four weeks (the oncologist wants me well before I go into surgery). Today, the shaking has stopped and my cookie tossing feeling is still there, but somewhat better (every little bit helps). I came across this wonderful verse the other day, "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me..." Psalm 28:7 It's comforting to know that God is right here with me. Your prayers on my behalf mean sooooo much to me. Thank you.
Smoked oysters anyone?: Journal entry by Trish 6/17/2017
Smoked oysters, nacho cheese chips and a chocolate shake. That was lunch the other day. Yummm, doesn't that sound delicious? Okay, maybe not so much. One of the special "bonuses" of chemo is, for about a week after the chemo, with the exception of things like homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, I don't really want to eat anything. So, if anything sounds remotely edible, I try to force it down (one little bite at a time). This may or may not have led to some strange combos. I guess you'll have to be the judge of that....
The GREAT news is I'm finished with chemo (totally finished - nope I wouldn't have to have chemo after my surgery). My appetite for normal food and normal food combos is back (I can't tell you how happy that makes me). I'm feeling good. For that I am truly thankful.
They never did find out why I was shaking uncontrollable in the ER the other day. I've finished the antibiotics they gave me so, hopefully that took care of whatever was wrong with me (I haven't had the shakes since).
Here's what's coming up:
Tuesday, June 20 - CT Scan
Wednesday, June 21 - Appointment with the Oncologist
Tuesday, June 27 - Consult with surgeon
Surgery has not been scheduled yet but I have a feeling it will be the first or second week of July. I'm not sure how long it will take to recover. Hopefully I'll learn more from the consult with the surgeon. I'll let you know what I hear....
The Right Words at the Right Time...: Journal entry by Trish 6/21/2017
I’d love to say I always trust my Lord – I never waiver - but today I wavered. It was something on the CT scan results. It made me go back emotionally to when all this began. Back were the feelings of helplessness – fear. I prayed for God to help me. I was drowning in my emotions. In the midst of this, a card came in the mail. The card said, “Each time I pray for you, I’m reminded that God who created you can put your world together again. That’s why I’m asking Him to bring you strength and reassurance as you lean on Him and rest in His love.” Receiving this card with just the right words made me think. How many times has God prompted me to send a card to someone? Have I always obeyed? If I haven’t, did someone who needed a word of encouragement miss out because I didn’t act? “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” Proverbs 25:11
Update: Despite my concerns, I received clarification from the Oncologist today that the CT scan results were positive. The mass on the upper left lobe of my lung is slightly reduced in size since the last CT scan (the last scan it was reduced by almost 50%, so this slight reduction keeps us going in the right direction). This should make the surgery easier. We meet with the surgeon for a consultation next Tuesday, June 27. The surgery itself still isn’t scheduled yet but I have a feeling it will be the first or second week of July. I’ll let you know what a find out on Tuesday.
Whose Mind is Steadfast....: Journal entry by Trish 6/27/2017
“You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 I love that this verse says, “whose mind is steadfast.” When I start to fear, I must determine not to waiver in my trust for God and His wisdom and will. I love that God is using this time to teach me how to be able to enjoy His peace in the midst of trials. I am truly experiencing that peace as I await what's coming next....
Update: We met with the surgeon today. First of all, he said twice that the reduction of the mass on the upper left lobe of my lung and the lymph nodes between the right and left lobes was miraculous. So, of course, I had to tell him about you prayer warriors! This coming Monday, July 3, I will have an outpatient procedure. The surgeon will be checking certain lymph nodes to be sure there isn't cancer in any of those lymph nodes he's unaware of (because if there is, it would probably mean he wouldn't be doing the surgery - which isn't a good thing). If we're able to go through with the surgery (which is highly probable), the surgery will be Monday, July 10. Thank you soooo much for all your prayers! I'm truly thankful to each of you. As you pray for the upcoming procedure and surgery, I would truly appreciate it if you would continue to pray for my hearing to return (I haven't lost my hearing completely, but it is definitely worse because of the chemo). The Oncologist said that it is a possibility that my hearing could return. I'm praying about possibly doing kids concerts in the future so having my hearing back would really come in handy.
A quick update: Journal entry by Trish 7/3/2017
I'm already back home from today's procedure. It went well. My throat is sore (from the scope they used I'm guessing) and where they took the biopsies (looking to see if there is cancer on other lymph nodes). I really had quite a nice time, all things considered (does that sound weird, or what?). I had some terrific conversations about spiritual matters (which is my favorite topic - "...God, my joy and my delight..." Psalm 43:4). We should hear the results in 3 or 4 days, which will let us know if we can go forward with Monday's surgery. If we're not able to go thru with Monday's surgery, I don't know what the plan will be. Thanks for praying that the surgery will be a "go."
The surgeon said...: Journal entry by Trish 7/6/2017
Can you guess what the surgeon said today? Okay, here's a hint - a trip to Rick's Dessert Diner and the shedding of happy tears. Give up? The biopsies of additional lymph nodes came back cancer-free soooooo that means I will have the surgery on Monday. We're thrilled and soooo thankful. The surgery should take about six hours. I've had people ask if I would like to have visitors. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of that question. I prefer not to have visitors. Thanks so much for asking and understanding. I should be in the hospital one to four days, depending on how the surgery goes. I know I've said it before, but I just have to say it again, thank you all soooooo much for your prayers. I truly can't thank you enough. "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear..." Psalm 46: 1, 2a
Please Pray: Journal entry by Trish 7/8/2017
My husband just let me know he's getting a sore throat. Can you please pray that I don't get sick? I can't even take a vitamin to help prevent a cold because of the upcoming surgery.
Thanks prayer warriors.
Surgery Results: Journal entry by husband Allen 7/10/2017
Trishy had her surgery today, the removal of her left upper lung lobe including the tumor and several lymph nodes. The operation went well. They were able to complete the task via three small incisions, instead of a very large one. We will get the pathology report on the lymph nodes early next week which will determine if this is Stage 2 or Stage 3 cancer.
Currently she is in a private room and is attended by a nurse that only has two other patients. She is taking heavy pain medication, anti-nausea medication, and has a tube draining fluid from her chest. Her vitals are all good.
She is experiencing some issues, however. Her lung is leaking air (hopefully it heals itself) and she is having trouble breathing which they are treating with breathing therapy. She will be in the hospital another 2-4 days depending on these issues and other potential side effects. She continues to have an amazing attitude and is mentally tough. She's quite a gal.
We are so thankful for all the prayers and support. Thank you, thank you.
Trish Update: Journal entry by Allen 7/11/2017
Trish's surgery recovery is going fine. Lots of pain, sick to her stomach, no appetite. All these very uncomfortable conditions are standard for a lung lobectomy. Today she sat in a chair and did a little walking. Her chest tube was removed this afternoon as the drainage has stopped. She still has some wheezing while breathing which should be better in a few more days with continued treatment. Her lung air leak is still present but should resolve itself soon. Possibly coming home tomorrow.
Thanks for all the love, prayers and support. Allen
I'm home...: Journal entry by Trish 7/12/2017
I'm back home. Is that amazing or what?!? As you can guess, I'm still in pain, but I'm truly thankful to be home. I am allergic to many medications, and today I discovered that I'm allergic to one of the meds they sent me home with (add one more to my long list). Sooooo, I'm scratching a bit (even under my feet - scratch scratch, but Benadryl is helping - soooo thankful for that!). I'm still experiencing crackling sounds when I breathe sometimes, but at least it's better than yesterday. I'm thinking it might be 100% better in a day or two (God willing). I'm walking around on my own (without having to use a walker), which is another blessing.
I'll get a CT scan every six months for three years, and then I think it’s annually for the last two years. If no more cancer shows up in my lungs after five years, they will declare me cancer-free. The doctor said that lung cancer very rarely returns (talk about a huge blessing).
I want to thank all of you for walking through this chapter of my life with me. It has really meant a lot to me that you have followed my progress on CaringBridge. I appreciate when you wrote responses or posted hearts to my journal entries, sent cards, sent emails, texted me, provided your support, provided encouragement, and when you prayed for me. I hope that you have experienced some measure of blessing during this journey. I’ve been praying that God would use these journal entries in your life for His glory (surprise, surprise - I was praying for you while you were praying for me).
I’ve learned so much during this trial. First of all I’ve learned, when in doubt, head over to Rick’s Dessert Diner (okay, maybe I knew that before this journey –but let’s just say it was confirmed). Also, I knew God loved me, but I have come to know that in an even more personal way. To truly know, in my heart of hearts, that He has been with me every step of the way, mind-blowing! To see his compassion toward me as He said yes to the chemo working and no to more cancer in other lymph nodes has truly touched me (it would have been okay had he said the opposite, but I’m truly thankful for these yeses). I know that feelings are a gift from God, but this journey reminded me that there are times when facts are in conflict with feelings. At those times, the facts need to be accepted rather than the feelings. Not always an easy feat, but important to apply to life and its challenges. I’ve learned how special it is to receive a card, email, text or journal response from someone who cares. You’ll never know how much your words of encouragement meant to me. It was such a blessing to see prayer after prayer answered with yeses. God is good. Even if He had said “no” to every request, God is good. God promises, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” As always, he kept His promise.
Well, if you’ll excuse me, it looks like I have some healing to do.
A quick prayer request: Journal entry by Trish 7/16/2017
Just a quick update for those that are praying: Currently I’m dealing with a loss of appetite, dry-heaves, and of course figuring out the best course of action for the pain.
Your prayers are such a blessing to my life. Thank you.
This Is My Last Journal Entry...: Journal entry by Trish 7/25/2017
Since it's basically healing and overcoming pain from here-on-out, this is my last journal entry on CaringBridge. I shall truly miss you. Your support through prayer, checking my CaringBridge site and your encouraging words, have helped me so much during this time.
Soooo, I was thinking of naming this chapter in my life "Cancer," but changed my mind. I think a more appropriate name would be, "Walking by Faith with a Compassionate God" with a subtitle of "Cancer."
I want to thank for letting me cry on your shoulder when my hair started coming out in handfuls, for your compassion as I faced the strong possibility of death, for helping me celebrate all the yeses from God, and for walking with me on this faith journey. "...we walk by faith, not by sight" 2 Cor. 5:7
The latest update plus prayer requests: I saw the surgeon today and yes, he got allllll the cancer out (thanks Dr. Peng and God). My X-ray looked good so the surgeon is happy with my progress (me too). I have quite a bit of pain in my left arm and very limited motion. (It was already in bad shape when all this started and being in a strange position for hours during the surgery made it quite a bit worse). Of course there's pain/sensitivity other places too. My hearing is still affected by the chemo, so even though I can hear, chemo has diminished it somewhat. I cough a lot. I'm hopeful that some/all will be better in time. To end on the positive -my appetite is back and I've stopped tossing those cookies (thanks for your prayers).