Monday, November 21, 2011

An Unexpected Turn

Not more than two hours after I posted my last journal entry my phone rang with the familiar OU Cancer Institute 405 number.  I answered quickly and heard my Gyn-Onc say that my last pap test came back showing abnormal glandular cells.  What?  I couldn't believe she was telling me this because my letter in the mail the week before said everything came back fine.  I asked her to clarify and cell phone died!  My mind whirling, I ran to find my charger and Billy and I stood and watched the slow moving bar creep across the screen to reboot my phone.  By the time it came up I had two voice mails from the doctor and I couldn't call her back  because the office was closed.

Her voicemail said that because of my history and the fact that I had a glandular cancer I needed to come in and have a culposcopy.  This really knocked Billy and I off our feat that night and thankfully we were surrounded by an amazing community group that did a great job listening and encouraging us to face the next step of this journey.  I did not want to tell anyone, but especially my family.  I was so worried it would knock them off their feet as well, but they were really positive too!

I faced my next Scan on Nov 15th as planned and thanks to lots of prayer the blood draw and the I.V went in the very first time.Although my kidney function was a little low they were able to perform both scans.  I came out of my scans to find my husband, parents, sister and nephew holding beautiful purple signs with words like "faith" and "endurance" written on them.  Next we met my brother and they treated me to breakfast out. My family never ceases to amaze me; they can make me feel special always!  I'll share what else they did for me on the 15th soon as well.  AMAZING!

Yesterday was my culposcopy date.  While getting ready at the hotel a song came to mind as usual, but it wasn't the song I wanted.  A few days ago the song, "One day at a time Sweet Jesus" was in my mind, but this day an encouraging song wouldn't come.  I kept singing the song "When I die Young, lay me in the river".   I knew this was Satan; Satan would know God always gives me a good song so I know he's there.  As I checked in at the OU Hospital to have my culposcopy I was not wanting to do yet another procedure. Everyone was so kind and tried very hard to keep me comfortable and Billy thought it was way too routine for our age.  My IV took a couple tries and really hurt, but I kept thinking "My suffering is so much less than your Jesus".

 The doctor did the procedure and got biopsies where the cancer was before, inside and outside of the cervix and scraped the inside of the uterus. Initial reads on last week's scan were good.  The "hot" spots around where my ovaries where were less "hot" indicating that it was not cancer, but most likely just inflammation remaining from treatment.  The doctor will give me her thoughts on the scan when she calls with the biopsy results next week.  I'm looking forward to this call so we can move forward with our life.

I am feeling pretty good today and I'm so thankful as I really didn't want to backslide too much with another surgery.  I'm happily at my sister's house in Texas for Thanksgiving and will update you when I know more next week! 

Thank you so much for everyone's prayers and good wishes! Our week took an unexpected turn, but we are grateful for good doctors and great friends and family!   We have much to be thankful for!

Friday, November 11, 2011

God does have a sense of humor!

Last night my son and I worked on a school project for his 4th grade class.  He was to do a timeline of his life from 2001 through 2011.  He wrote out when he was born (2002) and when his cousin was born (Breck, 2003), when his sister was born, when he began preschool and when our house burned down! (all 2006)  He went to kindergarten (2007), his cousin fell out of he 2nd story bedroom window on the concrete (2008), his sister split her head open (2009) and that his mom was diagnosed with cancer (2011) and he got to begin tackle football. 

All this printed out like it was no big deal!!!  I sure hope that he keeps this "child-like" faith throughout his life.  What a lot of crazy things for a 9 year old to see as big symbols of his life so far.  The most humorous part was that we needed pictures drawn or glued on to identify each of these historical events.  He had to draw something for all of the tragic events until he got to my cancer diagnosis.  He wanted to choose a picture of me from my facebook cancer folder. 

I ask him if he wanted this one taken after my sister fixed me all up for Alyssa's birthday party. I thought it would be a good one to post on a school project. 

He said, no way.  You look all pretty and healthy there.  I want this one instead.  It looks more like a cancer picture.  I wish he didn't know that. 

I'll go visit this place again this next Tuesday.  As crazy as it seems, the doctor called today and asked to move my appointment to Tuesday morning.  I think God has a sense of humor because as I've been dreading Tuesday as an emotional day, he is now going to have me go have a scan done to PROVE the cancer is gone on the exact day the doctor told me I HAD cancer last year.  Okay God, I know you are in control!  I'm counting on adding a line in Isaiah's timeline next year that says "Mom found out she was cancer free!"  I wonder what picture he'll choose to represent that?!? 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November 9th: They Day It All Began

Today is November 9th.  A day like most others.  It falls on a Wednesday this year, so it began like most other days.  My first awake moments were spent trying to sleep for 9 more minutes between snooze on my bedside alarm. Before opening my eyes I easily found my robe and slippers and made my way to the kids bedrooms to wake them and ready them for school. I was ready and the kids were off to school so I spent a few moments talking with Billy before I rushed out the door to the office.  The day began so quickly that it took me a few moments to remember the date.  I'm not sure why as I've been thinking about it and the playing it over in my mind for the last few weeks.  I'm sure you've had those dates, when something happened that you'll never forget.  I have several in the month of November actually.  November 1st is a great day, where I've celebrated my husbands birthday with him for 16 years. November 4th we awoke to a house fire in the middle of the night.  I found out I was pregnant with our first child Nov 12th.  I've had multiple surgeries in November and my Nephew was sheltered by a mere screen when falling two stories from a window onto a concrete driveway. So many dates, but for this purpose I'm focused on November 

One year ago Billy and I walked into the hospital to have a quick procedure done.  My trusted doctor of many years was going to remove a vaginal lesion in hopes it would make me more comfortable and fix some minor symptoms.  My doctor was not concerned and didn't believe Billy and I should be either. for those of you that know my husband, Billy is constantly "concerned" when it comes to illness or medical procedures! I remember laying on the pre-surgery bed in my fashionable gown with and IV taped to my arm and Billy looking at my as if I were the most adorable thing on earth.  He was worried about me and being the stubborn woman I am, I chose to make light of the situation and hold his hand as I made jokes and relished in laughing with him in our private room of white curtains.  I actually remember it as a sweet time knowing we'd been through several surgeries together already, all mine of course.  Everything always turned out fine and I had no reason to think this one would not.

Little did we know our life was quickly going to turn a corner that would be both beautiful and extremely ugly at the same time.  I would be barely recovered from my surgery to be called to my doctor's office for a personal review of the pathology results.  November 9th cancer was partially removed from my body and so the journey of hope would begin.

In light of it all, God was so in charge.  He was already miles ahead of me preparing the way so that I would see Him in all my days ahead.

"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God.  Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to shom we are accountable."   Hebrews 4:13

"You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." Psalms 139:16

As the first anniversary of this journey is here, I've told my stubborn mind to focus only on the constant provisions that were in place for myself and for my family. The provisions that are still in place as we fight to get back to a sense of normal, while still dealing with appointments and symptoms that constantly remind us life is not the same. 

Please continue to pray as this month brings up many emotions and remembrances for me.  All at the time when my remaining and unseen symptoms sometimes want to overwhelm me.  Pray as I will have new scans next Monday and we pray that the activity seen in June is now gone and that there is nothing else to be seen.

"Let them all praise the name of the Lord.  For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven!  He has made his people strong, honoring his faithful ones - " Ps 148:13-14

Lord, may I be faithful....

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Masterpeice

Exhilarating. Overwhelming. Thankful. Frustrating. Peaceful. Anxious. 

These conflicting words represent my time since my last post.  It's been so long I feel I have a lot of things to say, but there is no way to cram it all into one post. 

To say that this summer was amazing would be an understatement.  I so wanted to LIVE and EXPERIENCE that I pushed myself to seize the moment, but did very little of what I typically do during summer.  I love keeping up my gardens and my deck and patio.  I tend to jump into Fall decorating as soon as August 1st rolls around and I know my neighbors won't stare oddly at my fall leaves and pumpkins in the 90 degree weather.  Somehow this summer, though full of great "moments", was not filled with normal quite yet.  However, I've asked myself if the previous "normal" is what I really want back.  Some of it, absolutely!  Like my full energy and endurance, fewer aches and pains, perhaps the lack of hot flashes and other menopausal type symptoms! Yet, in other ways the old "normal" may not be what I want at all. 

I met a group of ladies recently that shared their incredible cancer journeys with me.  I'll keep the details of their stories private, but one common thread was shared among all women, no matter what type of cancer she had.  There was a new "normal" and albeit it be one that includes new aches, pains and annoyances; it is also one that is full of a new appreciation for authenticity.  It's one that is amazed at God's presence in times of trouble and how personal and intimate He can be.  It is a soul that longs to feel that closeness to God again; a closeness you only feel when you need to be cradled and carried by our Savior.  The new normal wants to hug on our children more often, love our husbands more openly, appreciate our family and friends always.  These are all good changes I don't want to give back.

Earlier this summer I stood in a Colorado meadow looking out at the most beautiful crystal lake nestled in the mountains.  There were wild flowers blooming all over the mountainside and the sun was shining just perfectly creating a 360 degree masterpiece.  It took my breath away to witness how God took such care in creating this view with the perfect blend of colors, textures and depth so that nothing worked alone, but instead complimented everything else around it.  The boldly colored wild flowers might have been overpowering without the soft hue of gray and deep green surrounding it through foliage.  Our bodies are the same way, with each specific part complimenting the other so that all together God created a unique masterpiece in each one of us. One that again takes my breath away as I learn all the intricate details of my cells, blood vessels, lymph nodes, joints and muscles.  It is amazing how when one part is damaged the symptoms signify the toll taken on all the others. 

Patsy Nay

I had my 6 month check-up yesterday and as I spewed out all my various symptoms I laughed because I really don't feel like I'm doing that bad!  The doctor actually said she was glad I was impatiently wanting to get back to normal and that there were things she could recommend to help.  Thank goodness! 

Here are some symptoms I shared and what my sweet doctors are doing to help.

·         Water retention and lack of circulation/ lymph nodes in the groin area feel “bark-like” – Provided me with some massage and stretching techniques to do 3-4 times each week to help move the fluid through my lymph node system where some glands are not working properly due to external beam radiation.
·         Hip and muscle pain – Referred me to a physical therapist to learn some exercises and stretches that may help strengthen and loosen up this area after radiation. 

·         As mentioned my cancer was very hormonally driven (74% estrogen cells in the lesion removed) and I’m also struggling with menopausal weight gain and water weight – Referred me to a nutritionist to help understand what to eat/drink more or less of and the impact it may have on all aspects/symptoms. 

·         I’ve had some very light bleeding with use of the dilator and the doctors found two dark spots on the back 1/3 of  the Vaginal wall and one dark spot on the cervix.  Both doctors believe this looks like new blood vessels that are developing in the tissue as everything heals.  However, they took a biopsy of the one on the cervix so we know for sure what they are.  They will call with these results when they get them.
·         I’m having pain in my upper abdomen and there is also a small area of activity that showed up on my last scan in late June.  They believe the pain could be scar tissue and or adhesions caused from the radiation and various surgeries.  They believe the scan activity is post operation inflammation.  However, they are scheduling my next scan and will get to me with the dates later this week.  I will have my scans done locally.

I feel blessed to have some suggestions as I continue to take daily steps forward in this "new" normal!   God knows all about this masterpiece and exactly what I need!  He created it after all!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Scan Results - June 29th

It has been several weeks and every time I sit to write on this blog I have absolutely no words.  I've found it frustrating and disturbing.  For now I will just share my first words written in a notebook when the doctor called June 29th to share the good results of my scan.

"I find that in this moment the realness of the situation settles in.  I find that I can't shut off the tears.  Why would I cry in a happy moment as this?  It's the undeserved grace and gift that I've been given.  It's the fact that God CHOSE to heal me, for now at least.  I have done nothing to deserve this and I'm humbled that I have been given a gift that so many are not given.  Why?"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Scan Update

Our first day back from vacation Billy and I woke up early and began the familiar 40 minute drive to the oncology offices we were frequenting daily during my treatment.  The drive was quite because we were tired, but also because there were not words for this moment.

As I've mentioned my nerves have not been high while waiting for this day, but on the eve of the scan in the dark of our bedroom we both laid awake much longer than usual.  My family and friends supported me as they always have with words of encouragement nestled around scriptures and written prayers.  After reading these things on my phone Billy and I were hand in hand as he prayed and we drifted to sleep.

I was the first patient Tuesday morning, which ended up being good for a couple of reasons.  First, I didn't have time to think about anything once I arrived, and secondly the lobby was empty.  If you've sat in the lobby of an oncology office it can be both a nervous and heartbreaking experience as there are people there in all stages of their cancer journey.  Some nervously waiting for their results and treatment plan and other visibly not feeling well during treatment.  I find that I want to know these people's stories and I want to encourage them somehow, but everyone sits quietly thinking of their own situation.  I was ushered back so quickly this day it wouldn't have mattered, except for the clear reminder to where I was.

I was so happy to find that the doctor didn't require another CT scan so I didn't have to drink that horrible slimy drink.  The PET scan requires that I have an IV, which had been very difficult after chemo began.  I prayed specifically that they would get it in on the first try and that it would drip.  Sure enough, it hurt as they fed it into the vein, but it was done in one try and I was instantly relieved.  Saline, radioactive sugars, more saline and then I sat in my recliner for 45 minutes as the fluids made their way through my body.  After a required trip to the bathroom I laid down with my arms above my head for the scan.  The next thing I knew a man was telling me he'd help me up and that we were all done.  Prayers were answered as I was so calm I fell asleep.

The images are being sent to all my doctors and I should have a follow up appointment very soon.  I will update when I know more, but for now here are some of the very encouraging words sent to me.  I hope they will encourage you as well.

Is. 46 "Even in your old age and gray hairs I am He.  I am He who will sustain you.  I have mad you and I will carry you through.  I will sustain you and I will rescue you." He is going to sustain you and carry you through to old age and gray hairs! 

"May your healing hand be upon Kristi and may the results bring cheers of gladness when these tests show she is cancer free!  Thank you for your goodness in the midst of the storm."

"You have a lot of love walking with you!  Praying peace of mind for you soon.  Praying with you to hear cancer free!"

Waiting for radioactive fluids to move thru my body.
 Phil 4:6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Praying this peace finds you and you are comforted.  You will walk away from this a stronger and bolder woman and will be a huge testimony for others.  We will be partying and praising our heavenly father soon.

"I prayed from 6:40 - 7:00 this morning that you will walk away from this free from any cancer cells and that God will use this battle in your life to help and encourage others in their walk with Him."

"Praying for a good nights rest for you and peace for your appointment, for both you and Billy."

"I am sitting alone in the love seat in our living room and I was on my knees at my bed earlier thanking God that HE gave us all the assurance and peace last November that you would be alright today and tomorrow and the days of your future."

"Praying for you today and definitely praying for cancer free!"

John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  Jesus started on this journey with you both and He is with you today.  He will finish with you.  Tell Satin not to play with your mind trying to rob you of the peace and joy God wants to give you in this experience. I believe God has healed you and given you the desire of your heart. Given you and your family the opportunity to honor, glorify and praise Him.

"I'm wearing my purple too!!"
Jer. 33:6 "Behold I will bring health and healing; I will heal them and reveal to them abundance and peace." Father I pray this over Kristi and Billy.  Grant her a cancer free life and may they take this experience and live the abundant life you have for them according to your purposes and always for your glory!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Today's Scan

This morning I'm going to get another PET scan and CT scan.  This is my "after treatment" scan to tell us if I'm cancer free!  Please pray for my family and I today.  We all feel very good about the treatment, but will be anxious for the follow-up appointment with results.  This appointment isn't scheduled quite yet.  Thanks again for your prayers. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

8 Weeks Later

It is hard to believe it has been eight weeks since my last treatment.  In my mind it is fresh as if it just happened, but my energy tells me otherwise.  I've been back to work for almost 7 weeks now and it has felt very difficult most of the time.  I realized that I had been putting all I had into fighting this disease and getting through treatment and then coming back to work I had to put all I had into getting back on top of my business.  This left me exhausted and wishing for my bed by 7:00 pm.  It has just been the last 10 days or so that I've felt like it is all getting easier.  This week I've worked all day and then still had the energy to make dinner and then banana bread with my kids.  Yesterday I shopped some after work and then came home to make a birthday cake for my mother-in-law and I could do it.  If you've ever been through chemo and radiation you know how refreshing it is to have the energy to do simple things that once came easily. My hope now is that I can build some strength back in my legs as they still hurt or tire easily with activity.  I'm not up for riding my bike or doing squats quite yet, but I may begin walking around the neighborhood.

I am still waiting to have a scan scheduled.  Oddly, I'm not nervous or uneasy about the results, but I am beginning to dread going back to the radiation office and drinking that awful Pet-Scan stuff.  I should get an appointment mid-June and then I'll follow up with a Dr appointment to get the results.  The great news is that my appointments in Oklahoma City went very well.  Both doctors believe I am healing as well as possible and there are no signs of complications at this point. They both agreed that they would have deemed my exams completely normal , so there was no evidence of this enhanced ridge that has been evident before.  This was wonderful news to Billy and I, as you can imagine.  Perhaps this is why I feel at peace while waiting for the scan, but I believe God grants us peace in any circumstance if our eyes are fixed on Him.  (Isaiah 26:3)  My prayer is that my mind would stay focused on Him and that I would allow Him to lead me as I move forward.  There are decisions to make around medications, follow-up appointments and finances that you could pray for as well. 

Thank you for checking in.  I so appreciate all of you.

Isaiah 26:3
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you,all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Monday, April 25, 2011

One Month Later

One month ago today I finished my treatment plan.  I'm sorry if it seems I finished and then just stopped communicating.  I've wanted to share how things are going, but every time I begin to write the words just aren't there.  Physically I am healing more every day.  My legs were so weak for the first couple of weeks I could hardly make myself get out of bed and leave my bedroom.  My mind was fuzzy and overall I didn't feel good.  Now I feel more like myself every day and am able to go through a fairly normal daily routine.  I think this is partly what feels difficult.  It feels so odd to have my life, and many other's lives, revolve around doctor's appointments, treatments, hospital visits and then suddenly it is just over.  The physical hurdle is behind me, but there seems to be an emotional hurdle that I have to deal with. 

I feel so much gratitude to my Savior as He held me close for 5 1/2 months and gave me the strength and peace I've been able to carry most of the time.  I'm grateful to my husband who has held our life together and provided as much normal as possible for our children.  I'm grateful to so many who have given us the gift of prayer along the way; and to those of you who have helped with practical things like meals, gas cards, cash, child-care, housekeeping, groceries and paper goods.  I know without a doubt this process was much easier because you were willing to sacrifice and help us get through it. So when I start to feel frustrated, impatient or discouraged I've realized it is because there is  no closure.  Perhaps this is an odd way to feel after going through so much and being on this side feeling pretty good, but I've realized I'm just waiting to hear "You are cancer free!" These words will help bring closure to all of this in a way that allows me to celebrate and get over this mental hurdle!

I go back to Oklahoma City this Wednesday to meet with my Rad-Onc and Gyn-Onc there.  They previously told me that I would need to wait at least two months for the inflammation in my body to go away.  If there is inflammation the scan could show a false positive for cancer.  I know that my body isn't healed yet because of many little symptoms I deal with each day, but hopefully they'll give me a better idea of how things are going this week.  I'll update more after this appointment, but in the mean time wanted to let you know I'm doing better every day and greatly appreciate all your notes and cards asking about us.

Friday, April 1, 2011

It's Because of You!

A high school friend gave me this adorable purple book with the encryption "Believe" on the front cover.  This is a book of inspirational quotes and one many are familiar with by Mother Teresa.

"I know God won't give me anything I can't handle.  I just wish He didn't trust me so much."

There's another quote by Bruce Barton.

"Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared  believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance."

Going into my treatment last week I knew that my mind would be tested.  I would lie alone in a room, while in pain and discomfort, and battle many emotions, thoughts, ideas. I know the verse in 1 Cor 10:13 that says God will give me what I need to endure anything that tempts me.  In this case God would need to give me control of my mind so that Satan could not make it his playground. 

I don't know if you've ever been alone with your thoughts during a difficult time and realized how Satan can play with our minds to infiltrate doubt, worry, fear, discontentment, self pity, etc.  Usually when this has happened to me I've been able to get up and go play with the kids, work on a project, piddle in my garden.....anything to get my mind busy on something else.  This was not the circumstance where I could run away.  I had to depend on the foundation of my faith  and the belief that this faith was superior to my circumstance.  It was a circumstance that God did not save me from; He allowed me to face it for whatever reason.

Right before my treatment began, at about 2 pm a week ago Tuesday my husband and sister, Amy, kissed and hugged me good-bye.  As I watched them walk away I thought I might not be able to breath.  They were both so upset and I knew it was harder on them than I.  They had to walk away and go on with normal life as they pictured me there.  I put on my brave face as the doctor explained how she was activating my internal radiation.  My husband drove to his parents house to care for our children.  Amy made the 3 1/2 hour trek home where she posted on my blog the details of Day 1 and put out a prayer challenge.

As I checked my phone I didn't realize this prayer challenge was in place, but I continued to get e-mails from people committed to pray for me and sending encouraging words my way.  All through the first night I read over these verses, words, commitments.  At 4:00 am my mom texted, saying "we're up, if you want to call".  I called right away and mom told me about the prayer challenge on my blog.  I watched your words roll in over the next two days via my blog comments and facebook and I know that my faith was strengthened to endure the 47 hours of treatment.  My spirits were lifted so I could smile and visit with the nurses and doctors that stopped in occasionally.  My hope was restored and renewed as I kept my mind focused on our Savior and His work through you.  It's because of you and your prayers that this treatment was easier than I expected.  If I could repay you I would, but for now all I have is a very humble and heartfelt...thank you!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Regaining Strength

We just want to keep you all up to speed on how Kristi is doing. She is regaining strength. She has improved as far as walking a bit by herself and her temperature is back to normal. She is having discomfort with sitting and certain movements, has waves of nausea, and she's dealing with heat flashes. She is not shaky like yesterday though. She feels better knowing that there isn't any immediate concern for her health. She just needs to continue to heal and we pray she get's better each and every day.

Thanks for all the love, support, and prayer.
~Katy (sister)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Update on Prayer Requst

Update -- Sunday 1:00am
As of now we do know that her hemoglobin is up to a 9
Urine culture and blood culture will come back in two days to show if there is an infection in the blood or bladder but no UTI's or other infections that would be indicated in these two tests. 
There seem to be no visual signs of fistulas (holes between rectal and vaginal walls) or abscesses.
Her white blood cell count has improved well enough that they don't believe they need to keep her there for monitoring while she fights off an infection.
Her Temperature is at a 99.9 so it's not increasing
They are waiting to do chest x-rays (my assumption is that they are looking for pneumonia)
After the chest x-ray she will be allowed to go home to rest. 

Thank you for praying and continuing to pray for her. Please continue praying that there is no infection from the internal radiation. I can't say that I feel confident they've ruled that out. Obviously her body is fighting off something to have a temperature and she continues to feel very weak - which could still be from low hemoglobin numbers.  We are all grateful that as the local doctor put it - there are no visual signs of the more serious things. However these doctors are not at all familiar with Kristi's most recent treatment of interstitial Brachy radiation so that leaves us with some discomfort but continuing to walk by faith and trust God in All things at All times. 

Thanks again for your prayers and we will continue to keep you posted,  
In the Grip of His Grace and Mercy,  Amy


Saturday Night:  8:00 p.m.

Kristi has been in a lot of pain today and is running a high fever.  Her Dr. in Oklahoma City has told them to go to the local ER and that they may have to return to OKC.  Please pray for them as this is causing great anxiety and the travel is not easy on Kristi.  Pray against infection due to her internal radiation treatment.  Pray for a calm spirit for Billy as he cares for her amidst his own anxiety.  My brother Joshua is with them.  We will keep you posted.

Thanks again,  Danina

Friday, March 25, 2011

A day to celebrate.....

Worship the Lord with Gladness, 
come before Him with JOYful songs
Know that the Lord is God, 
it is He who made us and we are His...
Enter His gates with Thanksgiving and His courts with Praise
Give Thanks to Him and Praise His Name,
For the Lord is Good and His Love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations
Psalms 100:2-5

Today we celebrate that the treatment is over (they removed the needles and radiation yesterday at 1:00) and currently she is waiting on a wheelchair (for an hour now!!) to carry her out of the hospital and head for home!  One thing Kristi said early on is that this cancer would not steal her JOY!  This is one thing that was noted by many of the professionals who worked with her a long the way as well as many of us who know and love her. Today is definitely a day of Joyful celebration. She is on the homeward stretch.  

Below are some pictures I thought you might enjoy!
She texted this picture to her family stating "No more Jello for me! I'm first class now with full menu room service"
This looks much tastier than jello, popcicles, and chicken or beef broth!

This morning before checking out they had to remove her pic line and make sure her blood was able to clot and then she was able to shower, a welcome sight after days of laying in that bed I'm sure, and then head for home.  They did take more blood tests and her hemoglobin is still low - at a 7.8 and they look at blood transfusions when hits in the 6's. So this is still an area for prayer. It is not low due to blood loss so they believe it is just due to a major shock to her body and therefore the red blood cells were not keeping up as they should. She should notice within 10-14 days that they have rebuilt themselves back up but if not she'll have to have her blood levels taken again.

She will have a follow up with both of her doctors in about a month to make sure she is healing okay and then in two months they will do another PET scan to compare it to the first and make sure all cancer is gone. 

This morning Danina texted her
Hebrews 10:23
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for He who promised is Faithful

In which she responded: Thank you for sure. We are thankful for the huge amount of support given to Billy, the Kids and I and such amazing nurses and doctors that made this as easy as possible. 

Kristi's doctors were amazing and very compassionate. One of them rubbed her legs down when they were itching so badly from the allergic reaction to the narcotics and the other came in and rolled her on her side for a few minutes when her bum was going numb from laying on it all the time. Not things Doctors have to do but certainly just examples of how they showed compassion towards her.

In Kristi's words... she says sometimes she wants to say Woo Hoo  this is over!....and then the next minute the reality can seep in that for two months she will have to wait to know for sure that the cancer is gone!  So for now we hold Unswervingly to our faith... Faith is being sure of what we Hope for and certain of what we do not see (Heb 11:1). 

Thank you from all of us for your prayers and for continuing to pray that satan cannot use the what if's to creep in and rob her of her Joy while we wait to hear that she is Cancer Free!

Well done to my good and faithful sister! 
With JOY, AMY (for us all)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

43 Hours and Counting

Kristi has completed 43 hours of her treatment and will be unhooked from her radiation at 1:00 today.  They will then remove the radiation needles and she will begin her journey of recovery. The Dr. told her yesterday that she feels very good about this treatment for Kristi and believes they will beat her cancer with it.  However, they will have to wait about two months until the swelling goes down and all the radiation sores have healed for them to be able to do another PET Scan and compare it with her previous scans.  You can pray for Billy and Kristi and the family as we wait for this news.

Billy was able to stand outside the door and see Kristi for 10 minutes yesterday and was so grateful to see her personally.  He is tired as he hasn't been able to sleep well as you can imagine.

Kristi's allergic reaction to the narcotics continues, but the benedryl has helped and has enabled her to pass some of the time with more sleep.  Kristi has a new appreciation for those who talk about "bed sores" as laying on her back has really taken its toll on her rear and back and legs.  Kristi's Dr. removed one needle yesterday that had slipped through the vaginal wall to the rectum in order to ease some of her physical pain.

She said outside of blurry vision, major cotton mouth and itching from the pain meds, and only being given a liquid diet for three days, she is doing pretty well considering the circumstances. It has been quite entertaining to try and figure out how to lay flat on her back and somehow receive a tray of all liquids from a nurse who is a distance away handing her the tray while hiding behind the protective radiation wall. A few spills have occurred and Kristi said she may never eat jello again!!!!

Her Dr. told her yesterday that she was a delightful patient to which she replied, "It's because I have a lot of people praying for me!"  Her Dr. thought that was great!

Kristi also chose to sign the paperwork and give samples of her cancerous cells and healthy cells for research both at OU and to the National Cancer Association.  Her Dr. told her that the cancer researchers will be fighting over her cells because her cancer was is so rare.  Kristi was not excited to go through the painful process of having these cells scraped off.  However, she has been passionate from the beginning about being part of some type of research because of her own experience with numerous Dr.'s telling her they had very little data on how to treat her type of cancer.

Please pray specifically today for Kristi as she finishes this treatment and as she goes through the procedure to remove all the radiation needles.  Pray also for her recovery as she will have many painful sores internally from the radiation and as her bowls have to recover from being shut down for three days.  She is not looking forward to the 31/2 hour drive home on Friday morning so she would appreciate your prayers for her as she travels as well.  Also, please pray that God will protect her long term from other kinds of cancer.  Being radioactive for 47 hours greatly increases Kristi's chances of incurring some other type of cancer in the future. Pray that they will not live with this fear controlling their present and their future, but that they can embrace each day as we all a gift to be lived to the fullest!

Thanks you once again from our family for your support and prayers and for those of you who have also encouraged them with meals, gas cards, books and words of encouragement, financial gifts and caring.  There are still a few more open spots for meals on the care calendar if you can help the next couple of weeks.

Galatians 6:2 says "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."  Thank you for the many ways you have done this.

Danina....for the entire Wright and Nay Family

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Specific Prayer Requests for Wednesday

Kristi sent her family a picture of herself and an update this morning.  She is "always" smiling.   I told her she reminds me of Philippians 4:4-9 " Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, I will say it again:  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, WITH THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will gaurd your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

As you pray today, please pray that her blood count will not go any lower.  It is low enough this morning to consider giving her a blood transfusion.   Also pray that her pain medication will give her relief from the needle entrance and from the pain of laying flat on her back.  The pain medication is causing an allergic reaction making her itch on her legs, which she cannot reach so this is driving her crazy.  They are going to give her benedryl to counteract this so she may sleep well ALL DAY!!  This would not be bad, since sleep would help pass the time and she did not sleep well all night. Pray also for Billy and the kids as it is hard to be concerned and unable to be with Kristi.  Pray that the radiation destroys every spot of cancer and that God will protect Kristi from any long term effects from this radiation. 

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth in named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.  Now to HIM who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to HIM be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen  Ephesians 3:20

Thank you for your love and friendship to our family.  We are all finding encouragement and strength in your posts on the blog and personal calls and emails.  God is so good to give us HIMSELF and one another!!  We thank God for you!!  Danina

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

First day at OU Cancer Institute

(If you have checked in here to sign in for the prayer challenge please check the post below this one)
Today I (Amy) was able to go down to Oklahoma City to join Billy and Kristi at her first day at the OU Cancer Institute.  Overall we are thanking God because it is very apparent He held Kristi in each and every encounter of her day. As Katy stated in a previous post - a picture is worth a thousand words! So I thought I would update you with pictures of her day. They are not top quality as I took them with my phone - forgot the real camera!
Kristi started her day off by arriving at 5:30 and being taken back to the outpatient center by 7:00am to get her ovaries removed and the 10 catheter needles put in place.  The doctor felt like every thing looked really good and that there was no scar tissue or obstructions in the way of the interstitial brachy radiation from working
posed and ready for her surgical procedures
After these procedures were completed Kristi was then taken in for a CT scan to make sure all the needles were in the correct place.... this took much longer than anticipated - we are not sure why but the doctors both did great at calling Billy and keeping us up to speed. Therefore we sat in the waiting room and Kristi hung out in Recovery or on the CT Scan table!  By 12:45 we were able to join her in her room.
Here is Kristi in her corner room! We praised God for the Window!! 
We were able to be with Kristi for about an hour before Billy and I were ushered out of her room while the physicist and Doctor came in to insert the radiation seeds into her catheter needles. This was where we had to give hugs and say goodbye because when we returned we would only be allowed to stand in the door way. During our time with her she was very alert and said her pain levels were at a 4 on a scale from 1 to 10. The doctor said her pain levels should only get better from here on out. 
Radiation seeds are now in place and killing the cancer cells! These partitions were rolled in as protective  walls that contained lead to keep the radiation from seeping out of the room.

When we returned the nurse, Anna, and George the radiation technician were taking measurements of how much radiation was being released into the air from different points within Kristi's room as well as at the door.
Such an odd thing! At this point it was quite surreal to think they had to monitor these levels and note the amounts on the door yet Kristi is going to lay in there with it for 47 hours (recently told this would be 49 so praising God for 2 less hours in quarantine).
I know you can't read this well but it notes the radiation levels at different points of interest plus states the rules that visitors can only stand in the door way for 15 minutes per day and that the nurse can only be in the room for 15 minutes per day.
Other signs hung on her door along with a sheet of paper that explains interstitial  brachy radiation
Here will be Billy's perch for visiting. Fortunately the bed really is not too far from the door. Once again praising God for 15 minute daily visits.
We were able to pray in her room while we had just a few minutes without nurses, doctors or technicians. Scripture says we can approach His throne with boldness - and we boldly asked for healing, for God's presence to be real and alive, for peace of mind and for Gods glory to shine through.  I thank each and everyone of you who wrote such heartfelt prayers, verses and words of encouragement on the previous blog. Thank you for sharing an hour in your next few days to pray for her. In reading your comments they brought such delight to my heart and I know they will for her too. She is able to have access to her blog while in her "private" room so please continue to post as you feel led. What a blessing to look at a time and Know someone is praying on your behalf. Amazing!! I love that though we may be separated we are still ONE in the Name of Jesus and can Call out to Him on her behalf.

As you pray , please add to your prayers, that her pain medicine is working. They hooked Kristi up to pain meds through an epidural and a morphine drip. Not long after Billy and I left she did send a text saying she wasn't sure the epidural was working because she was having pain in her lower back on the right side. It is critical that they manage her pain. They did say she was at her worst and the pain levels would get less the longer she's in there which is encouraging - If the pain medications are effective! Also pray against long term side effects of being exposed to the radiation.
Thank you for joining us in prayer
Philippians 4:4-9 
 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Prayer Challenge

Hi friends and family -- This is Amy, Kristi's sister. I know we all long to "do" something that is helpful for Kristi during her hours of being quarantined while receiving the interstitial radiation and I believe that we can by standing in the gap with prayer. Early on in Kristi's treatment I went with her to one of her external radiation appointments and as she left me in the waiting room to walk back and receive her radiation I was flooded with many helpless feelings but also this raw awareness that I could not take this cup from her. This last Sunday as our preacher was teaching through the book of John he read the following passage...
John 18:11b  Shall I not drink the cup the father has for me?
Previously to this scene Jesus had been praying in the Garden of Gethsemane "My father if it is at all possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will" Matt 26:39 and then again in verse 42 He says "My father if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done!"

God has not chosen to take this cup away from Kristi either but I believe we can go to battle with her and along side our heavenly Father who does all things with a purpose. Let's join together to strengthen her in prayer so she knows she is NOT quarantined in that room alone - May Jesus' presence be very alive and real.

So here is the challenge - pick an hour to pray for Kristi and post your time in the comments area.. To do this go to the bottom of the comments where it says post a comment and under "comment as" click on anonymous if you do not have another type of account.  Then make your post and type in the coded word as directed and it will post your comment.  Lets see if we can stand in the gap and cover her in prayer around the clock.   (i.e. If you pick 3:00pm that means you will pray for her as many times as you want during that hour on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.)  I believe we can get most the hours taken b/c I know she has loved ones over seas praying for her too that are awake when we are sleeping! She will be so encouraged when she returns home to find out all who have committed to pray for her. Thanks for taking the challenge!

Dear Heavenly Father - I know your love for Kristi far outreaches our own, I know you pray for her and it is your healing hand that is going to heal her body of all cancer cells. Tonight I know as we collectively come together you will hear the prayers of the saints who are crying out on her behalf. I thank you that our hope is in you alone and not in circumstances. I even thank you for this "new" technology that is being used to heal Kristi's body. I thank you for doctors and pray you give them wisdom beyond their own intellect. We pray for peace of mind and rest while she "waits" in that room for the healing to take place. We pray that Satan's words of discouragement and defeat would fall on deaf ears and for a hedge of protection to surround her room and her mind. I pray that you would remove all fears and give Your peace that passeth understanding to Kristi as well as  Billy, the kids and all extended family members. You are a Good and Knowing God and it is in You we place our Trust and our Hope and we know that this cup you have chosen for Kristi is not in vain -  we know that your Glory will shine through brightly and may our lives never be the same - may we all be changed by what you've taught us along the journey - its in Your gracious name I pray all these things. Amen.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Quiet Moments

Prior to cancer there were moments that I just wished with all my might that my life could slow down; that I would have that quiet moment to focus on whatever I wanted.  A pinch of time when my family, my job, the demands of life didn't need me and I could soak in the silence.  Now, I find the busyness of life such a blessing.  It allows my mind to be so preoccupied that I can't focus on the unknowns.
Almost two weeks ago I awoke in the night and as I lay in bed my mind began to wonder about this journey  I'm on; questioning if the treatment is right.  How do they really know when only 40 women will have it this year in the U.S?  If my cancer is 5% of all Vaginal cancers then only 800 women get Vaginal cancer in the entire U.S every year.  What if this treatment doesn't work?  What would the next step be?  A radical hysteroctomy, which I do not want to do as they take part of your colon and your bladder.  And even if I had to do this, sometimes people aren't candidates for various reasons.  Then what?  I begin to think about reoccurrance and how the doctors say we can only radiate once so we need to get it the first time.  Well what if they don't?  What if I have a reoccurance and I'm not a candidate for a radical hysterectomy?  What if they don't catch it in time because there is no simple test for this cancer and it spreads to various other parts of the body.  What if.......

That morning I woke up with my stomach in knots not sure how to face the day.  I was overcome by sheer terror of this disease and all that we don't know about it and about my future.  I was thinking about other families that have been impacted by cancer and I felt the need to spray paint I HATE CANCER on the wall somewhere.  I told Billy I wanted to take my faith board and stomp on it.  I felt afraid and small, which in turn made me angry.  I sat down and forced myself to read my bible.  I began reading in Mark 10, which my sister's friend had talked about previously.  Once I began to read, I found another scripture to turn to, and another and another. Mark 10:51-52 says '"My rabbi", the blind mand said, " I want to see!" and Jesus told him, " Go, for your fiath has healed you."  Instantly the man would see and he followed Jesus down the road.'  Luke 5: 12-13 says, '"Lord," he said, " if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean."  Jesus reached out and touched him.  " I am willing", he said.  "Be healed."'  Matt 8:5-7 says,  'A Roman officer came and pleaded with him, "Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain." Jesus said "I will come and heal him."'  In this verse the officer declared his faith by saying Jesus didn't have to come, but just say the words.'  Matt.  8:13 goes on to say, 'Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, "Go back home.  Because you believed it has happened."  And the young servant was healed that same hour.' 

In Matthewe 16 Jesus cast out demons and evil spirits and in all the versus above he healed the blind, the unclean who had leprosy, the sick and hurting. It reminded me of when I told my doctor that my God was really big and suddenly I felt my fear turn to sadness.  Why is it so easy to forget who has authority over our life?  As a child I remember the analogy that prayer and faith is like writing your request on paper, placing it inside a box and forever handing it to God.  I know I'm not the only one that joked about the box going to God over and over with the same request because we kept taking the box back from him.  I realized that I was forgetting that my God is really big and that He has authority not only over my life, but over all sickness, disease and evil on this earth. 

I was also reminded that God had good intentions for my life.  In John 10:10 Jesus talks to his disciples about being the good shepherd and He says, "My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life."  In Rom 8:31 you find " What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?"  In a book I'm reading there is a quote that puts these two versus in perspective for me.....If you could hear the Lord praying for you in the next room, you would not fear a thousand enemies!  Heb 7:25 says that God prays for me and now I know that He is "for me" and he wanst to "give me a rich and satisfying life."  I cannot imagine what He is asking on my behalf, but I don't believe it includes sheer terror of the path He's chosen to give me.

I am reminded of this tonight, because the busyness of life is not present and I am once again alone with my thoughts for just a little while.  Immediately my mind begins to wonder about my treatment next week.  I begin to walk through the risks involved with this procedure; I wonder how I'm going to handle the discomfort and the long days alone.  As soon as I think I'll give way to my wandering thoughts I remember that I have a really big God who has authority over my personal cancer journey.  He wouldn't want me to waste my quiet moment being afraid.

In John 9 Jesus heals the blind man and the disciples ask him why the man was born blind to begin with.  Jesus answers in verse 3 saying, "It was not because of his sins or his parents sins.  This happened so the power of God could be seen in him."  A sweet man I've not even met told me that my journey reminds him of the children's song This Little Light of Mine. He is so right! There is no need to wonder why this happened to me?  I know that no matter what the future holds my purpose on earth is to glorify God just like this sweet childhood song reminds us.

So here's a little different version I heard on the radio the other day.  It seems just perfect for my quiet moment right now.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Time to go to OU

After several calls with my gyn-onc and rad-onc at the OU Cancer Institute we've finally got some answers. 

They did compare my CT scan with the PET scan from before treatment and the great news is that the mass is gone!  The treatment is working thus far and certainly I need to take a minute to celebrate this news!  However, there is still cancer in the vaginal wall on my right side.  The doctor first called to say there was still an "enhanced ridge", which after hanging up I freaked out about.  In my mind, I thought that sounded like the mass was still there and if that was the case how could the treatment be working?  I called the rad-onc back to ask more questions and learned that what they see now is a thickening of the vaginal wall where the mass was previously growing.  There are abnormailities present in the glands and tissue of that wall, which tells them that there is still cancer there.  Regardless if there is or is not, the next step for the highest cure rate and the lowest reoccurance rate is still clear.  I have to go forward with the Interstitial Brachy Therapy. The wall is over .5mm which means I am not a candidate for the cylinder type internal radiation.  I've written about Brachy Therapy before, but here is my specific plan.

Monday; 3/21 -  Arrive for pre-op at OUCI (OU Cancer Institute) - Be on a liquid diet all day.
Tuesday:  3/22 - Arrive at pre-op at 5:30 am; surgery begins at 7:00 am where they will place 20 needles into the vaginal wall while I am under anesthetics.  Once I wake up they will take me for x-rays and a CT scan to ensure the needles are placed exactly where they need them.  Next, they will take me to a quarantined radiation suite, as they call it, and the rad-onc will attach small cathedar size tubes that will begin to feed radiation seeds directly to the vaginal wall.  They will give me a cathedar and some meds to stop my bowels.  I will continue a liquid and soft foods (like Jello) diet for 49+ hours once I'm radioactive.
Wednesday:  3/23 - Continue to lay in the bed flat on my back radioactive.  I will have a self-given morphine drip most likely through an epidural.  Nurses will come in to check vitals and bring liquid meals.  The rad-onc will come twice per day to check on me and ensure there is no infection. My husband will be allowed to come stand at the open doorway once per day for 10 minutes. Noone will stay in the room for more than 10 minutes at a time so that they are not exposed to the radiation.
Thursday:  3/24 - Late afternoon when 49+ hours are up the rad-onc will come in and remove the needles and the cathedar.  I will be allowed to get up and shower and ensure bowels are working again. 
Friday:  3/25 - I'll be dismissed and we'll begin the long drive home

The main decision I still have to make is whether to remove my ovaries at the same time they put the needles in for Interstital.  I mentioned that the gyn-onc drew blood to test my hormone levels and the result gave me a result of 57 (FSH), whereas the range for post-menopause is 25 - 134.  There are times during a given month that a pre-menopausal woman's hormone reading will cross over into the post-menopause range, but a 57 is low enough this is not of concern.  We can safely say my ovaries on not functioning and releasing any estrogen.  This is a good thing based on my particular situation, but there is a 25% chance that they can repair themselves and begin functioning at some level in the future.  For my own peace of mind I need to have them out and to have a surgery more than 6 weeks after radiation is risky. The organs and tissues in the radiation path are not only fragile, but scar adhesions begin to form between the organs and this causes high risks.  I can either go through both surgeries at once or I can have two surgeries over a 3 week period.  I'm really leaning toward getting both done at once as of now.

A lot of information here I know, but want to keep many of you following closely up to date. 

Please pray for peace of mind leading into treatment and during treatment; not only for myself, but for my husband and children, family and friends.  Next week is Spring Break for my kids and I'll be in the hospital for four days where they are not allowed to come visit me.  I believe that this is necessary for my long term well-being and I also believe that I won't really be alone in that room.  There is One that never leaves me! 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Best Day I've had

Its been 18 days without chemo and 13 days without radiation and today was by far the best day I've had in a very long time. Physically some energy is coming back and today that lasted into the evening.  My mind is clearer allowing me to work more.  My pain is becoming less and less, which is helpful in more ways than you know.  I am getting headaches in the late evening and waking up with horrible headaches in the morning for some reason.  My strength is a far cry from where it should be; its noticeable most when I pick up my little 16 month old nephew and I can feel my legs weaken beneath me.  Overall though, I'm feeling so much better.  Thank you to so many of you who have reached out to see how I'm doing. 

I did receive a call from the doctor saying that my MRI showed there is still cancer, but it has shrunk.  The actual mass that was seen previously is gone, but the vaginal wall shows what they are calling an "enhanced ridge" which means there are still abnormalities in the tissue and glands and the wall is thicker than it should be.  Because of this the rad-onc does not believe I am a candidate for the cylinder internal radiation.  I'll have to do the interstitial brachy therapy.  However, they are still presenting my case to the tumor board tomorrow and will discuss how many days the procedure will take and if I can have my ovaries removed at the same time I'm under anesthetic for them to put the needles in. They'll also choose a date for the week of the 14th or the 21st.  I've asked them for next week if their schedules will allow it.  I assume I'll know more details on Friday morning. 

Good night all....

Thursday, March 3, 2011

OU Cancer Institute Appointment Update

After four hours of driving yesterday morning Billy and I arrived at the OU Cancer Institutee in Oklahoma City.  I had an appointment at 12:30 for an MRI.  This scan was to be used as a preparation tool for the Interstitial Brachy Therapy (internal radiation) that I am to have done as the next part of my treatment plan.  By 12:45 I had changed into a gown and had a large plastic piece strapped over my abdomen and to the table I laid on.  I had contrast material put in my body to help decipher the scans better and then they put the table and myself inside the closed tube to be scanned.  Funny thing is that they gave me some headphones to listen to music while I lay there for the next 90 minutes, but there is no way you can hear that music.  If you've ever had an MRI you know those machines make a bunch of loud beeps and buzzes the entire time it scans and the tech's voice comes through the headphones loudly to tell you what is happening and when to breath or not breath.  It was a long process that I realized ended at 2:15 when I was supposed to be to a doctor appointment at 1:00 and another at 2:30.  The great news is that they work really well together there and everyone adapted to have us seen by both doctors and finished a little after 5 pm. 

I saw the radiation oncologist (Rad-Onc) first.  She specializes in Interstitial Brachy Therapy and although she needs much more time to really study my scans she believes I've had a good response from the treatments so far which has caused the vaginal wall to be less thick.  This causes some concern that there isn't enough strong tissue for the 20 needles required in Interstitial to hold on to so she is questioning whether we should do a cylinder treatment instead.  I don't know a whole lot about the cylinder treatment, but it is possible that I wouldn't have to spend the night quarantined with this type of treatment.  I tried not to get my hopes up as I am mentally prepared at this point to do the Interstitial and be quarantined for 72 hours if needed.

The next appointment was with the gynecology oncologist (Gyn-Onc).  She had not had a chance to study the scans yet, but based on her exam she believes there is enough tissue to do the Interstitial.  So, we have a debate here.  She recommended that her and the Rad-Onc take my case to the tumor board to be reviewed by all 9 Gyn-Oncs and the rest of the team.  Again, I heard that my case is not common and the more heads around it the better.  The tumor board will meet on Thursday, 3/10 so I won't hear anything until after that.  However, its possible that they will start the treatment of choice on Monday 3/14.

The Gyn-Onc also discussed the removal of my ovaries and although she said she would remove them if it was her, she also said she has lost the human side of this and is more focused on the highest cure rate and the lowest recurrence rate causing her to go to the extremes at times.  She did suggest that they draw blood for a hormone test to see if I am producing estrogen at all right now because my ovaries were in the route of radiation and I've had symptoms of menopause already.  The reason they would want to remove the ovaries is because the stain that was done on the removed lesion came back as 74% estrogen cell positive.  This means this is a hormonally driven cancer.  In breast cancer patients they would remove the ovaries if the test came back 10% positive, but of course they have no statistic for my cancer so it is my decision.  I agreed to do the hormone test and we'll hear back in 7 - 10 days to help make this decision easier.

It was a long day with very few real decisions or a concrete plans at the end of it.  However, I know there were so many prayers lifted up for me because everything went much smoother than expected.  I started to feel better in the afternoon with my headache, energy and stomach.  It was still a physically painful day and exhausting process, but I had it in my mind it would be much worse than it thank you.  We have a God that hears the prayers of many and cares.  That is such a comfort to me.

Here are some verses I said over and over in my mind yesterday.

"Be strong and courageous.  Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.  He will not leave you or forsake you."  Deut 31:6

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future".  Jer 29:11

It was so encouraging to me to know that my God was with me always and that he doesn't have plans to harm me, but wants to give me HOPE and a FUTURE!  He wants that for you too and I hope you are encouraged by that as well!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

108 Days

Today marks 108 days since I sat in the doctor's office and heard the have cancer.  In some ways it feels like just yesterday, but in many it feels like forever ago. 

The days of time stealers are over.  I added up all the time for driving and appointments over a week during treatment and we've been spending 25 hours per week driving and getting treatment.  That is a lot of time that my husband and family has given to me!  Thank you so much for your sacrifice. 

Today Billy and I are driving to the OU Cancer Institute so that I can have an MRI and see the Rad-Onc and Gyn_Onc that will oversee my Interstitial Brachy Radiation.  I am not feeling good today as I worked for 8 hours yesterday at the office and overdid it some while my boss was in town and projects were due.  Today my head is throbbing, my body is tired, I'm weak and shaky.  The side effects from radiation has caused irritation to my bladder and colon.  Its also caused blistering on the skin.  The one thing I am celebrating is that I have not had to take an anti-nausea pill since yesterday morning.  It has been 10 days since my last chemo and I'm hoping the side effects of that are wearing off. 

Please pray for safe travel and that my doctor visits go as smoothly as possible today.  I better run...Billy has started the car.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Loving Her...

My name is Katy and I am Kristi's baby sister. I have walked very closely in this cancer journey with her and that IS a true blessing. I very easily could have missed out on being here for her but GOD had other plans. He knew what my husband and I didn't while making a very hard and stressful decision to move. We recently moved here from Austin, TX and during the transition of the move she offered that me, my husband, and my son live with her and her family. We found out she had cancer shortly after we moved and I was so grateful that I could be with her. I have been mostly a care taker of the house and her kids while this is going on and not so much of the one that takes her to appointments. While this is a form of supporting her it definitely does not feel the same as supporting her at her appointments. I waited patiently for my turn and with my sister Amy's help babysitting my son I was able to go to what was going to be her last Chemo appointment. (Although we didn't know that at the time.)  I took Kristi's big camera and told her that we were going to document "chemo day"! I have a passion for pictures and all that they can share with people. Not only do they let you in to very intimate moments like this but they let you really feel what you see. When I look at the picture at the beginning of Chemo and the last one at the end of the day it breaks my heart. I watched her walk in sick and walk out even more sick. Sometimes pictures are hard to see but it's someones reality. Sadly, it's my big sister's reality. The sister that always has Joy in her heart and all the energy that I wished I had! I remember my mom saying she hated that "they are going to have to make her sick to make her better". When this all started Kristi was not sick, she didn't have symptoms, and sure enough they have made her very, very sick. I have seen it all happen right before me and as much as she wants to be herself she just simply can't. The Lord will renew her spirit and I am grateful that we know Him and that through Him all things are possible.

The start of our day in our matching purple shirts!!  
"When sisters stand shoulder to shoulder, who stands a chance against us?"  ~Pam Brown    


I brought some purple paper and told Kristi that we were going to have to come up with at least three words each through out the day to express how we were feeling!  As you will be able to see the words are much different from the patient to the supporter! My first word was "SUPPORTIVE". I was so happy to actually be able to go to an appointment with her. It made my heart very happy. I know that for her it's such a hard day but I was very grateful to be by her side. 
Kristi's first word was "EXHAUSTED"! Some way to start the day!
It was absolutely freezing in there! brrrrr.......
Well, the words say it all!! Kristi started having a hard time coming up with just one word for her signs!! You can't help what you feel!!! Haha!
So many feelings....not sure which one's to pick!?!?
Very sick and ......
Never been so Proud!!! All that Kristi has gone through and still is going through is such a testament to all of us. She has done it with such courage and strength, even in her weakest moments. She is my "Warrior Princess"!! :)
Kristi, I have never been more proud or grateful to be by your side than during this journey. God knew what this year held for you and our family. He knew that I would be sick with sadness if I still lived in Austin. To Him I am very grateful. We needed each other in this move/illness. I am forever grateful for what you have done for my family to move here. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I love you deeply. ~Katy 
 "A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life."  ~Isadora James