Thursday, December 10, 2015

Making the Most of This Time

Ephesians 5:16 reminds us to make the most of our time because tomorrow is evil! 
I've put my wig away in a box and been busy seizing the day! 
I feel SO much better with my blood counts pretty close to normal. I've been gathering with family and friends, attending Christmas parades and parties, even a spontaneous fishing adventure in Oklahoma. Isaiah has entertained us with lots of football and basketball. Alyssa keeps us running with cheer and tumbling. 
I am grateful for these moments that will outlive what tomorrow could bring. 


May you seize the day in some big or small way today as well!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Patience is a virtue!

One thing I've been told over and over in my cancer journey is to be patient with myself.  That rest heals the body. Healing takes time. Energy doesn't return overnight. I pass this advice on to others because it has helped me. It helps me to give myself permission to rest, to say no, to ask for help.

Once off chemo about two weeks, I traveled to NW Colorado for my grandpa's funeral. Grandpa was 89 years old and had such a wonderful military ceremony surrounded by the mountains and colors of Fall.  It was a gift to be able to travel and be there for a week. I returned home very fatigued and slept for a couple days, but the energy did not return.  I ended up in the hospital for a partial bowel blockage and an infection.  After being in the hospital for 2 nights I returned home thinking I'd go back to how I was feeling in Colorado.  Wrong! It took me a full week to feel like I could quit sleeping 18 hours a day.  Thank goodness it was just in time for my son's 8th grade football game and all the Halloween madness.  I got so excited to participate again that I ended up in bed sleeping it off....again.

Patience is a virtue!

We've all heard this saying, but what does it really mean?

I think it's used here as an idiom. I know this only because my 4th grade daughter is learning about these at school right now.  Hence, I am learning to be as smart as a 4th grader as well!  With my newfound knowledge I quickly googled this and this idiom means......to make a virtue of necessity, to make the best of a difficult or unsatisfactory situation.

That seems to be a perfect fit.

To me, the lack of energy is definitely an unsatisfactory situation. So....today I'm praying that I can make patience a virtue out of necessity, but also that my energy will be the lasting type...real soon!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Results

Well, not terrible news, not great news. Doctor Said I can have a break and come back for scans in January. But no change in nodules this time. I was bummed they didn't shrink at all after 9 more weeks of chemo. No cancer anywhere else in the body either though, so that's good news. Said the nodules could be dead and still showing, but too small for pet scan to show the "glow" of being active or not right now. He said I can choose to continue treatment, or be done until January and see what happens. Or just do avastin (doesn't allow new blood vessel growth) but he just did that with a patient and there was no change. I think I choose a break and go back in January. I ask him about the growth patterns of my cancer and he said the risk of it spreading to where there is nothing they can do between now and January is slim. Because of side effects he agrees a break for the holidays sounds right. Reminded me we are doing this to prolong life, not a cure right now so a quality of life break is a good idea. If growth again in January I will begin chemo again, but if no growth I can continue a break I assume. We are processing this news and believe your prayers are really helping us face it in the most positive way. I'm sure I'll have harder days, but today I feel more hopeful than afraid or discouraged. I know that the ability to find hope and even joy in the midst of this trial is from God alone. I was reminded that this is not about God giving me strength. It is about His strength in me. Thank goodness it's not about me at all. 

We will continue to pray that there is no evidence of disease in the January scans. (No new spots, no growth of current spots). We will pray against fear and discouragement as we wait and my body begins to rebuild after chemo effects. We will praise Him for this time of no treatment needed!  Thank you once again for walking beside us and sometimes carrying us. πŸ’œ

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

All Done for Today.

Pray at 5:30!

Friends, we are safely at MD Anderson in Houston and asking for prayers for clear scans at 5:30 today! 

Remember this blog post?  Pray Deuteronomy with us! πŸ’œ

Friday, October 2, 2015

Thanks for prayers!

Thank you for the specific prayers I requested a week or so ago. I go back this morning to get a permanent crown placed on my tooth post root-canal. 
My ostomy pain has healed and my reconstruction area is much improved, though that is a chronic problem until God miraculously heals it more correctly. 
I had what I hope to be my last treatment on Wednesday though I don't feel like I can celebrate until after my scans at MDA in Houston next week! We did have some "purple fun" though! Katy got a bit queezy as they had trouble with my port! I almost had to call out "Caregiver Down"! 


22 Weeks, 19 treatments done! 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I wish I may, I wish I might

The other night my family was tucked into their beds and I sat outside looking up at the 4th blood moon and the few stars twinkling in the sky. It was cool outside with a slight breeze and hardly a light on around me.  As I sat there marveling at the view of the night sky I began reciting this anonymous poem in my mind.

Star light, star bright,
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have this wish I wish tonight.
 
It's silly to think I could make a wish, as a child would, and it might come true, or is it? It came to me that the God who created that night sky and the blood moon changing so rapidly before my eyes is not a genie in a bottle, but He certainly is in control of the universe. John 16:33b says, "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."
So instead of a wish to the stars, I ask the creator and overcomer of the entire world to grant me the wish of today becoming my last day of having cancer.  That today, the chemo will just be a routine and all my cancer is already gone, including the KRAS growth gene, so that cancer will not return. I ask God to grant me the wish of having clear scans at MD Anderson next week.
 
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have no more cancer this very night.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Almost Overwhelmed

Last night I became almost overwhelmed.  I had treatment yesterday, and although a light treatment ( about 50% of what I normally get) I never recovered fully from the week before.  I was still feeling a headache, achy body, physical fatigue, distracted, gums bleeding and had to potty frequently!
 
I learn at treatment that my Red Blood Cells, Hemoglobin and Hematocrit are all still low, but White Blood Cells and Platelets are normal thankfully.  However, I also learned that some blisters/sores I've developed and had sent to lab last week came back as Rare Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, otherwise known as MRSA. You can click the link (name) above to learn more and understand who gets this and how to protect yourselves. This is not helping me feel a lot better as they found no white blood cells in the lab sample and the antibiotic they put me on last week "in case" it came back as Staph is on the list of meds my case is resistant to.  So, last night I had to start over with a new antibiotic after a week of taking one that upset my digestive system more than usual.  Anyway, I'll take this for 10 days and I've already had this problem and been talking to the doctors for about 17 days. 

Anyway, my skin around my ostomy stoma was in such terrible pain last night that I couldn't bend well or walk without it hurting.  For those without an ostomy I know you cannot envision what the situation is with this, but just trust me its not pleasant and that was wearing on me at bed time too.  I also baby my bum - as some of you notice me sitting on the softest chair in the room and carrying my own extra soft cushion to the sports arenas - but my reconstruction in 2013 didn't ever heal right and I've had secondary surgeries and procedures trying to get it to re-heal without pain.  It is worse some days than others and its been painful the last several weeks too so that wears on me as well.
 
I think at times God spares us emotion so that we can handle the trial we've been given to live daily. I've been experiencing God's Grace and not living in fear or sadness, but last night I had a good cry and really felt the desperation to feel better and engage in life with energy again.  I want to get such good results at my scan in two weeks and have a break from treatment, but at the same time I feel guilty knowing others have been told they can have no more treatment and are wishing there was still an option for them.  I am burdened for those fellow fighters as I'll see them all around at the cancer centers, but I know each situation is in God's hands.  He makes the final decision for what is best in bringing more people closer to him or refining each of us.  I am grateful that I still have options with Stage 4 Metastatic Cancer.  Praise God for that!
 
So for now, please join us in prayer
 
  • Praise God that I have almost been here 5 years since diagnosis and still have treatment options because my body is staying pretty strong.
  • That the Rare MRSA Staph doesn't get worse, the painfulness of it goes away, and it doesn't travel anywhere else in me or to my family members.
  • That God will show us favor and give us a great scan report showing NED (No Evidence of Disease) on October 6/7.
  • That I will get a break from chemo and avastin treatment after this appointment in Houston.
  • That my skin around my ostomy stoma will heal quickly.
  • That my reconstruction area from my surgery in January 2013 will stop hurting and miraculously heal without leaving chronic pain eventually.
  • That my headaches will go away
  • That I will not feel survivor's guilt if I get great news at MD Anderson, but that I will be able to rest in the results no matter what and continue to find ways to glorify God in this journey.



    From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

GI Jane & Pink Boxing Gloves

I'm reminding myself that God loves me this morning.  I am tired of waking up on Wednesday mornings knowing that I will go face that dreadful chemo and my body will not like it and feel badly afterwards. 

It is probably worse because I've never fully recovered from last week's treatment, plus I'm getting to the end of these rounds and just want to go have my scans done and know if I get a break from treatment or not! 

I'll tell you a funny story about last night.  I put on my pink boxing gloves with my short & buzzed GI Jane hair showing and a hooded robe.  My family all thought I was crazy, but it lightened everyone's mood including my own.  Sometimes the whole family needs a boost to keep standing back up for the next round.

God - We need a knock-out for all and any active cancer again today.  May our opponent not be able to get back up this time.  May he (cancer & satan) be defeated in this round once and for all. 

Romans 5:5 says, “This hope will not lead to disappointment.  For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

Holy Spirit - May we go to battle with joy in my heart and a hope for victory over cancer that does not lead to disappointment. 
Amen.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Blessings in Disguise


After 90 minutes in the dentist chair last Thursday and an expected 2 1/2 hours this afternoon finishing up a root canal an being fit for a crown.....I'm still so grateful to have gotten a week off treatment!  I say this before my appointment today....but I think it will still stand later tonight!

What a gorgeous week-end!  Perfect weather for my in-laws to visit, an early morning watching my son play football and my daughter try out for a competitive cheer team.  We had a trip to the Arkansas White River and loved seeing the movie, War Room (Go. See. This. Movie.), with friends after a great church service.  On top of that we had two "down to the last minute" football team wins that entertained our family. Shall I tell you who we cheer for or will that lose some of my followers! LOL! 
Who knew breaking my tooth would be such a gift for a "normal week-end" feeling good!?!

The pictures are us in our happy place at the river!  The view here makes us feel so at peace! Billy & I have been going to this same spot for about 16 years and September/early October is our most favorite time to go! This week-end was a real blessing in disguise! 

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:11

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

No Treatment Today....Perhaps a Crown Instead!

I wish I were missing this week's treatment for a royal crown. Though what would I do with a crown like the Queen of England would wear? I'm certain I'd sell it and put the value to better use.  Like paying for the white molded crown I need for my tooth that broke in half this week-end.  Thankfully I have not had pain since losing it, outside of the sharp edge that constantly rubs the inside of my cheek.  Its the first time since age 16 that I've wished for that wax you put over your braces!

Today I went to have blood drawn so that I can provide the results to my dentist tomorrow morning.  My oncologist said it is more important to go to the dentist this week because it could begin hurting and then my blood work wouldn't allow me to have it fixed. Also, it could get infected if we don't. Thankfully my platelets were in a normal range so I can see the dentist. 

My baby sister, Katy, was very brave and sat with me while they pulled off more blood samples to test for bacteria in my port.  Last week's sample did not grow anything after 5 days, but the doctor believes it may have already flushed into my bloodstream when they tried to get a sample.  They did have to lay me on a tilted bed so that my head was downhill to get the sample from my port to pull back, but once it worked all was well.  They flushed the port with saline and heparin again and we stayed for about 30 minutes with no signs of a reaction. 
Katy said she usually looks away when they do anything with the port, but she had to be brave like her older siblings today and watch in case I had a reaction!  I just love how I'm entertained while sitting in that chair!

They will determine which treatment I will have next Wednesday once they know what work the dentist actually does tomorrow.  So for now....I'm looking forward to a week off....and perhaps a crown.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Unexpected Discouragment

I have felt so optimistic. I don't think it is out of ignorance or denial.  It is certainly not because I'm naΓ―ve to the effects and difficult path of cancer. Personally, or with others I've watched face this disease that sometimes ends in death.  I have learned over the last 5 years that I must live in the moment because a day of worry is a day unlived. A night of anxiety and tears can mean less rest for my body to face the next day with purpose. I've learned this from lots of experience. So, please don't get me wrong.  I still have some sleepless nights where I have to pull out my bible and search for comfort, but in that I find that God has met me in this place before.  He's spoken purpose into my cancer battle and encouraged me to live out that purpose as well as any regular, nothing special, woman with sin and fears can do. During the day I fill my house with Christian podcasts from all my favorites on Oneplace.com and listen to Christian music in between.  I read my bible most days, even when I don't feel like it at all. And you know what? Sometimes those days are the ones I hear God's voice the most.  Sometimes I don't hear him at all and it is more about my heart processing what I already know. Remembering what I've learned and how God has proven Himself faithful repeatedly helps me stay optimistic. Going for check-ups and scans make me feel more like a realist as I know they can keep coming back showing cancer even when we've asked God to take away this burden.  Yesterday when my doctor reminded me that we are just doing this treatment for quality and extension of life, not a cure, my optimism quickly slid to realism once again.  I've been battling this in my mind ever since and constantly reminding myself that my battle is fought by the Lord.  It is not all up to science or my actions or beliefs or response.  It didn't help me feel better about it when my blood counts have dropped to where they had to decrease my treatment yesterday to 50%. They will do this next week as well in hopes that my counts will be good enough to take on a stronger large treatment on the 16th. I had decided this was a praise and not to worry about it because I hope to feel good enough to enjoy some of our labor day week-end.
However, once my pre-meds and Taxol were finished the nurse pushed some saline and Heparin through my port IV (as she always does) and within 60 seconds I tasted it very strong and then it felt like flames going up my throat and a flaming heat came over my body from head to toe like I've never felt before.  This had to be a heat that was 10 times worse than any CT contrast I've had before. I felt like I was choking and couldn't breath and my vision went double and blurry.  I don't know how long this lasted, the heat went and came with a vengeance in 60-90 seconds and then my double vision seemed to correct itself and became less blurry in about 5 minutes. My body was wiped out and weak/shaky.  My heart rate had spiked and my blood pressure spiked, but I recovered pretty well and am back to normal this morning. It was very scary and I've had two other episodes from treatment that were scary before, but this was the worst.  The doctor came and said that he thinks I could have had clusters of bacteria inside the port reservoir and that when the nurse flushed the fluid through there at a fast pace it pushed the bacteria down into the blood stream causing my body to react, kind of like the body thinking I had sudden blood poisoning or something.  I had to wait there 45 minutes or so for observation. Then, the nurse took blood from the port and is sending it to an outside lab to test for bacteria.  We had to flush the port again and I was so scared, but the nurse wouldn't admit she was.  She put the saline and heparin in very slow this time and was so professional!

Last night I was reminded of a verse that I read and as it came to mind it helped me move back toward optimism again.  God can do that.  His word and prayer can definitely do that.  It's conversation; wisdom straight from the King to my heart.

In Deuteronomy we learn that when the Israelites left Egypt for the land promised to their ancestors it was expected to take 11 days and it took 40 years!  ( vs. 1:2-3) We are reminded that during the 40 years, the Lord God was with them every step of the journey and the Israelites lacked nothing. (vs. 2:7) In chapter 7 Moses calls out things to remember that encourage us today. The battles that God fought against the enemies and the terror He brought upon them, the miraculous signs and wonders and the strong hand and powerful arm God used to bring them out of slavery from their enemy, Egypt.

"The Lord your God will use this same power against all the people (CANCER CELLS) you fear.  And then, the Lord your God will send terror to drive out the "few (CANCER CELL) survivors" still hiding from you (and the chemo). You will not clear them away all at once, otherwise the wild animals (KRAS growth gene) would multiply too quickly for you. He will throw them into complete confusion until they are destroyed." Deuteronomy 7:19-20, 22b-23

How this speaks to my optimistic faith.  We serve a powerful God and there is so much proof of it, not only in scripture, but in our own lives as He provides the unexpected repeatedly in a way that lets us know it is only from the Lord as He is fulfilling His promise to us.  Just as he fulfilled his promise to the Israelites when he did bring them across the Jordan to the promised land.

"For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills." Deuteronomy 8:7

How I wait for God to bring me into a good land!  You'll find me there with my toes in the flowing streams! 

So yesterday did bring some unexpected discouragement, but as I remembered my belt of truth I am once again encouraged by my creator that He is in control and my discouragement arrow is pulled right out of my armor as I march forward for the next battle.  There are a few more survivors we must take down. And that leader named KRAS Gene.....I think he's getting very confused.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Praises & Pleas

As I go into treatment again today I want to share a couple of things on my heart. We so often ask for our needs in prayer, but forget to talk about the answers. The reason we praise.  The reason we know God is real and active and gracious. The proof that grows our faith and brings us to our feet in worship. The needs met that we didn't even take the time to pray about. 

I didn't ask God to give me great days this week, but He gave me about 36 hours of energy and motivation to catch up at home, be an active mom and wife. I made a dinner for my family tonight that took a couple hours to prep and you'd think I roped the moon! It feels so good to do "normal".  And in God's perfect fashion, it comes when I'm at the end of my rope. 

I didn't ask God to provide for a specific want for my daughter, but he put it on someone's heart to provide it. He melted my Mama heart catering to the dreams of a 9 year old.  Mom to mom - You get it and I'm so blessed by you. 

I didn't even know that we had a medical bill that I mailed a check for and Billy also paid over the phone, double dipping our account.  God knew. An alert that we had a deposit in our 'we pay' account popped up. We hadn't used the account since 2013's fundraiser, but when we looked we had two deposits covering our error. An all-knowing, ever-ready God overwhelms me often. We really aren't doing this thing called "life" alone. He says he'll never leave us or forsake us. My experience proves this promise true. 

I could go on and on, but these are just a couple things from the last week. 

"The faithful love of the Lord never ends.  His mercies never cease. They are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness." 
Lamentations 3:22-23

I'm also so grateful for a new friend and prayer warrior. Her texted prayer for tonight I will share below and ask you to intercede with us. 

Lord Jesus, we thank You for the power that is in Your name. We praise Your name for what You have done, what You are doing and what You will do in and through Kristi.  You have raised her up for such a time as this. Be glorified in her Lord!  Reverse every attempt for infection of any kind to set in..in Jesus name! You have a purpose and plan for Kristi and You intend to be glorified in her...You are Mighty in word and deed and we worship Your Holy name! Reveal Your power and glory through Kristi, Lord...that all who know and see will believe in You!  We bind the enemy from any attempt to disrupt what You will do in Jesus name! We declare new life in Kristi ' s genetic make - up because You are creator of all. We speak to the KRAS gene to die and wither up...and declare life to a newly created gene that will cause all who treat Kristi to declare her a miracle and her gene to be never before seen...A one of a kind gene..for Your purpose and glory Lord!  Show up and show off that all may know there is a God in Heaven who is alive and well and able to do that which is impossible!  Use Kristi for Your Kingdom and Your glory as she seeks to honor You because of her great love and deep abiding trust in You..Bless Kristi in unspeakable...unthinkable ways..in Jesus name! 

I'm thankful for this powerful prayer that this long cancer journey is about God, not me or my family, the doctors or any other earthly thing. And for the exciting thought that God can choose to wipe out this so-called KRAS gene, without a scientifically proven cure, if He wants to! 

Praise you God for answered prayers, provisions needed, known and unknown. For showing us favor with undeserved mercies. For the power in Your name and the authority to approach your throne with confidence and boldness as we ask for a complete cure from this cancer - forever. Amen. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

2015 ~ Chemo Treatment #12 is Complete!

Treatment #12 is in the books!!!

I began this weekly treatment on May 6th and have had to miss 4 treatments, but we are getting closer.  I will do 6 more treatments and then return to MD Anderson to have scans once again.

Please pray that I can feel pretty good on my lighter "taxol only" weeks.  Last week I was in bed about a day and a half, but didn't feel very good for about 3 1/2 days. It was good in comparison to my "BIG" treatment that comes every 3 weeks.  I'm so grateful I only have 2 more of those before we reassess.  The journey is feeling long, so please pray for my patience, my caregivers, my husband and children to all persevere in a big way! 

I so appreciate those of you who have brought hot meals, frozen meals, gift cards to restaurants and Visa cards to pay toward our rising medical debt. 



Several weeks back a family in our community group found us someone to come help in our home 2 hours a week and kicked off paying for the much needed help.  Others have given as well since this was added to my care calendar.  This has been a godsend as my energy is less and less as the treatment compiles and I fight for good blood counts. 

Thank you so much for your extreme generosity and non-ceasing encouragement and prayer!

Love - Kristi

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Turn for the Better...

Last week's treatment makes me want to play hookie tomorrow. In fact, I'm pretty sure my husband may be praying my blood counts won't let me have chemo this week! But, I took a huge turn for the better today! Got out of bed and put together for a great outing to sonic happy hour, to visit my parents and to Isaiah's 8th grade open house. A giant day of activity compared to the last week of sleep and bed rest. Grateful for this day! 

I'll check in at 1:15 pm tomorrow for bloodwork. We'll see if my white blood cell shots helped. If so, treatment directly follows until 4:30 or so. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

A rough go...

I haven't updated as this has been a rough round of treatment. My white blood cells (WBC)  were still declining so after chemo onWednesday, I began a series of 3 shots to tell my bone marrow to build WBC.  We traveled to HOG in Rogers Thurs and Fri, but had to go to Fayetteville on Saturday. I hadn't been down there since my first battle with cancer in 2010-11. Katy & I couldn't even remember where we were going exactly, which seemed crazy after daily visits there. 

I've slept and slept this time and had a very sour tummy and some vomiting. Body aches and extreme fatigue are my daily companions. Yesterday I missed celebrating my moms bday with the family and ate a light dinner on the couch with Billy for our 18th anniversary. The future with this feels long, but we know it will pass.  We are choosing to stay on track counting on the end results to be great....life giving. The treatment feels more like it's taking life than giving it. They say that means it's working. 

Please pray for my body to recover and be able to continue getting treatment. Pray for endurance, perseverance and patience for all involved. In my heart 8 weeks more feels very very long.  

With love, 
Kristi

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Kicking off our next rounds of treatment.

I awoke fully dreading the "feeling bad" part of treatment, but I know scripture specifically tells us not to be in dread....not to be terrified......not to tremble.....depending on your bible translation. I really like the version that uses the word "dread" because I tend to feel and relate to this emotion more than trembling or being terrified. I'm not afraid to step into what God has called me to, knowing he carries me through it. He proven it over and over.  However, I still dread the effects of the hard journey we trudge through together. 


The Lord my God, my mom and I checked in at 11:00 today, but didn't get started until around 12:30 because my bloodwork came back with low white blood cell counts again. My platelets, however, jumped from in the 70's to 250! My Medical Oncologist approved treatment today, though with slightly lower doses of both chemo drugs, leaving Avastin the same. I will have to go in the next 3 days and get a shot that will tell my bone marrow to produce white blood cells. They said this causes the large bones in the body to ache. Since the Avastin already makes my muscles ache I'm not looking forward to that, but it will allow me to continue treatment and for that I am grateful. 2nd Round - 1 punch down; 8 to go! I do not dread the finishing punch of this round so I can go to MDA for scans and I plan to be told there is no evidence of disease (NED), putting me in remission! 
Please God, may this be so! Help me to be strong and courageous between now and then! Amen. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A treatment free Wednesday at home!

Isn't it funny how God works things out? He knows what we need before we even ask. He's working on my behalf....on your behalf. He cares about the small things and the big things in our lives. I was reminded of this today in two ways. 

First, I tried to cancel my chemo treatment on the phone yesterday and although the nurse said yes and transferred me to scheduling, the scheduler told me I needed to come to my appointment and have the Dr. change it. I rather thought seeing the Dr. on a week without treatment would be a waste of time, but I showed up prepared to ask for a delay in treatment even though it was still on the schedule. It felt silly asking to skip life saving treatments so that I can feel good for a concert tomorrow night, but I did it anyway.  Funny thing is, as soon as I ask permission, my Dr. said he couldn't treat me anyway because my blood counts are too low; especially white blood counts and platlets, plus I'm quite anemic. So, I would've gotten today off whether I ask or not. This means next Wednesday, 8/5, I resume as long as my bloodwork improves. In the mean time, I will go sing some country tunes with my hubby and friends tomorrow night. A little Kenny Chesney entertainment can't hurt, right?!? 

Secondly, because I didn't have chemo today I was able to attend a women's night out with a friend. The subject of our "back porch chat" was prayer, which always brings discussion of God's character. How personal is God to free up my schedule for a reminder that He hears my prayers and your prayers. That He loves me. He loves you. That there are so many people who care, even when in their own season of very hard and tiring struggles. Words of encouragement, powerful prayers, testimonies of faith and sweet new friends all ribboned together by a God who is ever-present and wants to speak to us and carry our burdens. Carry my burden, even. 

Seems like the perfect encouragement and reminder of who God is before I begin this next 9 weeks of chemo. 

The words of a hymn come to mind. 
Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below.....


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Wednesday 7/30 Update

This Wednesday I am going to give my MD Anderson scan/bloodwork results to Dr Beck and have them test my blood and chemistry numbers to see if they've improved. No treatment this Wednesday, but we will have a date to begin again during this appointment. It's been a good break again after skipping last week. It's hard to set a date when I know I'll go back to feeling worse again for a couple months. My prayer is for peace of mind and spirit as we begin again. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lord, I will wait for you to act.

Reading through various scriptures in Psalms tonight and I came across this one.

BE STILL in the PRESENCE of the LORD. And WAIT PATIENTLY for HIM to ACT.

In these 15 words there are so many barriers that come to my mind.
BE STILL - It is incredibly hard to be still when you are in a life and death battle. A battle that not only impacts you, but families, churches, communities. You want to prepare your best weapons and plan your bravest attack. You must attend all battles personally, plus try to give appropriate and meaningful time to your family and/or friends. You find you are forced to be still, but only to rest your weary body and you have difficulty being still with intent on the Lords Presence. So, you listen to music and fall asleep. Read the bible and your mind wanders to the "what if scenarios" of hard battles ahead or unknown victories.
You speak to the Lord and find there is silence, or perhaps words of truth you don't want to hear. Perhaps those hard to hear words are that you must WAIT PATIENTLY & let the LORD ACT in HIS TIMING. Without your input. This means your armor is not needed because you will attend behind the LORD, protected by the Lord in this battle. He will be taking ACTION for you, leading you, protecting you, pacing your steps through the battleground to match His stride. No matter your busy research, preparation, training you are ill equipped in comparison. You are not the hero of this story, but the scared, impatiently busy character being saved by the hero, Lord God, again. And again. And again.

I look back at the battles we've fought and see victories, so I press harder behind the Lord keeping stride with him for more to come in His Presence.

Psalms 37:7a
~Kristina's learnings & thoughts only and not to be referenced as theoretical or philosophical truth.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fluids and sweet conversation

Because my kidneys were hurting during chemo yesterday and I had symptoms of a UTI again afterwards, the doctor brought me back in for fluids today and tomorrow to try and flush the kidneys well. After 2 rounds of antibiotics that don't want to go that route again if they don't have to.
While in the lobby I met a sweet lady who has Crone's Disease and had a fistula (hole between rectum and vaginal wall). She's here to treat her Crone's and we had a nice visit and I got to share my story about my miracle in 2012 at MDA. Then I sat next to a man and he had been quietly reading his book but ask me a question and we began to talk and I learned his story of pancreatic cancer that has spread so he's stage 4 and has been given months to live. I was able to share my miracle story with him and talk about my faith. These sweet people need prayer and I'm so thankful for them as they both brightened my day today in their own way. I love when God makes divine appointments for me.

I was really tired yesterday and last night, but today I feel okay that way and no nausea. Alert due to the steroids I guess, but a bit of muscle weakness and some pain in my upper legs is settling in. I was winded coming up the stairs today for treatment and I just ran up them with the kids in Mexico. The poison me to make me better. Isn't that an odd thing. Praying they will find a forever cure for cancer today. So many people hurting because of this disease. And many diseases. I'm reminded of this as I visited with my new friend with Crone's and I think of friends with auto immune disease and MS AND ALS and chronic digestive illness.

Pray for those you know with chronic disease and pain today. as much as I need it, I know they do too.

Have a blessed day friends.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Special Vacation Gave Me 2 Weeks Off Chemo!


I apologize that I haven't updated in almost two weeks and I've had so many sweet friends and family that have reached out to me to see if I'm okay. 
I am really good....finally.....after getting to skip two weeks between big treatments so that I could go on a great vacation all paid for by the kind people where Billy works, Central States Manufacturing.  The company did a fabulous benefit with a cook-out, basketball and soccer tournaments, a silent auction, a dunk tank and a baked goods sale all to raise funds for us to have an awesome family vacation in Cancun, Mexico.  Here are just a few pics of our time there.  I was still so weak when we left and had to sit down while my family found the room and came back for me, but each day I got stronger and stronger and it was just perfect for all of us.  By the end I ran down the stairs with the kids! On our trip home, Alyssa was holding my hand walking to our connecting flight, and she blurted out, "Our life is just perfect.  Everything is working out."  From the mouth of a babe, even in light of our current situation, the truth of that statement resonated deep. God continues to provide above and beyond what we deserve. He knows what we need before we ask and people heed His nudges daily to encourage us to press on. We are so grateful to everyone who made this trip possible and prayed for us as we were traveling and recovering.  May you be blessed in return.  Much love to you all.







Thursday, June 18, 2015

So Blessed Yesterday!

I've been so congested this week with a cough and extra sinus headaches. I also ended my antibiotic for my infection and I could tell it was back again. Feeling terrible,  I was really dreading yesterday's big treatment with all 3 meds again. And honestly, with a low grade fever too I wasn't sure if they would let me do the treatment at all. My Medical Oncologist said I was good to go with another round of antibiotics. The  blood # they watch for my ability to fight off infection was a 1200 and they say I'm good at 500, so that's a praise too! 

My sister, Katy, was supposed to pick me up yesterday to drive me to treatment, but when I came out of my room I found a huge surprise! My sister from Texas, Danina, was in my house to take me!!! That just made my day! She gets to stay until next Tuesday and we had a nice time catching up yesterday! She vacuumed and did dishes and laundry! She brought me joy and gave my other siblings a much needed break to take care of their own families! 

This is the first BIG treatment that my Mom and Dad have missed so I wore my Colorado shirt to represent them! 
While Nina and I were waiting on the doctor, my nurse, who is also Nina πŸ˜‰, brought in this amazing gift! I saw it and it was just perfect! Perfect timing and a perfect message! 





This idea comes from my old blog post, which is 
here if you haven't read it. Thank you to the Ford's entire family for being so intentional in your encouragement. It renewed me to get out of the corner and FIGHT! And it brought me lots of laughs and smiles! Everyone else got some smiles too while we took this picture in the lobby! 
Another song came to mind as well. It's by Toby Mac and I love that it says I'll shine again. I may be knocked down, but not out forever! Thank you for this reminder! 

On top of these surprises my dear friend Ingrid came by. Clay dropped by. And my sweet friend Allison came to spend her lunch break with me and brought me some awesome Entangled coloring books and pencils.  That's a great stress reliever! Thank you friends! 

Allison


I did really good with all this encouragement yesterday and am having a decent day today! Got pretty shaky and my nurse says that's fatigue and I need to lay down....so here I am blogging on my phone from bed! The worst usually hits Friday and through the weekend so please be in prayer that the cancer is dieing rapidly and my body stays strong for the FIGHT! 

I am blessed. 
 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Best day yet!

Just when I began to think I would not recover, gaining strength or energy to do even the mundane tasks of life (dishes, laundry, showering, driving) I went in to get fluids and had some labs done. We found out that some of my symptoms, which I thought were from my chemo, was actually a bad infection in my "special built" urinary tract somewhere. They didn't really say where, but that my analysis looked terrible. It's crazy that I had no fever or something that would alert me except I felt aweful. Sounds crazy for those without an ostomy, but I have zero feeling/sensation like I would have normally.  I'm 2 days on antibiotics and having the best day I've had in two weeks!  I am plagued with some lightheaded/dizzy feeling and tire easier than normal, but I did some mundane chores and really enjoyed it! It's the small things that keep my heart hopeful for more good days! 

Today, I wish it weren't time, but I go for my 6th chemo treatment. It's a Taxol only day and I will get fluids before the weekend in hopes that this is a good week end with the family. Please join us in prayer for this. Also, pray for Billy as he's home sick today which is a complete rarity. He goes to work no matter what, but he was so sick last night and this morning. I kind of think it's some food he ate last night, but we aren't sure so he's quarrantined away from me! 

Thank you for your continued prayers and kindness. All your messages, texts and love encourages us to keep up the fight and stay hopeful! May you be blessed today. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Chemo Day - Week 5

Today I still felt no energy and had no appetite. My platelets are low. I'm a bit anemic and my Potassium is a teeny bit low. These results were good on Monday when I went in for fluids with vitamins & minerals. 

They gave me some extra steroids for energy & appetite and even sleepy from the Benedryl I ate more today than I have in the last 5 days. I wiSh I got a picture with each visitor that came to bring me joy and gifts of food today! 

My long time friend, Jenny, brought me a goodie bag and a kids meal from Braums....just the way I crave it lately. We had such a great visit....long overdue. πŸ’•

Kathy Rusch came bearing gifts of MiMi's Cafe muffins, lots of cheer and encouragement. 

Clay came with more watermelon, diced perfectly bite size for sweet hydration! 

And Kent came full of smiles, peace, fist pumps and care...just the way he is always for a friend. My husband stopped by, my adorable parents were there. I saw my friend, Lesley, while she was getting her chemo too. What a social day at the chemo room! 

And in honor of my sister's birthday I decided to pull myself together for the first time in a week. You gotta fake it 'til you make it! Happy Birthday Danina! I love and adore you! 

Tonight I'm feeling very low energy, but I'm home. We had a beautiful spaghetti dinner from Sara Schafer tonight! And yes, I even ate a cookie for dessert! Soon the phenegran will put me into a slumber in hopes to awake with more "life" in this body and controlled nausea (please Jesus)?!?!

Will you pray that tomorrow is a better day? A day where I can function around here and do mundane chores and errands? Will you pray that this medicine is battling the cancerous tumors and killing them off one by one.  A permanent death of this cancer is needed. 

Love you all. 


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Visual changes; very hard week

When I am weak, He is strong. When I am heavy burdened, He carries my burdens. When I am at a loss for prayer, He intercedes for me. Who is He? My Savior. Jesus. God. The Holy Spirit. Yahweh. Jehovah. El Shaddai. 

Do you know Him? How I pray you do. I couldn't face today or any other day without Him. He guides. He Provides. He lifts me up. He lights my steps. He understands. He extends mercy and courage, grace and comfort. 

I've experienced Him in all these ways before, but as you heal and get better it feels more difficult to go back to the intimately known territory than brings pain, sickness, loss, humility and hardship all around you. I know the look in my husbands eyes when he's hurting for me. I hear the pain in my Daddy's voice. I see the determination and courage in my siblings features. I see the disappointment and confusion in my children. I feel the warm concern of my Mama. I experience the generosity of so many through food, visits, messages and cards, financial gifts and tokens to bring me joy and entertainment.  It's all too familiar this time, but yet it's not. 

I have been through chemo before, and dealt with extreme fatigue and nausea, even losing half of my hair post surgery. Yet, the visual that I'm sick once again was a hard hit, while also spending 4 days in bed this weekend. 

I felt so terrible on Saturday I knew we should cut my hair off as half of it was gone, but I didn't have the mental or physical capacity. Sunday night as I showered another 1/4 of my hair washed out and left matted tangles that my mom came to brush out as I struggled with nausea and vomiting around midnight. Still my hair was matted again with no repair Monday morning. My sisters, Amy & Katy, came to do the dreaded dead of shaving my head. They were so brave and gentle.  They helped me dress and go get fluids and anti nausea meds in my new wig. Billy says he thinks I'm beautiful on the inside and that makes me beautiful on the outside too. He's so sweet to me. Alyssa wanted to see my bald head and touch it and talk about it while she tried on my wig and danced around looking fabulous! Isaiah says he likes the wig and knows he'll get used to it like a new hair cut, but he's not ready to see my bald head yet. He holds my hand, at almost 13, and says he just knows I'll feel better tomorrow. I can see the hope to encourage me in his young eyes. 

My body may ache and sickness may rule over the day, but my heart is full. I am treated like the daughter of The King. I may not be happy, but Joy is mine to claim. I fight to choose it each day. This day more difficult to express outwardly, but it's there in my heart, where He lives. 




 





Sunday, May 31, 2015

Prayers appreciated

I'm trying to figure out how to blog from my phone, so I hope this "test" works. 
I'm on my 3rd day in bed or on the couch post treatment. It's feeling pretty hard to keep asking my husband and kids to bring me things or rub my shoulders. It's hard to miss out on "living life"! I missed church this morning, which meant we missed two friends baptizing their kids and missed and outdoor service as a family. Things that bring me happiness to be a part of. I'm worried I'm becoming dehydrated, though I'm trying to SIP fluids and eat watermelon and popcicles. I think I'll go ask for fluids tomorrow and nausea meds, but until then prayers are appreciated friends. 

I am also posting updates on my facebook page, for those asking it is: Team Kristi Prayer Warriors

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Harder Than I Thought

This afternoon I will go for my 3rd round of chemo. Oh, how I hate the sound of that.  The first week was hard because of nausea and the sudden change from feeling healthy and strong to immediate full-time waves of sickness.  The second week they added some steroids for days 2, 3 & 4 to help with the nausea, which did work, but how I ached to sleep and couldn't.  My body couldn't relax on those steroids and the new addition of Avastin, which causes muscle pain and fatigue....literally.  I expected to be functioning at a decent level this last week, but instead I spent hours in bed on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  It is hard to describe, but I could feel where my muscles were and they literally felt heavy to carry around and move.  Nausea became a secondary complaint this week. 

As for my personality, my plan was not to be knocked down by this treatment;  especially so early. I have a big event to pull off this Saturday through my small events company.  My family is going to be a big help in making this happen.  As usual they have my back when I need it and I treasure them so much for the sacrifices they make.

Last Saturday I was laying in my bed feeling sad that I'd had to cancel a movie date with my daughter because I was too fatigued to do it. Her disappointment was evident, as was my husbands and my sons over various things that day.  It was a stark realization for all of us that we are moving backwards in my health once again.  I had to accept that this is harder than I thought it would be. It is not just myself that is tired of this on-going cancer journey, but my whole family and all who support us are tired.  Every Wednesday comes around way to fast. 

Please pray with us that God will wrap his arms around us, helping and protecting us in these areas.

1. Minimal side effects this week (only 1 chemo) and that I would feel good to work my event this Friday and Saturday. That the event would go smoothly!
2.  Safety for Billy as he travels to his 20 year reunion.  For our hearts as I cannot travel with him and we both wish I could.
3.  For the chemo and Avastin to be working, shrinking and eliminating the tumors in my lungs.
4.  That we would be patient as our life is interrupted once again.  That we should extend grace to each other when it feels hard or we are coping differently.
5.  That there is a clinical trial approved that would be the cure against the KRAS cancer growth gene.
6.  That God would be gentle with us, providing greatly as we add to our medical expense debt.
7.  Thank God for the people he has put in our lives to encourage us, help us, and pray for us during this ongoing battle.
8.  Thank God for giving us the Holy Bible so that we can hear from Him regularly and worship in the midst of pain.

When times get so difficult and we wonder why God is allowing this to happen, I find it so imperative to go back and look at how the Lord has never left us and carried us to where we are today.  In remembrance of the goodness and greatness of our Savior I want to share our "cancer verses" that we claimed back in 2012 after my first reoccurrence and miracle in Houston.  (See 2012 Post Here

"In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry.
 May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.
 May He send you help from His sanctuary and strengthen you from Jerusalem.
 May He remember all your gifts and look favorably on your burnt offerings.
 May He grant your heart's desires and make all your plans succeed.
 May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory
 and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.
 May the Lord answer all your prayers."  Psalms 20:1-5

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Throwback Thursday

I love this picture SO MUCH. It shows the character of my precious husband, Billy, praying over me at the hospital in Springdale two years ago. This was my 3rd battle with this cancer and infection had stormed my body post surgery. Soon after this I took an 11 hour ambulance ride alone to Houston and the MD Anderson hospital because the infection was not responding to the iv meds after 2 weeks. I can't say enough about Billy's love and commitment to his Savior, myself and our children. His heart is what I fell in love with almost 20 years ago and its even more full of light today. So grateful I chose him!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Treatment Has Begun

Sorry for a late post, but I was so busy "living life" before I might now feel well! 

I had a pre-op appointment on Monday, then surgery to have my port put in on Tuesday.  The surgery went smoothly outside of getting behind on my pain meds and having some nausea post anesthetic. 

Wednesday I had a long day at HOG.  We met with Dr Beck, who we've chosen as our local medical oncologist, did the blood draw and then started chemo. 

I was only able to get 2 of the 3 medicines yesterday because my insurance has not approved the Avastin yet.  They are trying different methods to get it approved or paid for by the pharmaceutical company so that I can start it next week.  It is an approved drug for many kinds of cancer like colon and cervical, but not for my particular kind of cancer yet as its so rare. We are hopeful this will be taken care of soon.

I actually felt pretty good last night, but nausea and some physical weakness has kicked in today.  Its not too bad because I have 2 sick kids at home and have been taking care of them, cleaned the kitchen and even did a light mopping of the tile.  I'm worn out now and ready to lay down.  :)  I told Billy it gets worse from here I'm sure, so I can't go down yet!  He was not happy I was mopping!

Please pray for minimal side effects.  For lots of energy for Billy and my parents and siblings.  Pray for the cancer to shrink away rapidly and permanently. 

Pray that our insurance will cover a huge portion of the expenses. 

Also....that my kids would get better soon! Isaiah woke up with Staph in two places Monday and Alyssa woke up with strep throat on Tuesday!  Its been quite a week, but we've survived! 

On a happy note, we got family pictures taken on Monday night by Love in Focus and our sneak peak is ready!  See them here! https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.988440927847443.1073741863.599995290025344&type=1

Friday, April 10, 2015

The 4th Round - Treatment Plan

I'm thinking about a video I've seen. It's of a female in the boxing ring and she's being hit over and over with new information about her cancer.  It's a combination of physical and emotional blows. One after the other they keep coming and there is nothing she can do but resolve to stay on her feet.  Keep fighting. Blocking. Keep choosing her next move with each and every hit until the triumphant end of the final round. 

I am ringside before the 4th round praying deep down that this will be the one.  The one that puts cancer down and out.  I came out full of fury and fight in the first round. Determination and focus. The second round brought me to the point of wanting to surrender and the unexpected happened.  A counterpunch that put cancer down for the count...a miracle for sure. The third round became painful and so hard physically, mentally and emotionally.  I felt like I'd been hit repeatedly below the belt, yet I struggled to endure and persevere....digging  deep to remember my training and my purpose in the fight.  It was a barnburner, a nail-biter, intense kind of fight. The bell sounded and it felt so sweet.

Now, I will begin the 4th round.  I am tired. I am disappointed that the fight continues.  I wanted there to be a knockout in the first round, but the attacker is more sly and aggressive than I thought.  I will choose to continue the good fight no matter the cost.  I will not allow this round to knock me off my feet.  I stand on a firm foundation and have a clear understanding of my purpose.  I believe in my coach.  I believe in my team.  I believe in my training. I will go the distance.  I pray this will be so easy it's a snoozer.

Match Date: May 6, 2015
Time: 9:15 AM

Boxers: Kristi vs Cancer
Tactics: Taxol, Carboplatin, Avistin
Coach: Jesus Christ
Training: Holy Bible/Prayer
Team: All of You

Thank you team, for your relentless prayers for my husband, Billy, my children, myself, family, friends, Dr B and Nurses. God bless. xoxo

Exodus 14:14 " The Lord WILL fight for you.  Just stay calm." (NLT)

2 Chronicles 20:17 "You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you.... Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you." (NIV)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Appointment this Thursday

My MD Anderson doctors said that I can do my new chemo cocktail at home in Arkansas, which is a HUGE praise!  I polled my cancer posse group and asked for a specific doctor who is overseeing a clinical trial for colorectal cancer patients with the Kras "wild type" gene.  I'm not sure this applies to my cancer, but at least this doctor is familiar with what is driving the growth of my cancer. That makes me feel pretty good about our choice.  His scheduler was so sweet and printed off my md Anderson records for me and got me an appointment for 2:00 this Thursday with Dr B.

We are praying about our start date for treatment as I will have 3 treatments, 21 days apart, and then go back to MD Anderson to have scans and determine if it is working or not. 

Thank you for joining us as we continue to ask for total healing, wisdom and guidance for the doctors and nurses, and soft & confident hearts for us. 

"But the Lord's plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken." Psalms 33:11

"My heart has heard you say, 'Come and talk with me.' And my heart responds, 'Lord, I am coming." Psalms 27:8

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1

It's a No.....KRAS Gene Clinical Trial

Oh, how I wish I had gone to MD Anderson last week and came home with a plan packed full of hope for a cure. A plan with an end in sight. Unfortunately, I did not. 

Based on a 50 gene test, we learned that my cancer growth is being driven by a gene called KRAS.  Our clinical trial doctor didn't spare any time when he told us there is no current treatment or trial that has identified a targeted treatment that hits this gene. Ugh........ It's surreal to sit there and know that what you prayed for is not what you are getting......again.  Instead your unanswered prayer gives you only one direction to go.  The current standard treatment. Is this a blessing I didn't know I needed, I wonder?

One year ago when they found I had spots in my lungs and began to watch so closely a new chemo cocktail was being put into mainstream treatment around the world.  This cocktail is now my best chance to shrink or slow the growth of this KRAS driven adenocarcinoma. I wonder if anyone with my rare gyn cancer (primary vaginal adenocarcinoma) has ever been given this cocktail? Perhaps it is a cure for me, though not for cervical cancer.  Will God give me a miracle and allow me to beat the odds and live far outside of the "norm", according to science? Might I have life much longer than ever dreamt of because I realize God is bigger than my cancer? Might God choose to give little me, with no giant impact around the world, a miracle that shines His light in my small circle? Will the master potter create me to a be a beautiful unique masterpiece that lives this life with a small crack in my side? Much like Paul's thorn, my "small crack" will always remind me who is in control of my destiny.  The one who pulls me up out of bed in the morning with joy in my heart and strength to put my feet on the floor once more. The risen Savior. Abba. Yahweh. Jehovah!

My Savior is the lamp unto my feet shining light only on THIS day. I find it no mistake that as I remember being in the hospital at MD Anderson on Good Friday 2 years ago, fighting for my life, against multiple infectious bacterias in my body, I now set out on yet another life threatening journey. I could face tomorrow during that time because I knew my Savior lived!  He lives still.  He is faithful still.  He had bigger plans for the world on Good Friday all those years ago when Jesus died on the cross.  He has bigger plans for us on this day as well.  His ways are beyond our understanding. They are more dramatic than any theatrical climax.  It is too much for my human mind to take in. I long for understanding, but for now, I choose to trust. I choose to find hope against the odds.  I'd rather be a scared and tired soldier in God's mysterious army than a strong and powerful commander purposed to chase the wind.

God, help us to fight with purpose on this day.  We are sinful, scared and tired people who cannot come close to deserving your unending love. May we choose to be faithful today with the moment in time you've given us. May we remember that you alone are in control of this universe. You created the world and everything in it. This sinful world has caused so much pain and ugliness around us.  May you lift our eyes away from the pits, and toward you so that we can find our way through this battleground. Thank you for the gift of eternal life through your son Jesus Christ.  Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us until the day we get to meet you face to face. My you alone receive all the glory in our lives. Help us to choose to trust and hope in you alone. Amen.

Philippians 3:10 " I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Next Step

My sister, Amy, and I will head back to Houston on Wednesday April 1st to meet with two people.  One is for Integrative Nutrition/Medicine and the other is to learn about any clinical trials that I may qualify for.  Thankfully, the Houston rodeo month is over and we are able to get MUCH better rates so that we can fly via Southwest again this time. 

Please be praying that God goes before us and makes it clear the path of treatment that we should follow. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement once again.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Be Still and Know I Am God

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,
  I will be exalted in the earth." Psalms 46:10


If you've seen my story in the KLRC mailings lately you know we listen to Christian music in our home and cars all the time. Hence, I'm sure I've heard this song, but it never stuck with me....until today. I was scrolling through Facebook this morning and came upon a post (by KLRC actually) and it led me to watch this Casting Crowns music video for the first time. I watched it several times because the lyrics stood out as if they were speaking my heart right this minute.

It's a very surreal feeling to realize and believe with my whole heart that I serve a God who is able to do anything I ask of him, but instead He's chosen to leave me in this trial. A trial that I do not believe God put me in, but he allowed it to come upon me because I live in a fallen world. I find myself needing to do the mundane tasks of keeping my home clean and folding laundry, sorting mail and so on....but I'm not able to focus on them. My time goes by and I wonder what I did. I'm realizing that these times are spent sitting quietly with Jesus as I soak in the realness of this situation. Accepting that I have been chosen by God to authentically live out this teeny tiny role as part of a humongous story. A story that will one day end only with joy, peace, and pain free glory to the sovereign One. Although this is a painful realization, I become more willing as I sit. "Be still and know that I am God" is taking on an entirely new meaning.
If your eyes are on the storm
You'll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You'll know I always have and I always will
And not a tear is wasted
In time, you'll understand
I'm painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Results - March 2015

If you follow me on Team Kristi Prayer Warriors via Facebook, you have some of this news.... 

Billy, my brother Joshua, and I left a week ago Sunday to drive to Houston. We had planned to go to church and leave early afternoon, but because of the recent snowstorm we took off early in case of bad roads.  God went before us and melted the ice and snow off all the way through the Dallas area.

Monday, I had a CT with Barium (on my least favorite things list) and Contrast to look closely at my hip pain site and throughout the pelvic/abdomen.  The amazing news is that they found NOTHING in this area.  My Total Pelvic Exenteration, with its 50/50 chance of a cure got rid of all the cancer in this area.  This is a huge praise and gift from God because if the cancer returns in this "radiated field" (as the dr's refer to it) my outcome would be dire.

Tuesday, I had a CT assisted biopsy of my right lung where the largest "spot" is seen on the prior CT scans. They had me lay on my tummy, which required creativity in itself, as I haven't been able to do that well in over 2 years now. The went in below my right shoulder and got a good sampling without any complications at all.  We learned that 30% of patients have a lung collapse during these biopsies and I did not.  Thank you Jesus for that too!

We enjoyed an afternoon and evening out on the big city of Houston while we waited for results. The laughs and distraction was just the right thing for us on this trip.

Wednesday morning I woke up pretty nervous. I had this feeling that God wasn't through with this story yet.  This wasn't the miracle story that would have the impact He wanted. I thought about two conversations with strangers from the day before.  One was a man who had glioblastoma (brain tumor) 5 years ago.  They had given him a very slim chance to live 18 - 24 months and here he was to tell us about it 5 years later.  We also met another sweet woman who passed on a book called "Praising" to me and told us her daughter had breast cancer at age 25 with a double mastectomy.  Her doctors didn't expect her to live at that time and here she is almost 40 years old....15 years later, beating the odds. 
We always talk to people about their stories, but they are usually in the thick of the battle.  This is the first time I've sat and had people share their stories about beating the odds and I began to feel that this was God encouraging us for what was to come. It made me very nervous.

We sat across from Dr L and learned that the biopsy showed metastasized cancer in my lungs. This means it is the same type of cancer from before, not a new kind, but it has moved in the body. I have multiple spots in both lungs and so surgery is not an option. This news is such a hard blow to accept because we know we serve a God who is big enough to intervene, to give miracles, to answer our cries for help. Yet, he didn't.....again. But when I look at the full picture, I know without a doubt that God is the author of this story and He has me close at heart while He writes.  My emotions don't "feel" this way, but my heart knows.  If these spots had been found before my Total Pelvic Exenteration they would have refused to do the surgery that has given me these two years of life.  And now, 2 years later, there are some new clinical trials that I may be a candidate for.....and who knows. I may be the evidence that it can be a cure!  This is such a stretch and nothing our "scientific" doctor would even let us believe right now, but we're fighting to stay positive and full of Hope.  We are fighting with constant remembrance of Gods faithfulness over and over in this journey. We know this story is not over because when I am weak He is strong. Jesus is the ultimate Healer! He is the healer of our bodies, our hearts and our souls. As hard as it is to face cancer a 4th time we know without a doubt that God has us in this place for a purpose. A purpose much bigger than we can comprehend.

Now, we wait for an appointment to learn about treatment options in detail so that we can choose.  Six months ago there wasn't a choice...it would have been standard chemo.  Today we hope and pray for a clinical trial option so that we can have a choice in treatment.  Praise God for this timing.

Thank you for holding us up with your prayers, cards and messages of encouragement.  We all need it so much and appreciate you. 

Today's verse of encouragement to stay bold in the Hope of God.
"Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised." Hebrews 10:35-36

 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Suspicious Lung Spots - Here We Go Again.

My heart hurts as I write this post.  Not because of what I have to do next, but because of what it means for all those around me.  This journey is long and hard for the cancer patient, but it is so long and hard for the caregivers and the prayer warriors as well.  Bad news not only deflates my joyful spirit, but it has a domino effect in all directions.  I'm keenly aware of this as I continue on with my quest to be honest and transparent in hopes to keep others up to date. To inform those who stumble upon my story in search for their own answers. Yet, most importantly to glorify God in the midst of the trial He's entrusted to me.

This week Billy & I left our kids behind, now 12 & 9 yrs. old, to return for a quarterly follow up in Houston at MD Anderson.  I had blood work and scans of my chest.  The blood work showed some low function in my kidneys and indicated the spots in my lung have once again grown larger.  The largest spot is still small at about 12 mm and growing slow, but steady. My doctor is suspicious enough that this is metastasized cancer that he has ordered a biopsy on March 3rd. He is basing his current concern solely on the scientific trend he has seen in cervical cancer cases, not hard evidence of my own case .... yet.

In addition, I am having some pain in my hip that he is going to have a CT of when we return as well.  Cervical cancer (which they lump me into) has a tendency to move into the hip area as well. 

My doctor began telling us that he would do some research for treatment if it comes back cancer.  He shared how this has been unsuccessful in the majority of cases when treated with chemotherapy, but that is the primary plan.  He will research clinical trials to see if anyone is seeing new success with other procedures as well.  He explained that each person responds differently and that my age and health are on my side. 

During this conversation Dr. L held my hand, but the pit in my stomach began to form and Billy was looking a bit pale as well.  The word clinical trial brings hope, but fear as well. Are we really to this point, I wondered? That there is not another known cure? He said that our goal would be to shrink the cancer, but that there is not success in ridding me of it completely.

Long. Hard. Road. These words have stuck with us since we first heard in November 2010 that I had a rare vaginal adenocarcinoma at a young age of 34. Here we are facing the "fear" of a 4th round with this disease. But, I enjoyed an acronym shared with me this morning that fits the situation perfectly.

FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real

According to Science & Fear they believe I have cancer, but according to Fact and Faith......we have yet to see what God will bring about!

Join us and......

...Boldly ask God to intervene on my behalf and allow me to be cancer free after these next tests. (Hebrews 4:16; Isaiah 63:7-9)

...Ask God to give Billy & I the words to update our children tonight, but not scare them in the process. We want them to know truth so they can feel and see God at work no matter what the outcome. (Matthew 19:14)

...Keep asking God to show me favor in this situation. Providing peace and strength while we wait, and joy and laughter when we hear the good news! (Matthew 7:7 NLT; Daniel 10:19; Proverbs 15:30)

Thank you for your continued love and concern this week.  Billy & I are so grateful as we have felt your prayers and the burden became lighter at times.  Galatians 6:2 says, "Carry each others burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." We are blessed beyond measure with people who are willing to carry our burdens with us.

Here we go again...with God on our side!