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. 

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 na├»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 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 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 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.