Friday, March 07, 2008

From Donna

This update is long over due. The last we spoke, I had concerns about some lumps on my right side. After going back and forth between my oncologist and surgeon, it was decided to do a biopsy and to run another CT. This was in November. I waited and prayed for the results. The news was good - the CT was clean and the biopsy showed a fat necrosis (fat cells had died and turned into hard little lumps). I was so relieved and grateful.

I have to back up to October because I walked in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. It was an uplifting and exhilarating experience. The weather was perfect and I had friends and family with me. My two daughters, Misty and Lisa, Jim, Debora, Susan, Bratton, and my friend Jeff flew in from Pittsburgh to support me. It was so awesome.

Sometime during the month of October I tore the meniscus in my knee. I went to physical therapy, took pills, did exercise to no avail. I finally had an MRI after about three months and found the damage. So surgery was scheduled for the end of January.

Between all this time, the holidays were approaching and we were busy, especially with having extra people in the house. I had a wonderful surprise though, my son John and his family drove from Washington state to have Christmas with us. I was so happy. It meant more people but there's nothing like family and we managed.

All too soon the holidays were over and we were entering a new year. I was working, doing my regular checkups, and preparing for my knee surgery on January 24th. During this time Jim came down with pneumonia and I never thought that he would get over it. It seems like right after I had my surgery I started to get sick. It started with a cough and just got worse. I went to my doctor, they x-rayed and I was told that I had bronchitis with underlying pneumonia, then I got a stomach virus and was vomiting all the time, next came laryngitis, and finally it seemed like everything just settled in my muscles.

During this time, my sister Gina came to visit and we spent a wonderful weekend together but I could tell that she was concerned about me. She is a doctor and I know it must be difficult to be sister and healer.

Finally on February 29th I went back to the doctor and told him that I just didn't feel like I was getting any better - I could not lay flat on my back because of the pain and I could not stand to have him touch my back with a stethoscope. He immediately set me up for a CT later that day. When I got home, I waited for the results fully expecting to be told that I had pneumonia. Unfortunately, that was not the news.

I was told that my cancer was back and that it was in my liver, lungs and lymph nodes. All I could say was what, what, what? I almost passed out from the news. I was admitted to the hospital that night for another CT. They were concerned about blood clots in the lungs. I had to wait until Saturday for the second CT and they found no blood clots.

Saturday night, Jim and a dear friend, Rich, wre with me when the oncologist came in to talk to me. He was not my regular doctor but was on call for the weekend. First strike against him, he thought that I was Jim's mother. OK, I know that I look like I was drug through a knot hole backwards but I didn't realize it was that bad. Gotta color my hair!

He told me what they had already confirmed but he told me too that there was hope. He said that he would tell me if there was nothing they could do but, there is a plan B, C, D etc. He told me that I could hang out in the hospital and rest or go home and see my regular oncologist on Monday. Rest in a hospital? Come on! No, I told him that I wanted to go home and spend time with my husband.

My mind was in turmoil, I was afraid, thinking crazy thoughts, feeling helpless and hopeless. I definitely needed an attitude adjustment. Of course for me, it was telling my family. I could not do all of it. Thank God for Jim. I did call my sister Gina, and needless to say, she was in shock. She had no words except of love and that's what I needed.

I called John and Jane and they immediately made arrangements to come stay with me. Jane went through chemo with me previously and was so much support to me. I am so thankful for their friendship and love.

Sunday I had visits and calls from friends. There was laughing and crying. The words that stick with me from Debora was in Mark 4:35-40. Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? I can resist fear by putting my trust in God. When I feel like panicking, I can confess my need for God and then trust him to take care of me. I felt like I was pulling myself back from a deep, dark pit that was trying to devour me and I realized that it was the enemy trying to seed doubts into my mind. I will not let him win.

On Monday I went to see my oncologist, Dr. Holladay. The first thing he did was give me a big hug. He knew instinctively every thought I was having. He is so compassionate and I trust my life in his hands because I know that God works through him. He told me not to worry and that there is a lot of hope. There is so much that they can do for me. I did ask him if I had to make any life changing decisions with anything, including my job. He told me no that he wanted me to keep doing as I am doing and if we ever get to that point, he will let me know.

I was scheduled to have my port implanted on March 6th at 7:30 A.M. and to have my first treatment at 9:00 A.M. They will use two drugs and go in cycles while they monitor the tumors.

So, from Monday to Thursday I spent time talking to friends and family. John and Jane were there to comfort me. John and I stayed up late each night talking about God, reading the bible and praying. What I have come to realize in the past few days is that God has given me a gift. I know that He walks through this valley with me and that he will take me around, over and through it no matter what and heal me. This is my chance to once again witness to His love, mercy, healing and His Gloriousness. He won't give me more than I can handle - He has a greater purpose for me.

I think that after my first round of cancer when I felt strong, confident and competent that I may have drifted from God and forgot who it was that got me here. Well, maybe not forgot but lost sight of what is important. And, the fact is I need God. I cannot do this alone. I never want to lose sight of that again.

Thursday morning came and Jane took me for my surgery. It went well, although I was still a little groggy from the anesthesia. Deborah showed up and it was like old home week. I gotta tell you though that as soon as they hooked me up, I fell asleep, snoring up a storm. When I awoke, everybody (nurses, patients, my friends) were all laughing at me. It seems that while I was snoozing, they took it upon themselves to color my toenails green. Those girls - you gotta love em.'

I will have chemo every week - three weeks on, one week off. The second drug they are going to use has side effects - pray for me. So far, I have had not side affects with the first drug. I will let you know how it goes next week.

I want to share something with you before I close for tonight. It is Psalm 91:1-7

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare of the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I am trusting Him. For He will rescue you from the fatal plague. He will shield you with his wings. He will shelter you with His feathers. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor fear the dangers of the day, nor dread the plague that stalks the darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at Midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.


This is a powerful promise of God's protection. I will not doubt that promise and I acknowledge my need for God. I am inviting Him into the center of my cancer.
I have always felt inadequate in someway when it came to praying. I have heard so many other people say it better, use the most beautiful words, and are always so eloquent. But what I know is that I may not be the best at anything but God knows my heart and sometimes the simplest, "I need you God" will suffice.
I love you all - God Bless.

3 comments:

AJ said...

Jim's mother? Nice. I think he should lose his license. ;-)

I love you sis... you are a fighter and if anyone can beat the snot out of this - it's you. God's right there with you.

PS - We all want to hug your doctor back.

Robert said...

Hi Donna,

You are in our thoughts. Thank you for sharing your faith and courage with us. Know that you are in our prayers. I just prayed for you now.

You and your family are such a good force in creation. I will be looking for updates.

Anonymous said...

Aunt Donna,
This past summer in the U.P. when we were walking the beach of Sandpoint with you and Uncle Jim, you talked about the bald eagle you saw from your hotel room. Your words described the beauty of the bird. You are like that eagle; strong, beautiful, and a creation of God. I think of you everyday. Fight! Love, your niece.