“It’s Gone!”

Dr. Moore & I

I heard the words, “it’s gone” back in mid-February. Praise the Lord! I am forever grateful to my incredible medical team, gifted surgeon, Dr. Lowery and talented oncologist, Dr. Moore. I’m grateful to my family, friends, and co-workers who have all been super supportive and encouraging these last six months.

I will continue to be seen regularly and have routine blood work done monthly, a couple of scans a year and my tumor marker test quarterly. I’m on an oral chemotherapy drug now, specifically designed to prevent the cancer from returning in bRCA mutation type cancer patients. Please pray for my nausea to subside from this medication and for it to do it’s job.

“I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.” Psalms 9:1


Faces of a Warrior

Every warrior’s greatest fear is failure, but the greatest pain is regret. Of course you think of failure when faced with adversity, but I decided in the beginning I was a warrior and I didn’t want to have any regrets. And that meant doing what I was instructed to do with the utmost trust in my care team.

I quickly learned that I was in a battle. And the landscape of that battle changed from week to week. Whether I was facing hair loss, side effects from chemo, recovery from surgery, or just being fatigued, I was battling. Part of that battle is learning to stand your ground and fight, to keep pushing when you’re not sure you can. Cowering isn’t an option. Whatever the battle is, work conflict, a difficult conversation, making a tough decision, saying YES to something when you really want to say NO – I encourage you face it head on, lean into it and know you’re a warrior.

Leaning in also means having the a heart of a warrior. I found it important to continue to fill my cup up in meaningful ways by caring for those around me, by continuing to work and spending time with family and friends. This fuel gave me purpose and encouragement for persistence in times of challenge.

I am glad to say that I’m done with my six rounds of chemotherapy as of yesterday. I see my oncologist in three weeks to get information on my survival plan and maintenance drug therapy. The photos above were taken by Cam at the start of chemo each time. I’m glad he captured them and I’m glad to see I was smiling in them too. I have tried to choose positivity throughout this journey, not saying I was never down, but I kept my eye on the end result – winning the battle. ❤️

Here’s to a GREAT 2020!

This is a sweet photo of me and my dad on Christmas Day that my sister snapped. I had no idea that she had taken the photo until she randomly sent it to me a few days later. I had pulled off my hat and laughed that my dad and I could be twins! Yes, my hair is coming in and yes…it’s silvery white and straight so far. I’m just glad it is coming back in.

Because I had chemo on December 13th, I was able to enjoy the holidays with my family and felt great. I’m definitely grateful that I was able to go to both my husband’s family and my family for Christmas. We had a great Christmas morning with Cale, Conner, Cam and I. I’m also grateful that I continued to feel well enough to celebrate the New Year with a night out with Cam.

I had chemo 5 of 6 today! I’m happy that I am so close to being done and definitely pleased that my tumor marker is extremely low and in the normal range compared to when I was first diagnosed. This definitely demonstrates that I am headed in the right direction. I can’t express enough gratitude to the cancer care team at Community Howard Regional Cancer Center. They have taken exceptional care of me.

I appreciate continued prayers for complete resolution as well as the strength and comfort to get through the side effects of these last two treatments. Here’s to a GREAT 2020! I am excited to see what this year holds in store for me and my family.

Back at it again

Howard Operations Team Christmas Party 12.10.19

I haven’t posted in awhile so this is a catch up! My surgical pathology results came back negative for any viable malignancy and I was released to return to work on this past Monday! Thank goodness too, because I was starting to be bored out of my mind! I had a great week at work and I’ve been feeling awesome with lots of energy.

I start back on chemo today to finish out my last three sessions. The next two are January 3 and 24 and then we will meet with the oncologist to discuss the long-term survival plan.

I could use prayers and positive thoughts over these next chemo treatments that they go well and that I am able to continue to work without too many side effects.

Life is good! Enjoy the holidays with your families and friends!

Just saying “hi”

As many of you know, I had surgery last Monday to remove any residual cancer that was remaining. Surgery did go as planned. Actually, better than planned. The CT from November 6th showed a significant reduction and marked improvement in the cancer and that’s exactly what my surgeon saw once he got inside my abdomen during surgery. There was nothing left to get other than the omentum (which had to go). The surgeon performed a robotic omentectomy and I ended up spending one night in the hospital.

I feel pretty darn good a week out from surgery. I do have five incisions, but all are healing well and I’m up and moving around with minimal pain at this point. God is great! The outcomes and results from the treatment are amazing and heading into Thanksgiving, I am truly grateful.

I will go back to both the surgeon and my medical oncologist the week of December 1st and hope to be released both to go back to work (I’m getting bored pretty quickly) and to begin my last three rounds of chemo.

Much gratitude and appreciation for your prayers, positive thoughts and love.

The Lord who does it, the Lord who forms it to establish it – the Lord is his name says: “Call to me and I will answer you, and will show you great and difficult things, which you don’t know.” Jeremiah 33:2-3

CT Results

Just a quick and simple update tonight. I received encouraging news today from my CT results. The scan showed MARKED improvement and near resolution. Yes, marked! Meaning it’s nearly gone with the first three rounds of chemo. Stage 3, nearly gone. They will go in and get what’s left during surgery on November 18th. Then I will have an additional three rounds of chemo. Thank you for your continued prayers, positive thoughts, cards, texts, and well wishes.

Wigs, Hats, & Eyelashes

Early on, as in the first weekend after I was diagnosed, my awesome sister Megan and one of my besties Telina went with me wig shopping. Believe it or not, there are not a lot of wig shops in Indiana. I stumbled along a pretty fantastic one in Greenwood, Wigs We Care. They had over 100 wigs on the walls to try on and the ladies that were working were fantastic. They measured you, provided suggestions on other things you would need, and taught you how to care for your wigs. I ended up buying two wigs (not the one pictured above) and a couple of hats. If you or a loved one are in the market for a wig you should definitely check them out.

The following week on September 13th, I had my first chemo. And like clockwork, around day 11 on a Tuesday, my hair started falling out. Maybe it’s therapeutic for me to write about it now, but losing my hair was honestly one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through. By day 14, my hair was falling out in huge amounts. That night at the football game, the wind caught it and a huge nest of it flew down the bleachers and landed on someone! Not cool. And by day 15, I looked like I had mange. In hindsight, I wish I would have shaved it off the day it started falling out, but I kept thinking…”just hang on to it as long as possible.” Unfortunately, it was very traumatic for me every day to see more and more of it coming out. To lose your hair also creates a sense of concreteness to what’s happening to you. It’s real.

I tried to wear my wigs that next week, but my scalp was so raw and despite paying for higher end wigs with laced caps – they were hot and irritating! I ditched them by the end of the week and started wearing hats and I haven’t gone back. Again, my husband gave me encouragement and told me just to go for it and rock it. That encouragement is all I needed to keep moving forward. The hats are so much better than the wigs!

And then fast forward to today. I looked in the mirror after my shower and went to put some mascara on and noticed HALF my eyelashes are gone! I knew it was a possibility, 50/50 really. I read the side effects of chemo, but I hoped so hard that I wouldn’t lose my eyelashes. Somehow, losing my eyelashes is even harder than my hair. Someone else going through chemo told me it was harder for them too. Maybe for me, it is because I’ve grown used to seeing myself bald or maybe I just don’t know why it’s so hard but it is. And it sucks.

Despite the challenges, there are blessings. I am extremely blessed to have a sister and friend who would take an entire Saturday to drive me clear to Greenwood to wig shop and spend time with me. I’m blessed to have a husband who encourages me every day that I can do this. The absolute positive of making to day 15 was that Cam had suggested we take some family photos before I lost my hair and I made it! It was such a sweet and thoughtful idea and I’m so glad that I had enough hair for the photos. I was blessed to have received a beautiful hat from my friend Kristen, the very week I was losing my hair. She sent it with a note that she heard I might get cold (I’m rarely cold and she is always cold, which is a joke between us) once I lost my hair. Her note brought me to tears and made me feel loved. My friend Roma knitted me up a beautiful blue hat that is extremely soft and I love the color, but the best part was it arrived in the mail when I was having a really rough day. And lastly today as I look at myself in the mirror, missing eyelashes, I reach down into my makeup basket and pull out Eyelure. You see I’m blessed that my sister Megan had the forethought to take me to Ulta on the Sunday she went with me to shave my head and bought me the magnetic eyeliner and lash kit. She did this so I wouldn’t be unprepared. So I would have a plan.

Much like purchasing wigs early on, I have to have a plan. It’s how I live and work. I like to execute on plans. Having a plan is a blessing and provides comfort to me. God has a plan for me. I do not know what it is yet, but I trust he will reveal it to me when it is time. All along the way over the past 10 weeks I have felt his presence and have received many blessings. So many friends have sent care packages, meals, notes, texts, love, and support and I am reminded that despite the challenges there is so much to be grateful for…every day.

Next Steps…

I have a lot going on this week in preparation for surgery on November 18th. Tomorrow is my pre-op intensivist appointment to be cleared for surgery and Wednesday is a big day as my first CT post starting chemo is scheduled. Please pray that the chemotherapy has done its job and that there is little or no remaining cancer on the scan. I will get the results on Thursday when I see my oncologist.

I’ve had a rough week post this last (3rd) chemo treatment, experiencing lots of pain and nausea on top of fighting an infection. Please pray that I will get some relief and be on the upswing for the next couple of weeks so that I am in good health for surgery.

I’m grateful for all the positive thoughts, prayers and support that my family and I are receiving. Thank you!

Friends

I can’t imagine going through this journey without friends. I have had such an outpouring of love and support from friends in all aspects of my work, community, and life that it has been overwhelming to feel so loved. I know I am on countless prayer lists and on many hearts and minds. This gives me such comfort to know that I have such a strong support group behind me all the way! I’m continuously grateful.

Ovarian Cancer

Pathology stain of serous ovarian cancer

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

What is ovarian cancer and how do you get it without ovaries? There’s a lot of information out there on the web as I found out early on. Some of it more reliable than others. After a lot of scary information, I decided to quit web-surfing. For any information about cancer, you need a reliable source. My go-tos are the American Cancer Society website https://www.cancer.org/ or the MD Anderson site https://www.mdanderson.org/.

Unfortunately, you can get ovarian cancer without having ovaries. It’s possible at some point cells from the ovaries or Fallopian tubes can migrate to other areas inside the abdomen and then at some point in time decide to grow into cancerous cells. This is what happened in my case. My cancer is not a solid tumor, it’s small spots on the inside of the abdominal wall. So my treatment plan consists of three rounds of chemo, then surgery to remove any remaining cancer, followed by an additional three rounds of chemo. Then I hope to be in remission and able to go on a new drug specifically for patients with a BRCA gene mutation called a parp inhibitor. This drug has shown promise in improving long-term survival rates for those with ovarian cancer. I’m looking forward to this day!