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cancer journey

Cancer Journey/ HEALTH

Abs, Core & Pelvic Floor -Menopause, Pelvic Floor & A Health Update

I am in the middle of a 30 day Abs, Core & Pelvic Floor program and I am giddy. I have hope for the first time in a long time that broken areas of this body of mine can be fixed!

My abs definitely could use some strengthening, but what intrigued me the most about this program was the hope that it could strengthen my pelvic floor, where I feel most ‘broken.’

Do you have broken areas? Do you have a gap between your abs that now bulges from pregnancy? That is very common and called Diastasis Recti.

Do you wet your pants a little when you laugh, sneeze, cough or jump? Or like me, is it hard to hold it when you gotta go? Strengthening pelvic floor muscles can do wonders, and this program gives much better solutions than the typical advice of “just do your Kegels!”

I’ve had 3 babies. I’m 42. I’ve been in menopause since the age of 36 due to breast cancer treatment. All of these things have weakened my pelvic floor muscles.

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Cancer Journey/ HEALTH

A Bump in the Road on this Journey with Breast Cancer – A Health Update

My Cancer Journey a Health Update

I will start by saying it was just a bump in this journey of breast cancer. I’m ok, no worries my friends!

I get why those who have experienced breast cancer (or any cancer for that matter) often call it a journey. It is.  I can only speak as one who has had breast cancer, and even now, almost 7 years out from diagnosis, it is still a daily part of my life.

The fear of cancer is not a daily part, although it does creep up and sometimes roars when lumps or bumps are found. Even when they are not found, there is a healthy fear that drives this cancer journey and helps one stay alert.

It would be so great to think about cancer as just a bump in the road, a “blip on the screen,” just a year or two of my life story, but that is not how breast cancer works. How I wish for myself and those I love on the same road to be able to put the past behind and never have to think about it again.

But that would be ignorant. Not wise. Life-threatening.

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Cancer Journey/ HEALTH

Cancer Journal Night Before My Mastectomy

Cancer Journal - The Night Before My Mastectomy

I recently opened my cancer journal on my Caring Bridge site for the first time in quite a while. Thankfully, I was not opening it to start another entry informing you of sickness. I am healthy.

Yes, I am healthy, yet cancer is still very much a part of my world. I have ongoing hormonal treatment which keeps it in the forefront of my mind, nightly when I swallow down cancer meds and every 3 months when I get an anti-cancer injection.

Cancer is a part of my story and the story of many that I love. I have dear friends who have found remission and who are fighting to stay there, who allow me to enter in and be a part of their fight and stories.  I also have many of you who write me and tell me of your own stories, whether it is about you or your loved ones, you share with me and I pray for you.

Yes, cancer is part of my story and always will be, and that is ok with me.  It is a part that has brought many fears and tears, but also such sweet, sweet gifts; the most precious of these gifts in the form of some of my closest friends. Without cancer, I would not know them, and I would not want to walk this life without them in it.

I visited my cancer journal with the idea of consolidating the entries (along with many cancer posts I wrote for this blog) to create an ebook. I’ve had many people who are just starting out on their own cancer journey ask where they can read my story, and sending them to my Caring Bridge site has been the only answer so far.

I cringe every time I do because I know it is not an easy platform to read my words. You have to click on every entry to read, and it is easy to get lost in it. It is not a convenient way to read my story or leave my words for my girls to read someday. I’d rather have them in book form–one that I have control of– not a platform that could go away at any point. Hence my desire to write an ebook.

Looking back on bits of my cancer journal has brought on all the feels! I thought I would share the entry that I wrote the night before my mastectomy with you.


Cancer Journal - The Night Before My Mastectomy

Cancer Journal

The Night Before My Mastectomy

Surgery time is finally here.  I’ll be honest, I’m scared and nervous.  My way of dealing with it today has been to not think about it and focus on the house and my girls.  I’m about to watch a movie with Todd to distract me, then a sleeping pill, and before I know it, it will be 5:30 a.m and I will be standing in front of admissions at the hospital. I do have to shower between now and then, so I will have some time with God in there and say goodbye to my chest.  How weird.

My girls really struggled tonight.  We ate an awesome meal that was made with love for us, and watched a show.  Right when the show ended, all three girls started crying!  They knew it was time to say goodbye and go to Grandpa and Grandma’s house for a sleepover. They seemed to have a harder time with the idea of surgery than they even had when we first told them I had cancer.  It broke my heart.  I felt almost a sense of guilt as I saw them hurt, feeling it is my fault that they are hurting because this is happening to me.  I know that is all messed up thinking..

My in-laws are great.  They had us in and took time to read the Scriptures and pray with us.  That was so very comforting to us all.  Not heavy, just a few minutes to hear the truth of God’s Word.  Don (my father-in-law) read a couple of Psalms, and it was like a salve for my heart.  While he was praying, his words “Lord, we know she is in your hands”  rang loud in my mind and was the exact, simple truth I needed to cling to in those moments.

Kathy (my mother-in-law) had beautiful cupcakes sitting on the counter, which was the perfect distraction for my girls as we left. We got a message a few minutes ago that let us know they were not upset anymore and are doing fine.

I have so many, many people who have contacted me.  Friends, family and strangers–telling me they are praying.

So neat.

I had a lady I have never met email me today to tell me she woke in the night last night and I was on her mind, which caused her to pray for me that moment!  God is taking care of me through all of you.

I love you all.  I am so grateful.
Todd will update this site tomorrow and let you all know how it goes.

PS BY NOON TOMORROW I WILL HAVE CLEAVAGE!!!  Lol.  Hee hee.


I wrote that 5 years ago, and I am sitting here 5 years later with cleavage and cancer free! I’m so very thankful.

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Cancer Journey/ HEALTH

Cancer Health Update-Scan is Negative!

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I wrote a cancer health update post last Wednesday, letting you all know my Oncologist had found a lump on my neck & ordered a CT scan of my brain, neck and chest. The results came quickly thanks to a brand new scan location that has state of the art scanning and results within 24 hours.  I called my doctor on Friday and the nurse read the results:

ALL SCANS NEGATIVE FOR CANCER.  NO SIGN OF CANCER.

I am so thankful. I am so relieved.  Honestly, I was bracing myself this time. I think it was because of how it took me off guard that my doctor felt something that I had no idea about.  Usually I am pretty in tune with my body & any lumps and bumps it might have.  I had no clue there was a swollen node in my neck.  We still don’t know why it is swollen, but at least we know there is no evidence of growing disease. I was also bracing myself for the worst because of the location of the node. The neck is not a place you want cancer to come back in, as it places you in an automatic stage iv.

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Cancer Journey/ HEALTH/ Spiritual

A Cancer Health Update – Prayers Needed

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I sit writing this, with big, fat, snowflakes falling outside and Christmas music playing inside.  I feel at peace in this moment.

The last few days I have fluctuated between feelings of anxiety and feelings of peace. More peace than worry, for we have been in this place of waiting before, but this time it feel different.  Heavier.

I went to see my Oncologist last week for a routine checkup.  I was expecting to be in and out of there quickly, as I have been feeling much better compared to this summer, and have even gained weight, which was truly a comfort to me.

My doctor came in and congratulated me on reaching the 5 year mark.  She said it is encouraging, but also cautioned that as a grade 3 breast cancer survivor, she can never use the word “cured.” Regardless, there was a lightness about her and lots of smiles. She commented on my 5 pound weight gain and said my “eyes and cheeks look so much better..filled out instead of sunk in.” Why, thankyouverymuch! This made me smile.

She did her usual routine check, her capable hands sweeping over my body, feeling for lumps and bumps.  She runs her fingers along my lymph lines, a familiar path she takes every checkup, but this time they paused at the left side of my neck. I remember a short pause in that very spot 3 months ago during my last exam.  During that exam she asked me to come back in 3 months instead of the usual 6, due to my weight loss and unexplained nausea.  I had moved on from worrying about my physical symptoms, thinking it was not anything to do with cancer and blamed anxiety that I have been fighting this past year.  It has been in the back of my head that I am still experiencing morning nausea if I don’t take anti-nausea medication, but the meds work so well it is easy to just continue on and forget the extreme of my illness this past summer.

It could still blame it on anxiety, and it very well may be, but her hand stayed on my neck, and I knew she had found something that made her eyes turn concerned. And then she voiced concern.

It is a hard lymph node, higher up in my neck, a bit below my ear. It feels hard as a pebble & stagnant. She also found another node under my right arm, but that one was less concerning as it was soft and movable, although swollen.

The lightness in the room turned heavy, and she said she wants a CT scan done right after the holiday weekend.

This was 2 days before Thanksgiving, and I have been concentrating on inhaling and exhaling and trying to find my thankful in the perspective that facing one’s mortality brings. It is a love/hate thing, this facing. It is a scary place, one that I want to deny and turn away from, but it just turns with me and follows me, front and center, in my face. On my neck.

It is also a precious perspective, for we all are mortal, and every day is such a beautiful and delicate gift and I GET IT, but I lose it in the comfort of the absence of lumps, bumps & scans.

My CT scan of the brain, neck and chest is scheduled for Thursday, 12-3-15.

CT-Scan

I am afraid. I do not like looking on the insides. Especially the insides of my head.

We sat as a family and explained all that is happening to our 3 girls. They are sweet and strong & asked all the right questions. A few tears due to the unknown and scary, but they were very brave tears. This world of cancer has been their world most of their growing up years, and I know God is faithful in working it out for their good–this news and the waiting that they endure. I am the proudest of Moms.

If this node does contain cancer, the location of it makes it tricky. It places me at an automatic stage IV, and that is what brings the heavy. Nodes above the collar-bone have their own entitlement to staging–who knew? We do now.

I am hopeful for the all clear, and then I will go on and not waste this deep knowing, this reminder of how quickly life can go from ordinary to not, and how each moment is truly a gift.  I will continue to work out anxiety and do what it takes to overcome it.  I will continue to find my voice once again during this hard season.

I know I am not alone in these hard seasons of life.  I know so many of you are facing your own bumps that bring on the heavy.  I pray that we all remember that we have HOPE, especially in this advent season. It is a season of waiting on the one who comes whose name is Emmanuel, which means GOD WITH US.  This is my hope. It is a real, true hope, one that overcomes the heavy.  Yes, He is with us. He is holding me, holding you, and holds the heavy so we don’t have to.

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Want to join me in advent?  I am following along with IF:EQUIP.  If you sign up, you will get a daily email that will walk you through this Christmas season & will point us all toward true hope.

I will keep you all informed.  Be sure to follow my social channels (instagram, facebook, twitter) as I usually am able to get to them before getting to writing a full post.  I expect results from the CT scan the second week in December, hopefully by the 9th or 10th.

Love to you all!

5 Minute Fridays/ Cancer Journey/ HEALTH/ Spiritual

Health Is A Gift – 5 Minute Friday and A Health Update

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Participating in  5 Minute Fridays. 5 minutes to write about one word. Unedited.
This week’s word: GIFT
………………..
GO:

Health is a gift.

On Tuesday I had a CT scan and a bone scan, as it had been 2 years and I have been having health problems.

On Wednesday I get the call that they saw no evidence of disease. Such a gift!  I rejoice.

On June 17 I will meet with a Gastroenterologist and there will be more looking on the insides for answers. Oncologist tells me they have tests that can show what scans can miss, and maybe answer questions. Why weight loss? Why the daily nausea and digestive issues? I hope to get some answers.

Appetite is a gift.

Stomach growling is a gift.

Even weight gain is a gift when one sees the scale sliding down, down, down and has no idea why.

But here is where I really want to be.

I want to be in the place where all is a gift, embracing all that God has allowed to go through His hands and onto me, His child.

Even the hard stuff.

I’m not there yet…not even close.

When cancer treatment caused the symptoms, I was closer, as symptoms were expected and let up in time.

In this unexpected and unknown, it has been harder.

I want easy and let’s get real honest, I want perfect. I fight perfectionism, a battle that has crept back up.

I am being stripped of perceived perfect and that is a gift.

I feel like I’m flailing and falling through this life of nausea, just wanting stillness.

And the I get a glimpse, on Wednesday, when girlfriends surround and make a cross on my forehead with anointing oil and pray to our great God for answers and healing and ultimately, His will– whatever that might be.

With hands laid, prayers lifted, a breeze coming through the open window and robins chirping, I find not what I want, which is health, but what I need.

The gift of stillness.

STOP.

…………….

Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Cancer Journey/ HEALTH/ Music Renews/ Spiritual

A Health Update & The Best Girlfriends

Hello & Health Update

I have this special group of girlfriends.  We are not able to get together as a whole very often, but when we do–world watch out! We wine, dine & “go there,”  opening up our worlds and hearts to each other, knowing it is one of the safest places to do so.

Because we are not able to get together often, much of this opening of hearts and worlds happens in a Facebook group that we have formed.  It is the place of many smiles and inside jokes, but most often it is the place where we place our prayer requests.

After I wrote this health update, I let my sweet group of friends know about it and asked them to pray for me.  For some reason it took me longer than usual to update them.  I’ve been quiet, a bit withdrawn.  I blame nausea for this. When it lasts at least half the day, it seems to take me the rest of the day to recover emotionally, and then it starts over the next day. So, it has made me quiet.  And tired.  I spin my wheels trying to keep up with life, most of the time in a weird spot of wanting to be busy but being so very tired from just putting one foot in front of the other and a smile on, yet, busyness has brought relief. My girls keep me busy and driving them around is about the only thing that feels normal right now as my body sure doesn’t. And since I’m being honest I suppose it took me a bit to ask for prayer as there is a part of me that is not just physically tired but also tired of being the ‘sick girl.’

I want to be well and strong and happy and fun!

Sometimes life has other plans and they are not fun.

But here is the deal.  God shows up even in the ‘not fun.’  He does.  I’m in the middle of typing this not-so-fun post and my Facebook messenger dings and it is one of my girlfriends from the said Facebook group, who has been praying for a job but that prayer is not yet answered so she has time and wants to be with me during my upcoming scans.  This is the first time I have not asked anyone to come with me.  I am not sure why, it’s just that ‘quiet’ thing I guess. This new ‘a-bit-withdrawn’ me.  Not really knowing what I need or will want moment-by-moment but God sure does.  I’m not sure if we can work it out for her to be there, but just knowing she was willing was a God-kiss for me.

The responses I got from my sweet friends in my Facebook group were so dear. One tells me she is “praying peace over and around” me.  Another sent me the song I post below that just soothed me and was what I needed to hear. It really hit me while listening to it how I’ve been consumed with trying to solve the mystery of my health, trying to figure out why I have been feeling so sick, instead of just resting and trusting. I confessed my anxiety to the group and she also reminded me to hold every thought captive & worship, worship, worship our God. What better advice could one give? I needed it and my heart received it. Such sweet love.

By the time I finished this post my sweet friend group offered to come by an evening this week to pray for me, led by one who told me she has been praying Luke 7:50 at 7:50 a.m. for me every morning since writing my last ‘health update’ post. Yeah, overwhelming love.

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So scans.  It has been 2 years and my Oncologist wants to look inside and make sure we are not missing anything with my new symptoms of nausea, weight loss and fatigue.  She is also giving me a month-long break from my cancer meds, including my dreaded monthly shot that places an implant under my skin each month to shut my ovaries down. She wants to see if that is what is causing the symptoms.  My next one is due on Friday so if I start having relief from symptoms around that time then maybe the cancer meds are the culprits.  If so, well, that is another post, and I will keep you  updated.

In the meantime, I’m going to obey my girlfriends and trust our very trustworthy God and worship, worship, worship!

Psalms 59:16 But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.

 

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 Trust

noun
  1. 1.
    firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

 

 I Will Trust In You

by Lauren Dangle

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior, King of the fight
No matter what I face, You’re by my side

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen

So, in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation; the rock on which I stand

Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go, You’ve not already stood

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

I will trust in You!

 

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