Tag Archives: Radiation

Cheryll’s Story , Part 2

Cheryll's Story... The cross is for my faith in God. The pink heart is for my compassion for others with breast cancer. The word 'hope' stands for always having HOPE. The pink ribbon is in honor those who lost their lives to breast cancer. The pink crystal is my reminder to stay grounded and stay in faith that God has this and every part of my life in his plan.
Cheryll’s Story…

This is part 2 of my sister’s story.  I admire her courage.

“Two days later, my gynecologist was calling me. The nurse told me that the doctor would call me, but I know something wasn’t right when I had a message from my gynecologist office. They called me on the 16th of Oct. to come into the office the next day. I told her that was impossible, I had started a new job in June and I can’t take the time. I told her to just let me know now. She kept saying you need to come in, after going back and forth she finally relented and said again, you know I don’t want to do this over the phone.

I told her I had cancer 23 years ago and I am going to act fast and attack, so… I said, ” Tell me now!!! ….I have breast cancer, right?” she said, “Pathology confirmed that you have breast cancer and I have an appointment set up for you tomorrow to see the surgeon”.

I thanked her.  I was shocked, but there is an underlying story and other things which are converging into this story which I can’t go into right now. I knew in that moment that the Lord was with me, without a doubt.  I was at work when she told me and for a brief second a tear came to my eyes and a big lump formed in my throat, but it was very short-lived. I shook it off, my boss asked if I was okay, I answered with a shaky voice, yes, are you sure she said,  and at that moment my yes was firm and sure, I was quite sure that all would be fine and I told her so. I had such peace, such knowing and no fear that I knew everything was going to be fine.

Later, I would end up telling my sister the same thing and she recognized that I had no fear. Again, other things were going on in the background, so I was confident and not fearful.  The next day I was in the surgeon’s office with my husband and my mom to discuss procedures. We reviewed options and a lumpectomy was a good choice. My cancer was stage 0 and had not broken out of the duct and had an intermediate growth rate. I really didn’t want surgery since the cancer had not broken out of the duct, but the doctor stressed the point that we can’t be sure that it didn’t spread. Cancer being what it is in microscopic form it could have traveled.

So far I felt that the news was fantastic and that proceeding with the surgery is the best precaution.  We met with the scheduling nurse and told her to get started with everything right away, I wanted this lumpectomy to be done before year-end. We set up the test within 2 weeks for the mapping, blood work and such on Nov 9, 2014. They also reviewed my lymph nodes to be sure we didn’t have to remove those also, which turned out to be fine.

The surgery was scheduled 3 weeks later for Dec 2, 2014. Everything went well, and again within a couple of days we found out that the lump had no cancer, not only within the ranges or the margins as it is called, but there was no cancer in the entire lump. This was of course a marvelous blessing.

There were many things going on in the background and I know that the Lord God had everything under control and that He had touched my body. I had a close friend pray for me and we claimed my healing in the name of Jesus which was towards the end of August after the initial meeting with the radiologists and I know again that all would be well.  A few weeks later as I was lying in bed praying, I felt the Lord touch my body and a beautiful sensation went through my chest and I knew without a doubt that I had been wiped clean.

Being human, we seem to wait to be told the news from doctors, surgeon and various professionals that all is well, but I knew all was well.  Now I had to go thru radiation to make sure that there was definitely no residual cancer left behind.  Precaution is the important word here. The surgeons nurse described this procedure as necessary, like using all the ingredients for a cake.  You cannot leave something out and get the recipe right, so radiation is the rest of the recipe.

Many things happen on several different levels in our lives, and it’s God working us, proving us, sharpening our faith , walking and talking to us , preparing us, so.. so.. so many things go on that we are blissfully unaware of until we see it all come together. Again these are the under currents in the Christian life.  They go on in the unseen spaces of our lives. I was shocked at first and there was a reason for that, yet I automatically knew all was going to be okay.

My sister Cheryll
My sister Cheryll

It was shock, then knowing immediately, no fear, no problem, I will be victorious only because the Lord God is in control and it’s all okay.  It is very simple, it doesn’t matter what the outcome is, I am going to be okay. The resolve was simply, I am okay whether I am in heaven or I am kept here for a while longer on the earth by His grace. I did not allow fear to disrupt my home life, my husband came home, I told him about the news, told him it’s going to be fine. He had a shaking in his voice, I said,  “ Ugh ugh, no It is going to be okay” and didn’t miss a beat, prepared dinner, sat down and continued to say It’s all okay. I am an attacker, we are going for it, so let’s not worry about it. That is just what we did and my husband was with me all the way. I am thankful and grateful for my mom who was a tower of strength. If she ever doubted, she didn’t let me know.  I am thankful for my husband.  He handled it well, and he did well because I handled it well, and I did well because God already handled it well. God handled everything to perfection.  Be blessed. Cheryll”

Thank you, Cheryll for sharing your story. I am so thankful that Cheryll shared her story.  I hope it helps someone you know.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be blessed.

Laura

A Lifetime of Valentine’s Day Memories

A Lifetime of (1)

There are so many Valentine memories that I want to share but I really want to focus on the years during my marriage to Doug.

Married

As a married couple, we always made an effort to go out on a special date and have a nice dinner.  Occasionally, Doug would send me roses.  I really like getting flowers for no reason so much more than an occasion.  It’s just more meaningful.

Married With Children – The Game Changer

Doug and I were married for six years before we were blessed with our first daughter.  Four years later God blessed us with another child. We were given two beautiful daughters to raise. WOW! That’s a huge responsibility. Our girls were dedicated in the church and we made a promise to God that we would raise them up in the way they should go. (Proverbs 22:6)

Once they were old enough to understand the celebration of Valentine’s Day, Doug and I decided that he would always give them a heart shaped box of Valentine candy. They received a little something from the both of us but when daddy came home, he had a special box of candy for them.

Kelsey, our youngest, remembers that when she turned 16, Daddy left her heart shaped box of candy in her truck so she saw it on her way to school. Their dad has always been there for them.   He treated them the way we wanted their future husbands to treat them.  He was the first man they turned to and will always be there for his girls.

Married – The Empty Nest

Doug and I are currently in the ‘Empty Nest’ phase of our lives.  We love to have different date nights.  One of my favorites we refer to as ‘Cheap Chinese In and Movie Night’. My definition of cheap Chinese is the Chinese take out restaurant at the local mini mall…  Chinese food to go. Love date night by the fire and a good movie.  Once in a while, we go out for dinner and a movie.

My all time favorite was when we grabbed Subway and a couple of chairs and watched the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico, It was after chemo and during radiation.  During that time, I wasn’t allowed to be in the sun and I love the sun, the beach, the sand and all things beachy.

Create Memories Everyday

Every day is a new opportunity to create memories and traditions. You write your story every day and write a bestseller.  You will have lasting memories and your children will have those memories as well.

For now, begin to create a lifetime of Valentine’s Day memories.

I invite you to follow me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.com.

Be Blessed.

Laura

Radiation Is Over…So What Now

(All of my blogs are exclusively my experience.  I am not a medical professional. This is my interpretation of my journey.)

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By the time I was scheduled to see Dr. Wonderful (Hematologist-Oncologist), radiation was over and I came through it with minimal side effects.

What’s next…

Dr. Wonderful immediately started me on a chemo pill, Arimidex.  The initial plan was to take it for 5 years as long as my bones, bone density and joints would allow.

Arimidex is a type of hormone therapy known as an Aromatase Inhibitor. How does Anastrozole work? Breast cancer is stimulated to grow by female hormones: estrogen and progesterone. Anastrozole (Arimidex) works to block the effects of the female hormones.

Okay…my view… the very hormone, estrogen, that defines you as a woman ends up globbing together with other estrogen cells to become breast cancer. So the very hormone that makes you a woman, trys to kill you. I hope you can infer that I find this entire concept, hideous, outrageous and unacceptable. However, I can’t change that so I will only give it this small paragraph.

I started Arimidex in October of 2009 and I was a trooper. I kept taking it even though it took a toll on my body:

  • By the end of the 12 hour workday, I could barely walk.
  • By Friday or Saturday, I hurt so bad that I could literally feel pain from every cell in my skin and it hurt.
  • It felt like someone was peeling my skin off.

With that said, I would take to the couch with my pain meds and heating pad.

Actually, compared to others, my symptoms were minimal. Four years into the medication, I spoke to Dr. Wonderful and she switched me to Femara in October of 2013. Femara is in the same category of medicine. It’s purpose is to block estrogen.  Even though October 2014 was my 5 year point, I still take Femara.  As long as it doesn’t effect my bone density, joints and ability to function, I will take it.

I am blessed because I was diagnosed with ER+ breast cancer so I have an additional chemo pill to block that estrogen.  I am too blessed to be stressed!  I’m alive so it’s a good day!

I invite you to follow me @ http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed!

Laura

 

July 2009…A Wonderful Time

Surgical Drains Removed

The surgical drains were finally removed on July 1, 2009.  To put it in perspective, my first surgery was June 3, 2009 and my second surgery, margin revision, was June 16, 2009. So for almost a full month, I had surgical drains.  I was so glad to be done with the drains! Goodbye drains…Hello radiation!  During July 2009, I continued Herceptin weekly and asked to be changed to a treatment plan of once every three weeks because I would return to school at the end of July. As an Assistant Principal, I had to report to work a couple of weeks before the teachers.

Wedding Plans Continued

Wedding plans continued during July.  I was trying to get all of the details together such as: programs, invitations, wedding favors and menu cards created or ordered because my eldest daughter was going to be married the following January.

 Kelsey Goes to UF

July 2009 was also full of preparation to send Kelsey, my youngest daughter, off to college. She was preparing to join the Gator Nation at The University of Florida (UF) in August, 2009.  In retrospect, July 2009 was the last month that we were all in the same house as a family unit and yet excitement for the girls future was the focus.

Kelsey at UF Orientation...Go Gators!
Kelsey at UF Orientation…Go Gators!

Radiation

I met with the radiologist who was also a female doctor along with all the doctors on my team. As she reviewed my chart, she said something along the lines of…you should do well. You had a ‘complete response to chemo’ to which I replied, “I call it my miracle”.  She smiled politely and went on to tell me that’s when the chemotherapy completely attacks the cancer cells.  Then we discussed the radiation plan.  I would have 35 rounds of radiation. That ends up to be 7 weeks, 5 times a week, give or take a holiday with the center closed.

I was scheduled for radiotherapy.  At that appointment I got two small pencil dot tatoos.  Those markings would be used to line me up under the machine so that the radiation would most effectively target the right area. The next day, I came back for a walk-through so that the technicians could set the machines and the following day radiation began.  I will admit that I was scared but as I drove there and laid there, I prayed continuously that it would work.

Once the preliminary visits were completed, it took me longer to drive there than it did to receive the treatment.  I was back at work and the Cancer Center scheduled me at 6 AM or 6 PM. I drove myself to and from radiation.  If it was the early morning appointment, I went straight to work from radiation.  I would joke every now and then that I was ‘glowing’ to ease the awkwardness in the office. When I was about 3/4 into treatment, I started to get sensitive skin but they gave me some cream and it was not a significant problem. I was a little tired but as a school administrator in August and September, it is expected.  I could not differentiate if it was caused by radiation.  I just kept going…one day at a time.

People always ask me…How did you do it…work through chemo, port complications and radiation?  My answer is…I was not alone.  I have a personal relationship with the ‘Great Physician’ who is God.  I trusted God to direct my doctors and to give me strength. Long before cancer my life verse was Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you…

I invite you to follow me on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/laurasjourneyofhope.

Be Blessed.

Laura

The Beginning of Hope

Life saving loofah..now retired
Life saving loofah..now retired

On December 31, 2008, I met with the Hematologist-Oncologist. She worked me in as her last appointment on New Years Eve day.  I did my research on her because choosing the right chemo doctor was a life saving decision.  She completed her fellowship at NYU and there were no sanctions or malpractice claims in the last 14 years.  She sounded perfect on paper.  The real test would come when I met her.

Waiting Room

As I sat there with Doug and my mom, I was prepared for the waiting room.  Once again it was full of people who looked desperate and there was a sense of oppression in the air.  After my last experience at the Oncologist, I went home and loaded praise and worship music on my MP3 player so I could zone out with my earplugs and music. I prayed silent prayers for everyone in the waiting room every time I went to the Cancer Center.  My mom wanted to talk but I just wasn’t in a state of mind for small talk and to be totally honest, I was scared.

HematologistOncologist

Laura Starner…..the nurse called my name.  This time Doug and my mom waited in the waiting room.  I promised Doug that I would take good notes.  I also had questions written out ahead of time. When the doctor entered the room she greeted me with a smile and a firm handshake.  She reviewed my chart and examined me.   She asked me how I found the lump under my arm (right axilla).  I told her the story of the loofah, leaving it across the bathroom and just putting gel on my hand.  She said, “Good job.”

Then she went into a lot of medical jargon stating that we need to get that port in because we need to start chemo ASAP.  Chemo before surgery would kill any cancer cells that may have spread beyond the lymph nodes even if they were not detected by imaging or laboratory tests.   Also, it could increase the chance of long-term survival by preventing a recurrence.

Treatment Plan

Adriamycin/Cyclophosphamide (AC) and Herceptin – 4 cycles …1 dose every two weeks to last a period of 2 months

Taxol and Herceptin – 4 cycles…1 dose every two weeks to last a period of 2 month

Herceptin – to continue for 1 year

Surgery – to be discussed after we see the effects of the chemo

Radiation – 35 rounds… after surgery

More Test

In addition to the PET scan already ordered, I would need a MUGA scan, which is a test to check how well the heart chamber (left ventricle) pumps blood through your body at rest.  It also determines the size and shape of your heart.  You see the AC chemo, affectionately known as the red devil, is very strenuous on the heart.  I would also need an echocardiogram every 3 months to monitor my heart health.

Working Through Chemo

The doctor was positive and confident that we were going to take care of this.  I asked if I could continue to work through chemo and she said that she had many patients who work through chemo and absolutely encouraged me to continue working.  It was my decision.

As I left the exam room and joined Doug and my mom in the waiting room, I was smiling, the exact opposite of the way I felt just two days ago. They looked puzzled.  I said, “She’s wonderful, kind and we have a plan.  Everything is going to be okay.”  I was relieved and confident that God led me to the best doctor.