Those two little words together can pack a real, hard punch if you let them. And boy oh boy….did I let them. I am going to be 100% honest here and say…August and September were pretty brutal for both Steve and I. I never truly realized how much we rely on each other for strength. Or maybe the better way to say that—I never really realized how much I looked to my husband for strength until these past couple of months. We were BOTH in a funk and just couldn’t seem to get the flip out of it. And to put it bluntly…it sucked. It plain old sucked. Feeling miserable mentally, physically, emotionally…sucks. Why were these last two months pretty brutal? I can sum it up in two small, HUGE words—What. If.
August 30th was my Y90 treatment—the noninvasive, very targeted, very strong radiation therapy on my liver. The hope is that it kills the tumors that are still active, and basically that it kills the entire right lobe of my liver so we can hack it off in the future (to put it nicely 😉 ). If you remember from my last update--according to the radiologist, this happening would be nothing short of a miracle. That being said—we’re still praying that part of my liver dies and this is able to happen. But anyways, back to August.
So before this Y90 treatment, we were pretty much consumed by doctor appointments and getting ready for school to start, all while trying to soak up every last bit of summer we could. But…we also got nailed with nasty sickness in our house—which lasted, for me at least, about 5 weeks. So not only did I have a completely ‘new to me’ treatment plan, along with continued chemo every other week, I had this nasty bronchitis/cold that lingered for 5 weeks. Let me tell you...dealing with that sickness, along with chemo, along with the side effects of the Y90 (the fatigue hit me HARD, as well as nausea) and wouldn't ya know it--the good old rash in all its painful, red, and itchy glory (that I can get as a fun, little side effect from one of the chemo drugs) came for a visit to my face as well. I was already feeling run down physically… and the new treatment just added more mental and emotional anguish. And… to add to emotional stuff…I was sending my firstborn off to Kindergarten—where she would be away all day, every day, for the first time in over 5 years. The time leading up to that first day--I was highly emotional. I will let you know that I got over that, that very first day of Kindergarten--hahaaa! August is also my 2 year anniversary of when I received my diagnosis—and again, with the survival rate being 3-5 years for my diagnosis… just icing on the cake. I have been mentally…physically….emotionally…exhausted.
This Y90 also brought along the ever so lovely… ‘What If’s.’ What if this doesn’t work? What if…this is the treatment that has no affect whatsoever…then what? Clinical trials next? What if there isn’t much left for me to do besides clinical trials? What if I’m nearing the end of my options? What if I don’t get to see my kids grow? What if I don’t get to grow old my husband? What if….what if…what if. And the frustrating part of all of this—I could always pull myself out of that rut by asking the other ‘What if’ questions like—What IF this treatment works? What IF…the plan Dr. D is excited about works out? WHAT IF…God shows His power and this big miracle happens? What if….what if…WHAT the ever-loving IF. I like these what if’s MUCH better. But even that…even with trying to turn to that thinking…I just couldn’t get out of my own head.
Another thing that I was absolutely terrible with these last couple of months? My diet. Something that I believe so strongly in, something that makes me 100% mentally and physically better, is my diet of mostly veggies. That definitely went out the window. I was very nauseous with this treatment so it was hard to stomach much…and the very last thing I could even think about doing…was eating veggies or juicing. I couldn’t keep my supplements down either. These are all things that I believe have helped tremendously these past 2 years, so for me to pretty much be completely off my game… was terrible! Terrible for me…terrible for Steve…mentally. AND…when I finally was craving my veggies, I sautéed a delicious batch of brussel sprouts, asparagus, mushrooms, and kale—devoured it—what happens the very next day? I end up in the ER. It was almost laughable at this point—except that it wasn’t. I was in SO much pain. I didn’t know what was going on. Thankfully, I had planned on going out and about with two of my kids and my mom so she was already here when it happened. I had such intense pain, I was sweating. She was putting cool rags on my forehead as I just yelled out in pain, moving from side to side-- and then those two words. WHAT IF. ‘What if the cancer is just exploding right now? Getting out of control?! Again…what if this treatment doesn’t touch it..at all? Then what?’ Thankfully…I got to the ER, and after about 2 hours of consistent pain, I burped (yup…burped) and I felt a little relief. So… obviously it was a bout of really bad gas pain. Thank you, veggies! Every pain needs to be taken seriously unfortunately...but what a relief. I just remember saying over and over again, “Please, God, let it be nothing major…let it be nothing major. Pleeeeaaaaase just some relief. I need some sort of relief.” Pretty miserable, but in the end… I overdid it on the veggies. Whew.
To say I was miserable is probably an understatement. One of my biggest things in this life is wasting time on being miserable. I don’t like to use the word ‘hate.' In fact, little side story…my son, Wyatt, said last Sunday that he HATED the Packers. Woah, woooaaah—hold up, kid. We don’t use the word ‘hate.’ You can say “dislike” (and even that’s iffy when it comes to the Packers… 😉 buuuut he is a Bears fan like his daddy so ya know). Anyways. I’m going to use it here-- I HATE being miserable. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think ANYONE wants to be miserable…but it is a mindset. It is a choice. If you’re miserable, only you can take that step to do something about it. I am so very thankful that I have people in my life that I can talk to—friends, family, those I met on this journey that are going through something very similar to what I’m going through—and knowing that I can, at any time, set up a time to meet with my Pastor to talk about stuff (which I will probably do very soon, just a heads up if you’re reading this Pastor Tim 😉). Steve and I talk about it—and often—how freaking blessed we are, how good it feels to have our church and school family. We’d be lost without both. We’re super comfortable with being ourselves with everyone—and I believe that speaks multitudes.
But, as with everything we’ve been through, there has been sooooo much we can be-- and are--thankful about. Sometimes when things get really dark, it’s difficult to see any good--it can be near impossible to see anything but the dark. But, I’d be willing to bet if you looked and listened very, very closely….you could find it. You could find the good. Other times when you’re in the dark, the good can be pretty apparent. In this time of darkness in our lives, the good was shining bright. It was and continues to be an overwhelming, bright light. In these hard times, people came together in countless ways to show their support for us. There was a very much appreciated prayer circle planned out for our family (and I wholeheartedly BELIEVE in the power of prayer, the power of many prayers--and am so thankful for all of yours), fundraisers, people sending countless words of encouragement, Scripture passages, sending me quotes (I loooove some good, strong quotes), among many other things. I can honestly say the good…has yet again outweighed the bad.
There is a certain Bible passage that kept coming to my mind when all of this was going on…and by all of this I mean all the worrying and all the good:
Matthew 6:26-27 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
God, somehow and in some way, provides in all circumstances of life. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Read that again. And again. And then again. I’ve had to remind myself of this constantly. It’s hard to stay down…when you’re picked up by Him and His people time and time again.
So. There it is--the pretty brutal couple of months that are now behind us. It’s safe to say we’re on the upswing—I can feel it. I’m excited to get back on track with everything—diet, supplements, juicing. I’m slowly but surely learning to give myself a break when I’m not 100% with everything I believe in when it comes to my nutrition and diet. It can be very hard to stick to when going through these treatments, but I know it’s so worth it because I can FEEL it. Believe it or not, your diet and what you fuel your body has direct impact on your mental status. Sticking to good, whole foods instead of junk has great impact and is what your body needs and craves. When I’m off my diet game, I’m just that…off.
Now what next? Well…I continue with the current chemo regimen—still an infusion every other week with the chemo pills 7 days on, 7 days off. I’ll be scheduled for a CT scan within the next 2-4 weeks to check to see if the Y90 is working—it takes a bit to work so they like to wait about 2 months or so to scan. What happens after the scan? That’s based on what the scan tells us. There could be a second Y90 treatment done to the other lobe of my liver I believe. We just continue to pray that it works.
And last, but certainly not least, I have to say THANK YOU again—for all of your love and support as always. <3
Hope & Pray.