Deep Couch Sitting

Most of you have seen the Swiffer commercial with Big Jerry – the dad who has a rambunctious son that doesn’t allow him much time to sit down and do any “deep couch sitting”!  I like that term “deep couch sitting”!  It always made me chuckle.

Well…..let me tell ya……the past two days, I have done some “deep couch sitting”.  Tuesday night, I wrote out a list of 5-6 things I wanted to accomplish on Wednesday.  Nothing major – send some emails, write some checks, a few menial tasks that surely I could cross off my list by lunch time the next day.

Yeah……not so much!

As soon as I got out of bed, my stomach was giving me a fit.  Not the way you want to crawl out of bed already feeling yucky.  I walked to the kitchen, made some coffee and plopped down on the couch.  Hoping if I somehow “eased” my way into Wednesday, my tummy would come around.  Three trips to the bathroom by 10:30am is not ideal when you didn’t get up until 8:00ish.  Imodium is my new best friend……this week.  I hope it’s a short lived friendship!  Other than taking a shower – I spent ALL DAY Tuesday on the couch.  I was doing some “deep couch sitting” and “deep couch lounging”! And you know what – I am COMPLETELY okay with that.  ZERO of my items got checked off my “to do” list……so I simply rolled them over to Thursday!  I’m learning to give myself some slack if I can’t do all the things I think I should be able to.

I continue to be amazed how you can feel great one minute and BAM – the next minute you feel like something has sucked every ounce of energy out of you.  I’m trying to keep a record of how I feel each day.  I want to see if there is a “pattern”.  Like will chemo days 1-4 be normal and I will feel fine……and will days 5-9  be days with lots of nausea and diarrhea and will things get better after day 10.  We’ll see.  Maybe…..maybe not.  It’s worth checking out anyway.

Today was better.  I got those items checked off my list.  Mom took me to town to pay some bills and run a few errands.  It seems that 3-4 hours is about the maximum amount time I can be out and about before I crash and head to the comforts of  my couch.  “Listen to your body” is what everyone says.  I’m really trying to do that. I rested most of the afternoon and felt good enough to have a “date night” and have dinner out with friends.  It was a great time.  Much needed time with friends – and lots of laughter…….which truly is good for the soul.

laughter

So you guys know that I knew NOTHING of blogging before starting this blog – and I really don’t know much more now about all the intricacies of blogging.  I’ve been fooling around with the owner dashboard section a little bit trying to figure out all the intricacies of this blogging thing.  Well, there is this neat STATS section where it shows you how many people have viewed your page each day, etc.  And then there’s this map of the world and it highlights the places that my blog has been read.  I was completely and utterly amazed to realize all the places that my blog had been read!!!

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Turks & Caicos Islands
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Russia
  • India
  • Aruba
  • Canada

What???  Seriously?? This whole internet and social media thing continues to amaze me!

So yesterday morning, I get a message from a former co-worker that I haven’t seen in years. She told me that her mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after me and she told me that her mom had been reading my blog and how it had been a blessing for them.  Now…..my friend lives in NYC…..and her mom lives in Tennessee.  I think that’s when it really hit me that folks outside of our little community were actually reading my blog!  I never……ever imagined such would be the case!  And ya’ll, I just have to tell you how God worked in my friends life.  Her mom got diagnosed with cancer in Tennessee.  My friend is in NYC.  Three days later…..do you hear me…..THREE DAYS LATER…..my friend got laid off from her job in NYC with 6 months severance.  Now – under normal circumstances, I know the layoff would have been devastating.  But you see – this layoff allowed her to simply pack her bags and head home to Tennessee to be a caregiver for her mom!  God truly works in mysterious ways!  Her mom had her first treatment today….and she was able to be right by her side! 🙂  If that isn’t God smiling on ya, I don’t know what is!

I also get a text from another friend yesterday telling me that a 33 y/o coworker had been diagnosed with breast cancer and would be starting treatment soon.  If that wasn’t bad enough – this young lady is 17 weeks pregnant.  I. SIMPLY. CANNOT. IMAGINE.  Suddenly…..my cancer chaos did not seem like such a big deal.  My heart was so heavy for this young lady and what she  must be going through physically, mentally and spiritually.   I just wished I could squeeze her really really tight and tell her that she is stronger than she can possibly imagine and that she can do this…….and to never, ever, give up and that she is NOT alone!

Cancer does not discriminate.  It doesn’t matter your age, your race, your socio-economic standing, your education, your political affiliation, your sex……it is no respecter of persons.  Cancer Sucks……PERIOD!

I’m thankful for a day of “deep couch sitting”.  However, I advised my husband that I’m pretty sure, when this is over – we may definitely need to invest in a new couch – Im pretty sure I’m wearing some permanent “holes” in this one!

Blessings,

Sonja

Psalm 29:11 The Message (MSG)

11 God makes his people strong.
God gives his people peace.

Joy Bombs

In Margaret Feinberg’s Bible Study “Fight Back With Joy” – the participants were asked to write down 3 “joy bombs” everyday.  “Joy-bombs” are defined as things that bring us joy (big or small).  And things that…..when they happen…..you just KNOW it was God!  I admit I have not done the Bible Study – I hope to someday soon – but I have read the book “Fight Back With Joy”  that the study was based on (which was gifted me to shortly after my diagnosis from a sweet friend).  I simply CANNOT say enough good things about this book,  First of all, Margaret and I could be sisters from another mister.  Our personalities seem to be a lot alike!  I loved her spunk and her grit – and her refusal to let cancer steal her joy!  If you know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and want to do something for them……gift them this book and take them a milkshake!  They will thank you!

fight back with joy

Anyway……I received the text below on Sunday from a forever friend…..she’s been around as long as I have been alive! 🙂  We joke and kid a lot – but we can be serious every now and then.  Here’s the text she sent me.

joybombs

So we texted back and forth awhile and I smiled at her reference to “joy-bombs”.

Monday, I had a big “joy-bomb” – I had a friend offer to take me shopping for my “cranial prosthesis”.  Google it.  It is a thing.  I wasn’t feeling 100% but I felt like I just needed to push through and let God take care of the rest.  We had an amazing trip!  We had the best time chatting on the ride to and from Raleigh and my shopping experience was fantastic.  Like, it’s a real problem when you have a difficult time deciding WHICH cranial prosthesis you want to buy!  I didn’t really think I’d want one – I’m more a baseball cap kinda girl……but my friend Dianne (who is a 2x breast cancer survivor) had a long talk with me a few weeks ago and asked me to reconsider.  She said there would be many days that I felt like crap and could care less how I looked…….BUT…..she also said that there would be some really good days when I felt spunky and felt like going out and having fun and looking my best – and on THOSE days, there might be an occasion or an event that I would want to attend and I would WANT to look my best and quite simply – there were some things that a baseball cap just wasn’t appropriate attire for!  As I left her condo that day – she said to me firmly “GET THE WIG”!!!  So Dianne…….here you go!  Here’s a sneak peak from behind!!

newdo2
Joy-Bomb#1 – finding the right one!

Don’t be jealous!  And Shelly M – sorry to disappoint.  No Katy Perry purple!

Clearly Joy-Bomb#1 was a successful shopping trip for my cranial prosthesis!  I just love saying that!

So today……not feeling the worst, and not the best, but off to a slow start.  Finally showered and headed to the pharmacy to pick up some meds.  Literally while standing at the counter waiting on my meds, this message popped up on my phone.

joybomb3
Joy-Bomb #2 from a friend since junior high

 

Less than an hour later, I saw a sweet friend who spent some time with me catching up and gave me a sweet card about our friendship……and 2 thoughtful gifts!  Joy-Bomb#3 for the day!  Holy cow!  Literally – all of these things occurred out of the blue – unexpectedly – and each a wonderful blessing from both the Lord and the giver.

Later tonight, I’m checking Instagram hoping maybe one of our youth has posted some pics of their trip (yeah, cause it’s awfully quiet around here without Hunter).  Well, I didn’t find any pics but I did find a message sent to me from another friend that I had not heard from in years until just a week or so ago.  Literally.

joybomb4
Joy-Bomb #4

Are ya’ll hearing and seeing this?  My wild and crazy friend on Sunday told me she was praying for a week filled with Joy-Bombs.  Can I say it’s only Tuesday and I can hardly wait for the rest of the week???  Can you see how God is working in all of this.  My friend prayed for this……..and God answered…….in ways unexpected and unimagined!  Many have been praying for me and my family – and He is definitely hearing and answering those prayers.

The very idea that my name was put on someone one’s heart to think about me is so humbling……but then for them to ACT on that and in turn let me know that I crossed their mind brings so much comfort and joy to me.  I love how God keeps letting me know that He is right on top of this and He is in this with me and He will NEVER EVER leave me nor forsake me!  I know we’ve all had someone cross our mind in what may seem like a totally weird and crazy time.  I’m learning to take those times to reach out to the person just to say – you were on my mind.  I believe God has them cross our minds for a reason!

Does having cancer suck?  Why, yes, indeed it does!  But I would be lying if I didn’t say that since being diagnosed with cancer, I have seen and felt the amazing love of  God more than I have at any time in my life.  I have had people love on me and my family in ways I never imagined.  I have felt His peace that passes all understanding literally from Day 1.  I’d always heard about that peace – but I truthfully never really understood it until I FELT it myself.  Do you have to have cancer to receive joy-bombs?  Absolutely not!  WE JUST HAVE TO LOOK FOR THEM!  I think when life is good and things are going great – we all get so busy that we don’t take time to truly appreciate the small stuff.  It gets all buried in the minutia of the day.  Does having cancer give me a keener eye for joy-bombs.  No doubt!!  And you know what – even after the good Lord and these doctors evict this cancer from my body…..I pray that I will maintain that keen eye for joy-bombs!

And literally since I’ve been working on this blog post, I’ve received several other “joy-bombs”.  I’d never wrap up this post if I detailed them all.  And ya’ll, I’ve had so many people send me joy-bombs – please, please, don’t feel like your act of kindness was any less important if I didn’t highlight it here!  That’s so not what this is about!  These were just some quick and easy ones for me to use!

I was a little leary when starting this blog.  You never know how something like this will be received.  But in the short time I’ve been dong it, I have been encouraged by many of you taking time to send notes, comments, etc.  Just today, in a conversation with someone about my blog – I shared my reasoning for doing this……

It’s therapy for me….and it’s selfish too in that I’m sure months from now some of this will be difficult to remember. I wanted a way to document the whole ordeal. Good And bad and be able to look back and see just how far I came and hopefully how it really wasn’t as bad as you imagine and most importantly to document the places God shoes up….in the midst of this….and just seeing how many people we have praying for all of us…..and how in crazy weird ways this may help somebody else….or force someone to get a mammogram….or send a card or text to someone when they cross their minds. I know God didn’t give me cancer. I didn’t want it but your kid didn’t ask for asthma either. We do the best we can with what we are given. I would like to think that if this cancer and this blog gives me a platform to encourage just a few then it will be worth it! I refuse to let this cancer be in vain. I need to make it count for something!! And sweet folks like you encouraging me are an added bonus!!!

So here’s the crazy thing.  Many don’t know that my degree is in English with a concentration in Communications/Public Relations.  It’s been a running joke I have never really had a job that “utilized” my degree to the full extent.  Yeah – don’t go calling the grammar police – I know this blog is not grammatically correct and I kinda like it that way.  But I’d be lying if I hadn’t thought about the fact that here……at 50 years of age…..sooo many years after obtaining my degree……isn’t it kinda crazy to think that maybe this had been my purpose all along?  That having cancer would give me the kick in the butt that I needed to just put myself out there and use that degree for something to make me feel better about my situation……and hopefully help or inspire a few folks……and be able to give God all the glory for it?  Call me a late bloomer if you will – but I’ll take it!  We need to bloom where we are planted, right?

Blessings……and praying that each of you take the time to stop and look for your “joy-bombs” each day!  I’d love to hear from you when you receive them! 🙂

Hugs!

Sonja

Psalm 139:16The Message (MSG)

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

Yeah, it REALLY Happens!

Consider yourself warned!!!  This post will be a bit different than my previous posts.  Sure, there’ll be some bad humor – that’s a given.   But you see, the deal I made with myself when I decided to journal this “chaos that is cancer” was that I wanted to be as real, open and honest and authentic about this “lump in the road” as I could (sorry ya’ll, I just CANNOT bring myself to refer this as a “JOURNEY” – it just sounds so cliche’).  My goal  was to share the good, the bad and the ugly……and all the in between.

While none of us just sit around and try to borrow trouble – I’m sure that MOST of us – at some point – have looked around at folks in our church, community, family, etc and witnessed them going through a difficult time – we may have thought to ourselves “if I were ever to have __________(enter your chosen diagnosis here), I know that as awful as it would be, I would ALWAYS be able to count on ______________(enter the name(s) of folks in your circle of influence here) to be there for me.

Stop and think for a minute of the names of folks you would use to fill in that blank.  Family, friends, church family, neighbors, coworkers, PTA friends, Jr League friends, your oldest and dearest friend from elementary school…….the list goes on and on.  You get the picture, right?  We all have our mental “go-to” list of folks that we are CONFIDENT will be there for us in both good and bad times.

Well…..I hate to burst your bubble……but you can most certainly expect that there will be one or two folks on your “go-to” list that will surprise (or disappoint) you.  They won’t show up.  They won’t call.  They won’t text.  They won’t send flowers or food.  They won’t be there in your cheering section like you had imagined.  And  you will just not be able to wrap your chemo brain around it!

The reasons for this are many.   Here’s just a quick list of a few reasons some friends and I have come up with…..

  • CANCER scares the hell out of some people – maybe they lost a loved one to a similar  diagnosis, it may bring up painful memories of prior loss, etc
  • some people just truly DO NOT know what to say
  • some people don’t deal well with “less than perfection” (sad but true)  they can’t handle a “sick” friend coming over to dinner with their “normal” friends
  • some people don’t handle the physical changes that occur as a result of your illness
  • some folks just don’t want to deal with your illness – it’s an inconvenience to them

I could go on and on, but I think you get my drift.

My Aunt BJ told me years ago that “not everybody or every family knows how to deal with sickness”.  I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant at first.  But we talked about how our family had seen it’s share of illnesses……from heart disease, lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, a paralyzed family member, strokes and several other illnesses.  As unfortunate as it was, our family had been forced to play the hand that we had been dealt.  In our family – we had learned to “deal with sickness”.  Hospitals, waiting rooms….receiving good news and not so good news.  Many families never have to experience a lot of sickness and as a result, often don’t know how to deal with sickness of others when the time comes.  #truth  

butwaittheres more

I’ve been reading a book called “CANCER Now What?” by Kenneth C. Haugk, Ph.D.  It’s a great read.  This book is excellent whether you are the one diagnosed with cancer or if you are a family member or caregiver to someone with cancer.

cover

It’s more like a “how-to” book regarding cancer and you can read it front to back or skip around to specific sections that may be relevant to you at the present time.  I’d been pondering writing about these relationship changes but wasn’t sure if I’d offend folks or not – but after praying about it and then seeing it referenced in Dr. Haugk’s book, I felt like that was my sign that this was, indeed, a “real” issue and I felt the need to share it……..so……Here’s what Dr. Haugk has to say about the subject of relationships and cancer.

page1

page2

But don’t despair!!  This post isn’t going to end on a bad note!  I can personally attest to the fact that I have seen first hand how a few of those on my “go-to” team did not show up.  Disappointing…….of course.  But trust me – when you “catch the cancer” like I have, things that would have wrecked “pre-cancer Sonja” fall like water off a duck’s back from “Cancer Sonja 2.0”.  Your outlook and perspective COMPLETELY change!

And I promise you that for each person on your “go-to” team that does not show up…….you can rest assured that there will be AT LEAST one person (but probably more) that you may never have known before that will take the place of those you had imagined!  It may be a brand new friend/survivor you meet in a chance elevator encounter who you bonded with immediately and has continued to keep up with you via text messages…….or it may be a friend of a friend of Aunt So-and-So’s that heard your story and felt compelled to bring food and visit……just because……..or someone at church……..or someone you meet at chemo…….  You see what I’m saying, right?  While it may seem devastating or disappointing at first – you will quickly move on…..and realize that God has already arranged for the right folks to be in your path……no matter how you know them or don’t know them.  God has sent so many “unexpected” people my way in the first few months of my diagnosis.  It continues to amaze me – but I promise you God sends us who and what we need…….at just the right time…….every time!

god is bigger

 

Now for a quick update on me.  I have felt like a new person since Friday.  Food has been staying with me…….I’ve had some decent energy.  Still can not stand up on my feet for long periods of time without feeling totally wiped out.  Awful indigestion (and I’ve learned indulging in watermelon is no help for that).  I get very hot and sweaty and nervous.  I’m sleeping okay.  My port is still causing me some sleeping issues – but hopefully that will all work itself out in time.  I’m praying for a great week!

I will be minus my sidekick this week.  He left at 6:00 am this morning headed to Kentucky to do mission work with his youth group for Appalachian Service Project.  I will surely miss him but know he will have a great experience and have LOTS to tell me when he gets home!  Praying they have a wonderful week and shine for Jesus!

Tomorrow I have an adventure planned.  More to come on that.  Wish me luck!

Until then…..

Sonja

 

Isaiah 49:23 

23  She who trusts in the Lord will never be disappointed

Looking in my Rearview Mirror

What a difference a few days can make.  Whether it’s your life, your health, your outlook, or your attitude……having a chance to reflect on “what was” and “what will be” can truly be good for the soul.

Sunday through Tuesday of this week this cancer and chemo kicked my butt.  BAM – outta nowhere, I was feeling fine and then…..not so much!  I found myself disappointed that I wasn’t feeling better, that i wasn’t able to do something so simple as go to the grocery store by myself, that for a few days, cancer was “one-upping” me.  But yesterday and today…..things shifted.  I felt a bit better.  And today – very clearly – I was able to see that even in those moments where I felt like crap, where my life was not like I would have wished it……….I was able to see that God was absolutely continuing to bless me even in the midst of all the ugly.

Last summer, our son Hunter spent over 30 days away from home.  Between Scout Camp, a 2 week Out West Trip with his Scout Troop and a mission trip with his youth group – we saw our son very little.  It was, indeed, a summer of growth for ALL of us.  Yes, he’s spoiled, but we have been very diligent about pushing him out of his comfort zone at times.  He just needs a little push – and then he’s fine.  I firmly believe he’s become a better kid because we’ve allowed him to venture away from us and experience life without us and on his own terms.    Having a full summer last year, this summer we were all okay with scaling things back a bit.  A week of summer vacation, a week of scout camp and a youth trip would be plenty.  As luck would have it – his church youth trip and the week he would attend Scout Camp fell on the same dates – so he made the decision to attend Appalachian Service Project with his youth group.  They will spent a week in rural Kentucky doing mission work and helping do service projects like build porches, paint houses, etc.  (they leave this coming Sunday)!

hcv
This kid right here……ya’ll, he’s been such a blessing his entire life, but especially the past few weeks!

I realized yesterday just how much I’m going to miss this kid next week while he’s away – for reasons totally different than in the past.  This fella has been my constant companion and side kick since school was out.  He has been stuck at home this summer with a mom with cancer and dad out of work on disability due to a herniated disc.  He’s had to pick up some slack and he’s done it with a Servant’s Heart!  He’s not let me over extend myself.  He’s always saying “mom, I can do that, you don’t need to”!  He’s always made me proud – but I’ve been extremely proud of the “can do” attitude he has maintained over the past few months.  He grocery shopped for last night’s dinner – and he prepared and cooked it by himself.  Dad drove him to the grocery store, but he took my list and came back with everything we needed to prepare our delicious meal!  I lit the grill for him and dad supervised – but otherwise, he was in charge.  Not sure who was more proud!

So looking in my rearview, while I felt badly that his summer would not be as adventurous as last……turns out God knew we were going to need him here with us this summer.  I know it wasn’t the summer he had planned either – but we are all going to make the best of it!  I’ve promised him a fun “reward/make-up” vacation when this “shit storm” is over.  I intend to make good on that promise.

And then there’s his dad.  Our workaholic provider – always, always working to make sure we have everything we need and then some.  CC has been out of work unexpectedly since early June when he was diagnosed with a herniated disc/pinched nerve.  He has been in excruciating pain up until this past Monday, when he was FINALLY able to get an epidural steroid injection and some relief of the constant pain.  While it’s never fun to have two sick folks in one household at the same time – there have been some blessings of both of us being “out of commission” at once.  We’ve joked that we have taken turns taking each other to doctor’s appointments.  Thankfully our “bad” days have not come at the same time!  He and Hunter were both able to accompany me to my first chemo treatment.  That was good for me – to have them there, to see that it wasn’t awful, to know what goes on.  Under normal circumstances, he would have had to take vacation time to accompany me, or work a Saturday to make up for the day off during the week.

Coincidence?  I think NOT!  It’s nothing but “God-incidence” that our summer has turned out exactly like it has.  God’s timing and God providing.  Providing caregivers for me when I didn’t know I would need them.  Providing a cheering section for me on the days I feel like crap.

So you see……looking through the rearview mirror TODAY – it turns out my Sun-Wed was not really all that bad.  It stunk a little bit at the time – but I can look back now and see how that even in the midst of all that ugly – God was continuing to bless me and provide for me.  Allowing me to have two wonderful caregivers right within arms reach.

We continue to reap unexpected blessings each and every day.  Phone calls to say “I’m bringing food”, folks just showing up with food, folks providing meals and texting notes of encouragement from all corners of the world, emails to say “I’m going to do this for you”…….we have been so very blessed!

Today I’m thankful for my rearview mirror.  Thankful that life looks much clearer through my rearview, and thankful that my windshield gives me a much bigger view of where I’m actually heading!

Blessings!

Sonja

Proverbs 4:25  (NIV)

25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.

 

 

Figuring it all out

Funny how things can be pretty dang awesome one minute, and all hell break loose the next.  I was pleased with the way my body initially responded to the chemo last week.  Wednesday through Saturday things seemed to be pretty normal.  That all came to a screeching halt on Sunday.  I felt good that morning and went to the early service at church.  By the time lunch rolled around, I wasn’t starving, but knew that I needed to eat something.  I managed to eat a little bit of lunch, but wasn’t feeling the greatest!  I spent the rest of Sunday on the couch.  Going to church and out to lunch did me in for the day!  I was simply exhausted.  Everyone tells me to “listen to my body” – so I was content to just hang out on the couch most of the day.  I attempted to watch a movie with Hunter – but he advised me later that I fell asleep within the first 30 minutes of the movie!

Monday morning CC had to go to Durham for an Epidural Steroid Injection in an effort to get some relief for this pinched nerve in his neck.  We have joked that we are just taking turns driving each other to doctor’s appointments.  I pray this injection gives him some relief.  The tiredness continued most of the day on Monday – and even though I was being diligent about eating and drinking, nothing seemed to stay with me very long.  Our neighbors cooked dinner for us – and everything tasted normal – but as had been the case all day, every time I got something on my stomach, it didn’t stay there very long.  ***I apologize for the TMI!*** I was plaqued by diarrhea all dang day.  Just when I thought I had been able to keep something on my stomach….well, it didn’t happen.  I got a bit nervous because I didn’t want to get dehydrated.  I definitely didn’t want to end up in the ER for fluids.  We read over my chemo instructions and the instructions there were to take Imodium to help with the diarrhea.  I took one round of the Imodium last night and was able to get some relief and some sleep.  That is…..until about 2:15 am.  I woke up at 2:15 sweating like crazy.  I got up and grabbed a thermometer to check my temperature.  100.5 is the magic number – I have been instructed to call my doctor and head to the ER if my temp reaches 100.5.  My temperature was 100.0!  I got me something to drink, took some Ibuprofen and stayed up awhile hoping to get my fever down.  About an hour and a half later,  my temp had dropped to 99 and I went back to bed.

There’s a Community Wide breakfast provided every year on July 4th.  Most of the time, we’re at the beach and not able to attend…..but I wanted to go for a while today just to see friends and family that I don’t get to see any other time.  I had a few pieces of toast at home before we left and ate a little cantaloupe and watermelon.  I had hoped to stay awhile and visit, but I was just so tired and weak we came home pretty quickly.  I spent the majority of the day in the dark, cold basement.  Rest is best!  My fellas treated me to a banana milkshake this afternoon and that was quite yummy!

I know this, too, shall pass. Everybody tolerates chemo differently – and the effect it has on everyone’s body is totally different.   No two people’s experience is the same.   My main objective is to keep myself hydrated and fever-free and eliminate any trips to the ER!

Many have asked how to specifically pray for me – and right now, I would say to please pray for me to be able to stay hydrated and fever-free!

I have been so very blessed by the outpouring of love and kindness that so many have shown.   I continue to be amazed at just how wonderfully God provides for his children – He knows our every need!

Happy July 4th!

Hugs!

Sonja

Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

 

 

Making Progress

My chemo went pretty smoothly on Wednesday, and I didn’t have any severe side effects….Praise the Lord.

The oncology nurse placed a Neulasta OnPro on the back of my arm shortly after I had finished up with my chemo.  Chemo puts everyone at a risk of infection.  The Neulasta OnPro is an on-body injector that boosts your white blood cell count – thereby helping to reduce your risk of infection.  Previously, you would have to go back to the hospital 23-27 hours AFTER chemo to receive a Neulasta shot.  Now they have this nifty little device that attaches to either your arm or stomach.  Once it’s attached, it pricks your skin immediately and somehow this device knows when the appropriate amount of time has passed and then it beeps to alert you that it is about to start dispensing the medication in your arm.  It takes about 45 minutes for the medication to be dispensed, and once it’s done, the OnPro shows that it’s empty and then you can remove it from your body.  All of this happens wherever you are – without having to drive back to the clinic to get an injection.  That was pretty dang cool!  And I was very happy NOT to have to drive back to Duke at 6:00 pm at night just to get a shot!

neulasta

I felt a bit queasy on Thursday and Friday even taking the anti-nausea meds.  I’m not one to get up and eat right away, I need to be up a few hours before trying to put anything on my stomach.  However, they have a pretty rigid schedule  of times when I’m supposed to take these meds, and I think taking the meds plus eating when I wasn’t really ready to eat just left me not feeling my best.  I was pretty tired Thursday and Friday and just took it easy – laying around on the couch or enjoying some fresh air out on the screened porch.  Everyone has advised me to “listen to my body” – and if it is telling me it needs to rest, then that’s what I need to do.  Sometimes that’s easier said than done.

porch sittin

I’ve been really pleased with how I’ve tolerated the first round of chemo…..foods still taste the same to me, although I’m not wanting to eat an awful lot at a time.  I’ve been experiencing dry mouth, so I am using Biotene toothpaste as well at Biotene mouthwash to help with that……and lots of hard candy.

The doctors said that the one thing that would buy me a trip to the hospital immediately would be dehydration.  I’ve NEVER been a huge fan of water…..but I am doing my best to drink as much water or orange juice as I can.  I prefer sleeping in my own bed!

Thank you all for your continued prayers and encouragement.  I cannot tell you how instrumental those calls, texts, cards, food, milkshake deliveries, etc have been in keeping my spirits up and just bringing a smile to my face.  God has blessed me with so many prayer warriors and awesome friends supporting me in more ways than I ever could have imagined!  I cannot fathom how folks fight something like cancer or any other illness without a network of friends and community of believers cheering them on.  I am so thankful for my “village”.  It’s pretty awesome when you don’t even have to reach out to someone to ask for assistance – folks have been so good about seeing a need and just saying “I want to do this for you”.  It is quite a humbling experience – but I am thankful for each and every act of kindness that has been shown to me and my family since this whole mess started.

Hugs!

Sonja

 

Day#1 is Done!

Today was a busy day for the Vaughan household.  We were up and out of the house by 8:15.  CC had a return visit to Triangle Ortho regarding his herniated disc.  He will go back on Monday for an injection to see if that provides any relief.

We left Triangle Ortho and headed to Duke Cancer Center.  We had a little time to kill, so I perused the Belk Boutique and found some super cute hats and caps (Hunter helped me pick them out) and a nifty shirt that zips on each side to give easy access to your ports.

port

I had an 11am appointment with my medical oncologists.  Everything was good but they realized I had not had an echocardiogram as yet – and that is a MUST before starting chemo.  They need your baseline readings, etc.  Lucky for me – they were able to get me scheduled in the Cardiac Diagnostic Unit for 1:00 pm.  I didn’t actually get into a room until 1:30, but the technician worked really hard to get everything she needed to send to the cancer clinic to give them the go ahead to start treatment!  They advised the infusion room that I was going to be a bit late, but I was still on the schedule to get my first dose TODAY!

We were put back in the transfusion room a little after 3pm.  I was given some zofran, decadron and ativan for anti-nausea first.  Then they hung an IV of Emend for nausea as well.  Next was a bag of Cytoxan, followed by 5 syringes of Epirubicin (it looked like red jello)!  And the final dose was the Fluorouracil which took about 5 minutes.  After that, the only left to do was to put the Neulasta OnPro on my arm.  This device will administer the Neulasta injection for me tomorrow night at the appropriate time.  This thing is amazing.  It pricked me shortly after she placed it on my arm…..and it somehow knows to wait from 24-27 hours and then start releasing the medication in my arm late tomorrow night.  What a lifesaver – this little contraption saves me from having to back to Duke every day after chemo to get a Neulasta shot.  This on pro is definitely the way to go!

Once the on pro had been placed on my arm, we were all set to leave!  I have to say, other than being tired, today was not that bad.  No weird tastes in my mouth, no awful smells or allergic reactions to anything initially and I pray that continues.

I’ve been advised to rest as much as possible…..that days 1&2 are doable, but day 3 really has you feeling bad.  I’m going to rest for sure – and I am praying that I won’t feel super terrible over the next week.

Thanks to everyone who called, texted or messaged us today to check on me.  That really means a lot.  Again, we have been humbled by the outpouring of support for us during this time.  You guys really are the best!

Blessings to each of you!

Sonja

Joshua 1:9

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Final Preparations

The “conscious sedation” meds they gave me yesterday wore off around bed time (wouldn’t ya know).  Who ever knew you used your neck/shoulder muscles so much when simply turning over in the bed!!!  Goodness!  And it just flat out feels weird having this port inside my chest!  I’m bruised up a bit and it is a little tender to the touch – but the information they sent me home with yesterday says the soreness should wear off after 48-72 hours.  I hope so!  This, by far, has been more uncomfortable than the 2 lumpectomies! 🙂  Even so – I hate to complain.  I’m thankful that I won’t have to get “stuck” each and every time they need blood or give me chemo or IV meds.

I spent the day today tidying up lots of loose ends like paying bills and washing clothes.  Then I went to see my hair girl Rachael.  I realized last week that my next hair appointment was scheduled for tomorrow (June 28th) which was also the same day as my first chemo treatment.  I called Rachael and told her to just cancel my appointment – especially since the medical oncologist had assured me that I would, indeed, lose my hair in the first 10-12 days after chemo.  Rachael asked me to reconsider and to reschedule an appointment for today to go ahead and cut my hair shorter so when I start losing it, it wouldn’t be such a drastic change!

before
Here’s the BEFORE…..

wait for it……wait for it…..wait for it…..

after2
And here’s the AFTER.  I’m digging’ my spiky new ‘do!

I’ve worn my hair short before – it’s been awhile (and SEVERAL pounds) ago – but I really like it!  Talk about low maintenance! 🙂  It feels like puppy dog hair in the back!  Thanks Rach….. ❤

Several of you have asked me what was going to choose to eat for dinner tonight – well……who is surprised that we had a Pizza Hut thin’n crispy Supreme Pizza AND a Pepperoni pizza.  Good stuff right there!

I got my anti-nausea patch placed behind my ear around 7pm per the pharmacist’s directions.

Tomorrow will be a long day in the Cancer Center.  My prayer is that I tolerate the chemo meds okay.  I think I’m as mentally prepared as I can be.  Thanks to all of you who have reached out to me today sending love and best wishes.  Keep the prayers coming!  Let’s do this!

Be blessed!

Sonja

Matthew 6:34

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” 

An im-PORT-ant day

Today got off to an early start.  I left home around 7:30am to allow enough time to travel to Duke and get parked and make it to my 9:00 am lab appointment.  They are so dang efficient in the Cancer Clinic Lab.  You check in, get a pager (like the ones they give you at Outback when you’re waiting for a table) and before you have a chance to get settled in your seat good, the pager is going off to let you know you’re up next for labs!  While I was standing in line to register, I got a message from my friend who just finished up her treatments about 6 months ago.  She was wishing me luck and letting me know she was praying for me today!  I just love those little “God-winks”!  Crazy how as many folks as they have back there doing labs, I got the same guy both times I’ve been.  It was a sweet but short relationship, as I told him I was here today to have my port installed, so I guess that meant we would be officially breaking up.  I told him it was truly nothing personal! 🙂 He took the news about the breakup better than I expected, and he wished me all the best going forward!

We had a little time to kill before my port appointment, so we ventured over to the Belk Boutique.  My friend Miranda had told me that they had some items they gave to new cancer patients.  I went in and asked about it, and sure enough there was a section of the boutique with scarves, hats, bandannas, toboggans, sleep caps, blankets, bracelets – lots of awesome items that were available to me.  I chose a blanket (everyone says you will need it in the infusion room), a bandanna and a awesome multicolored cap and a cool gift set!  I opted to save a few of my freebies for later!  Check out my swag!

swag
I got a blanket, hat, bandanna, moisturizer, Burt’s Bees lip balm, toothpaste and hard candy from the Belk Boutique today!

Oh – and if you park in the parking deck and are there for labs, etc, you can get your parking ticket validated at the Belk Boutique also, and all day parking will only cost you $4.00.  What a nice discount.

**UPDATE** My friend Barbara just advised me that you get FREE parking on chemo days.  That’s fantastic!  Thanks for setting me straight Barbara!

A sweet friend took me to my appointments today.  She is a such a lovely person and has such a servant’s heart.  She asked the volunteer at the boutique if there were items they needed for the boutique to provide to cancer patients.  The volunteer shared several ideas with her and I know she will share those ideas with our friends at church and provide them with some extra supplies in no time!  We learned that the volunteer helping us was a 2 year breast cancer survivor and also a Christian.  She shared some of her joys and struggles and the next thing I knew, my friend was joining us all in a circle and praying for her right there in the boutique!  What a wonderful way to get our day started!  God keeps showing up along this pathway!

Next up was my appointment for my port placement.  My chemo doctor recommended the port be put in since I was going to have 12 chemo treatments.  It makes it easier on me and the hospital staff also.  I won’t have to worry about bad, rolling or collapsed veins – they will be able to draw blood, deliver IV’s, chemo, contrast, etc all through my port.  The procedure was pretty painless – other than the lidocaine shot to numb my neck and chest.  I’m a little sore around my neck and collarbone – but that should not last too awful long.  The stitches were internal and the incision is covered with surgical glue on the outside.  I’m a little bruised – but nothing terrible.  It feels a little weird having something like that implanted in my body – but they all assured me I would get accustomed to it being there.

port.jpg
My port was inserted a little ways down from my collarbone.

So now I’m all geared up and ready for my first chemo treatment on Wednesday.

A friend sent this message today…..I loved it!

One day down, is one day closer to the end!! 💪💪

It’s all about perspective!

Keep the prayers coming ya’ll!

Hugs!

Sonja

2 Corinthians 9:8

8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

A Day of Gatherings…..

This day has been jam packed!  We started off attending 8:30am worship this morning.  It was a day of celebrations!  During the service, we commissioned 4 adults and 16 youth for an upcoming mission trip with ASP (Appalachian Service Project).  Our group will be heading to rural Kentucky July 9th to do mission work there.  This is the first time we’ve had youth old enough to attend ASP and we are all excited for them and the blessings they will both give and receive from this experience.

Next we celebrated our Youth Pastor, Curtis Hammock and his wife Dori.  Curtis has recently been ordained as a licensed local pastor and today was his last day with us at Concord UMC! 😦  While we are so happy that he has answered the call to serve as an ordained minister, we will surely miss him and Dori and their sweet children.  It was truly bittersweet!  Curtis and Dori – we love you guys and know that you and your family will be a blessing to your new congregation, just as you have blessed us over the past few years.

Sooooo many people took time to wish me well and offer encouragement for me this week as I embark on my chemo regimen.  I continue to be amazed at the outpouring of love that has been showered on both me and my family through meals, calls, texts, cards, and visits.  We have been oh so blessed by our church family, family, friends, neighbors and even strangers.  Small town living ain’t so bad – and from where I sit, it’s times like this when folks truly show up and offer support in whatever form it is needed.  I’m truly thankful for this community!

Church was followed by “Sunday Lunch at BJ’s”.  My Aunt BJ prepared a table full of delicious food for lunch!  I’m still amazed at how she manages to get so much food cooked in such a short window of time.  I think she has some kind of super-power!  I think everyone is trying to make sure I eat good to “beef up” for this chemo! 🙂  There has been no shortage of good food for me over the past few weeks!  I completely forgot to get a picture of the meal she had prepared – sorry about that!  But trust me when I say it was mmmm mmmm good!

They_broke_bread...wood_sign_by_Aimee_Weaver_Designs

Doctors appointments and  hectic schedules of late has kept me and the girls from being able to have our “therapy lunches”.  That stinks and we are going to rectify it soon!  However – one of my therapy girls has had a full plate lately herself……so today I decided enough was enough –  and that we needed an emergency therapy session!  So we spent a few hours on the couch catching up and solving lots of problems.  It was good for my soul!

therapy session

The next thing you know, it’s dinner time!  Sunday dinners at my mom and dad’s are always a treat!  As I write this, I’m sure that you all must be thinking “Golly, she needs to be in a 12-step program for her food addiction!”  Yeah – we love to eat around here.  Mom  had prepared a feast for dinner!  So many of my favorites!!

sundaydinner2
There is nothing like fresh veggies!  YUM!  

 

cobbler
And a wonderful blackberry cobbler compliments of Hunter Vaughan!  Gran had a “training session” with him and Haden one day a few years ago and it was time well spent!  These boys can cook! And yes – it tastes just as good as it looks! 

Yes…..food and fellowship…..that’s how we show love in this family.  And trust me – there is an endless supply of that around here!  Good times gathered round the table…..laughing, talking, debating……and arguing over who gets the last serving! 🙂

What an awesome Sunday!  So thankful for all the “gatherings” on this day.  Every one of them was special.

Til next time!

Sonja

Romans 1:12

that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.