Sunday, July 31, 2016

Rough seas ahead ...

Five busy weeks have passed since my surgery ...

I finally got around to taking "Birthday" pictures of K-man, who turned twelve while I was in hospital. I can't believe how much this wonderful young man has changed in the past year! I think he grew a whole head taller! Gone is my boy soprano and he's been replaced with a squeaky tenor/baritone. This kid loves all things Star Wars!!

T had a great summer swim season, most of which I missed. {{Special thanks to my bestie Denyse and other team families who transported T to and fro.}} She snuck in a 'bonus' season as a 10/under swimmer as her birthday is a couple days after the cut-off. I was very happy to meet my recovery goal of getting to the three championship meets at the end of the season. It started with the Divisional (2A) Meet last Saturday (July 23) - six teams. Kids were only allowed to swim three events, so we picked her best: Girls 9-10 50m Freestyle, 50m Backstroke & 50m Butterfly (which she swam in the Medley Relay Team) ... See T's results below left.

The 16 fastest swimmers in each event from the combined four divisions advanced to All Stars the next day (Sunday), which is a championship meet for the whole league/all four divisions (20+ teams). See T's results below right.


And as if that isn't enough, the fastest 8 swimmers in each All Star event then move on to Mid Caps, which was held yesterday. (July 30) Mid Caps is a Central PA "east-shore league (top 8) vs. west-shore league (top 8)" championship meet. But after all her hard work I wasn't sure she would go to Mid Caps as T strained her shoulder mid-week. Rest (no practice), ice packs, and ibuprofen helped, and off we went. T's Medley Relay team placed second, she placed 6th in 50 Freestyle, and 5th in 50 Backstroke, very near her best times! A spectacular effort with a dud shoulder!! Now for a {welcome} 6-week break until the winter season starts!!

As for me, I continue to gain strength and endurance daily, thanks be to God. I move about quite freely now, though at a significantly slower pace than I am used to. I still have to be careful not to overdo it. I get as many tasks done as I can in the mornings, and I am usually laid out in the recliner for the afternoons and evenings. I started driving again around July 20 which has reduced the stress of arranging rides for the kids and I to our various appointments. My diet is slowly gaining variety, though that may be short lived. My ostomy is uncomfortable. The function and maintenance of it is going fine, it's my sensitivity to adhesives that is causing a problem, as the ostomy bags adhere to my abdomen, and are causing significant irritation to the skin underneath. Still consulting with a variety of doctors and nurses (and YouTube) about how to treat it.

I sail back into rough seas this week as I start the final round of chemotherapy on Wednesday, August 3. Long infusions (3-4 hrs?) and a pump for 48 hrs, every two weeks, for 8 sessions (about 4 months). This round of treatment is largely preventative. It further decreases my chance of recurrence. I'd appreciate your prayers going into this phase of treatment, as the side effects are likely to be much greater than the last round of low-dose chemo. Potential hair loss is the least of my worries, it's the nausea I am most concerned about. I can barely sneeze due to pain/tightness in my abdominal muscles - I don't think I can deal with full-blown nausea. I am eager to get this phase started but most importantly finished.

I have friends who are undergoing chemo ... one of them has been doing this every two weeks for years. YEARS. You probably know someone enduring the same. With so many people praying for me, my prayers are focused on my fellow warriors. My prayer for them is strength for each day, comfort from pain/nausea, peace that surpasses all understanding, a strong support network, LOVE in abundance, and a hope that is not disappointed... All the things I have been blessed with. I know God is listening and has answered so many prayers thus far.

Thank you for your continued prayers, encouragement, and support.

In Christ's strength,


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The worst is over...

What a tumultuous ride! PHEW! Back on calmer seas ...

It is good to be HOME.

Surgery June 27: Bathed in prayer ... all went well.
Recovery in Hospital June 27- July 3: So imagine being hit by a tractor trailer and surviving ... at least that's what it felt like to me!

I spent most of the week in bed. By day two I was walking to the bathroom and back, with a walker and supervised. Day three I walked down the hall with a walker, supervised. Day four FATIGUE & nausea hit me big time. Whilst the medical care is world class, hospital is not a good place to sleep. Day five I felt better again and anticipated going home the next day for K-man's Birthday. Day six ... more fatigue and nausea at which I voluntarily opted to stay another day. With a little prep before I went into hospital, Matt capably took care of making K-man's 12th Birthday a wonderful celebration at home, and he brought them to the hospital in the afternoon so I could watch K-man's delight at opening his gifts. And he was DELIGHTED! As was I.

I had a number of pastoral visits throughout the week, offering warm smiles and welcome words of hope, encouragement, and prayer. I work for a church conference - representing 900+ churches in central and northeastern Pennsylvania. Word gets around (authorized!) when you are on conference staff, and I received cards and messages from countless church prayer groups, pastors, and church members, many of whom I don't know, that I was being lifted in prayer. I feel it folks. I could not endure this journey without my faith, without my Savior.

My surgeon informed me that my tumor had a "full pathological response" to the chemo & radiation a couple months ago, meaning they found no living cancer cells in what he removed. Praise God for this precise answer to many prayers! However, because I am young, the surgeon and my oncologist would still like me to undergo the follow up chemo protocol, to further reduce any recurrence (in case young cancer cells may be active elsewhere.) Praise God! I know, it's not what I was expecting, and I am certainly not looking forward to it at all, but God is in control, and everyone has my best interests at heart. The chemo treatments will start up in about a month.

Sunday July 3: After waking and feeling stronger, and being checked on by almost every staff member/medical team in the hospital, they discharged me at last to go home.

From the chest up I feel pretty fine, but after a week mostly sent in bed my leg muscles are reduced to jelly. And the FATIGUE. Oh my! It takes EVERYTHING in me to walk up or down our stairs (with Matt to lean/hold on) especially these first couple days. My mid section is a little tender as you might imagine, with two runs of staples, an ostomy (go ahead, research that on Google!), and an abdominal drain.

Praise God, and with the help of common over-the-counter pain meds, I have enjoyed restful sleep the past couple nights. The first night was definitely a little rougher. Each day I wake feeling stronger and better, and I try to meander the downstairs as much as I can through the day to work on endurance and strength. Matt took the week off work this week to care for me, and his care has been second to none. ♥ A visiting nurse stops by every couple of days to check my vitals. So far, so good.

So now I learn about living with an ostomy. I have to get used to a very low-fiber diet, at least to start, and drink lots of extra fluids. Canned/well cooked fruit and veg (no skins/seeds), white bread, broiled lean meats, white rice, white pasta, lean fish, dairy products, Gatorade & vegetable juice. Extra salt is encouraged. Pringles come in handy there! I have already been inspired by a young (20's) woman on YouTube who has produced a number of informational/helpful videos on living with an ostomy. What a way to make lemonade!!

Well, it's taken me all day to compose this blog. It's not comfortable to sit any length of time in one position, and I've had visitors, and other tasks to attend to throughout the day. Now for some family movie time.

Calmer seas.

Thanks for your love, prayers and encouragement.

In Christ's strength,

Sandii :) xxxxxxxxxxx