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September 8, 2008

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13.

Wow, it has been forever since my last entry.  Especially when I read what I last wrote!  Seems like ages ago ... where to start?

I am officially beating the odds, statistically, by merely being alive over 2 years after being diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer.  I am also beating the odds by being able to remain on this same treatment regimen for longer than 9 months, which is the "average time to treatment failure." 

I continue having my monthly treatments of Zometa and Zolodex, and am taking Femara by mouth on a daily basis.   I am no longer having headaches or nausea/vomiting associated with my treatments.  I am no longer having joint pain either.  I am basically side-effect-free ... except for insomnia, which my doctor does not believe is related to any of the medications.  Never mind the fact that before I started treatment for metastatic breast cancer, I could sleep or nap at any time of the day, for any length of time, and still sleep all night.  I could fall asleep fast and not wake up until morning.  I could work the night shift and flip-flop my sleep schedule any day of the week and still function.  Based on the many studies I've seen, I have concluded that my 10 years of night-shift work is my one risk factor for developing cancer.  But I've digressed ... I guess a little insomnia is a small price to pay for being alive to watch my children grow and grandchildren be born!

I am now on an every-six-month test/scan schedule, which started out as every 3 months and then progressed to every 4 months.  Every scan's results are better than the last!  Every tumor marker blood level is lower than the previous!  It is simply a miracle that I am continuing to improve.  I know that I'm one of the lucky ones.

Over the past few years, like many women (and I believe this is unrelated to cancer,) I had gained weight -- too much weight.  For a while after I was re-diagnosed (in 2006,) I actually thought "I have cancer ... I'm going to eat whatever I want."  But as time went on, I began to realize that apparently, I was not meant to die any time in the near future.  Evidently God had more life in store for me!  I simply could not go on eating, looking, and feeling like I did.  I finally had the willpower to make changes in my lifestyle, more than I ever had before.  I can't fully explain it, but something got into me -- I was able to stick to a reasonable, calorie-reduced diet.   I lost some weight and then decided to add some exercise.  After a friend trained for and successfully completed a marathon, I was motivated to join a training group and start training for a half marathon!  I have been jogging regularly and making great progress -- my long run of the week is now up to 6 miles.  (By the way, an orthopedist has deemed my femur, one of the sites of my metastatic breast cancer, at no risk for fracture, and I have no physician-imposed limitations on my activity.)  I have lost more weight and am feeling great.  I'm doing some weight training and I'm even taking a dance class!  I find myself saying "You only live once" often.  I am obliged to offer explanations to some friends and family members as to why I'm training for a half marathon.  And I'm thinking, because I can.  Because I'm 40!  To see if I can.  To prove that I can.  Why not??  Why do 1000's of people participate in marathons and fun runs every year?  The human body is an amazing work of art.  Our creator made it that way -- capable of so much, even after years of no exercise, and even after stage IV cancer.

Next entry, I'll discuss the latest trend of "breast health awareness."

 

The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  1 Peter 5:10.

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  Psalm 18:32

February 21, 2007

Tonight I've been reading some breast cancer related weblogs here and there.  There's really a lot out there!  Of course most of the others are more technologically advanced than this weblog (online journal, rather,) but hey it gets the word out.  All the reading of others' blogs have put me in the mood to write ...

So much sadness out there.  So many women going through what I am going through.  Too many!!  Although most blogging breast cancer patients are pretty upbeat and generally have a positive attitude (you have to, really, to get through it,) the whole thing is just plain sad.  No one should have to deal with cancer!  When will it all end??  I know that one day a cure will be found, but probably not soon enough to benefit me.  Well I guess it's possible, anything is possible, but it's not likely is all I'm saying.

Had my latest Zometa/Zolodex treatment last Thursday, 6 days ago.  This was the first time to try a 3-day course of Decadron day before, day of, and day after the treatment, in an attempt to quell the awful headache/nausea/vomiting events I've been having 2-3 days post treatment.  Dr. Green blames it all on the Zometa, although I've yet to find any information to shed light on the reasons for its yucky side effects.  It's not clear to me why she thought Decadron (dexamethasone) would prevent them, but it did!  No headache or nausea, but a couple of new symptoms of all-over-the-body tenderness to touch, even light touch, especially on my neck and chest area, and facial flushing/rosiness.  Also the usual joint achiness.  AND the Decadron's side effects were enough to make me rethink taking it next time around.  Bad and crazy dreams, insomnia, intense depression (including tears, a very rare occurrence for me!) for several days ... Weird stuff.  Perhaps I'd rather just be sick for a day!  I hate having to take meds to counteract another med's side effects.  I think it can get out of hand before you know it.  What, am I then going to need something to help with the side effects of the steroids??  I'm just not one for popping a pill for any little thing, so all of this cancer stuff is hard for me to swallow (figuratively, that is.)

Then yesterday, a full 12 days after my treatment, and my oldest daughter's 20th birthday no less, I had the severe headache & nausea thing happen that usually only happens 2-3 days after treatment.  You know it had to be bad that I cancelled her birthday get-together (it was just for family anyway) that was to include King Cake shipped here from New Orleans!

Who knows why it happened, but I do know that the headaches are worrying me to death.  Like so many others with metastatic breast cancer, I've become paranoid that every little ache and pain is the big "C," returning.  Of late, in addition to the headaches, are the rib tenderness (both sides) and continued mid-night right hip pain and ongoing sleep problems.  And did I mention the headaches?  I am going to call and have the doctor schedule me for some kind of scan of my head/brain.  Anything!  Just check it out!  I am already scheduled for the usual battery of blood work and scans for March 6th, so why not add the head?  After all, the lymph nodes in the neck and chest are just a hop, skip, and jump away from the head, right?

Have I mentioned that I am singing in the church choir now?  Crazy, I know, because I really can't sing.  I just LIKE to sing!  Especially praise music, contemporary Christian.  I figured, you only live once, and you should not put off things you've always wanted or wished you could do!

The next few days we'll be busy getting our house in order for Saturday's Crawfish Boil!  We are hosting it for our Sunday School Class and are really looking forward to it!  We love having people over and feeding them.  I guess you could say it's our "thing."

Oh I almost forgot to post an update on Amy (see previous post.)  She has recovered from her mastectomy and had her first chemo treatment last week.  It was tough on her, tougher than she expected, I think, but she is doing well, and even came to work today.  Which is also going great.  She's a fast learner and I hope she plans to stay with us a while!  Only 3 more treatments to go and she'll be done.  She had no lymph node involvement, so no radiation will be necessary after the chemo.  Yay for Amy!!!

 

January 23, 2007

I am just finishing my December 29th entry tonight, so the following two entries are both "new" to the weblog:

I want to share a story ... a few months ago, we asked Amy, a friend from church, to work with us at The Pink Ribbon Shop on a part-time basis.  She has 2 adorable little girls, ages 4 & 2, and she had quit working 3 years ago to be a full time mom.   Amy always has a smile on her face, and we thought she might like a flexible position (and we thought we would really like to have her!) at our family-friendly shop.  At first she declined, but eventually we talked about it some more, she stopped by and checked us out and she agreed to working one day a week.  

On her first day of work, we had the opportunity to talk at length, more than we ever had before.  She asked all about my cancer history and present treatments, and being the good listener that Amy is, she got quite an earful from me!  Not in a bad way, just basically my life history as it relates to breast cancer over the past 6 years.  :)  At the end of my very long-winded day, she told me that she had felt a lump and that she had a doctor's appointment for that afternoon to have it checked out!  I felt like a big weight had been thrown onto my chest!  I knew from experience that if the news wasn't good, her life was never to be the same!  I didn't want to think of a friend having to go through all that I had been through!  It was certainly no coincidence that Amy was placed into my life on that day!  All I could think was "God, please let it just be a cyst, not cancer."  But I had a bad feeling, just because of the circumstances of her coming to work that day.  I prayed, "God, if it IS cancer, please help me to be a blessing in Amy's life."  And also, I hoped that I hadn't told her anything that would scare or worry her any more than she already was.  She's only 32 ... the same age I was when I was first diagnosed almost 7 years before.

Since that first day, Amy's first (and only, thus far) day of "work" at The Pink Ribbon Shop, so much has happened.  The lump she felt was indeed cancer.  She's had surgery and more tests, and is to see an oncologist in the next couple of weeks.  Please keep Amy in your prayers.  Please keep ALL cancer patients and their families in your prayers.  It is a most difficult time, for sure, but with Faith in the Lord, and LOTS of prayer, you will get through it.

With Amy being newly diagnosed, and with so many "pink ribbon" items at my disposal, I wanted to give her something ... but what?  I chose Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book which Amy later described as the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" book for new breast cancer patients.  It is SO that!  I consider it an essential tool for arming yourself with the latest, most accurate, and comprehensive information out there.  I also gave her the book Praying Through Cancer, which I have already noted in this blog as being helpful and soothing to me during the treatments I am currently undergoing.  The power of prayer is amazing!  And since it was Christmas, I gave our "Faith Goes the Distance" ornament.

 

December 29, 2006

Whew!  Thank goodness the holiday season is almost over!  I apologize for not writing for over 2 months!!  I can't believe it's been so long, but The Pink Ribbon Shop has been so busy, plus I am continuing with treatments & tests at MD Anderson, plus we took a 10-day vacation, etc.  I am thankful to finally be able to catch my breath so I can clean up my house and catch up on paperwork at the shop.  I really do need more help in our office!  (seriously.)

Anyway, if you are on our mailing list, you have already received our holiday promotional email that contained the happy news that my recent battery of tests (including blood work; breast & lymph node ultrasound; chest, femur & pelvis x-rays; and CT scans of the chest, abdomen & pelvis) showed much improvement or "disappearance" of lesions previously seen.  The pleural effusion (fluid around the lung) on the left lung has "nearly completely resolved," the bone lesions previously noted on my sternum, femur, and spine are "healing", and the enlarged lymph nodes previously seen near the sternum and clavicle can no longer be seen!   

Also, my CA 27-29 levels are now 11, well within the normal range and significantly lower than the last time they were checked a couple of months ago (when it was 37)!  God has been so good, answering our prayers and providing me with his healing touch.  Evidently he wants me to stick around for at least a little longer!  My doctor, Dr. Green (at MD Anderson) was so thrilled, she was giddy!  The fact that my symptoms responded so quickly to the medications was a good sign, and we are hoping that this also means that the current treatment regimen will work for a very long time!  We were told from the beginning that, of course, there is no treatment for cancer, but that many people can "live with their cancer" (even stage IV!) for a long time with the array of treatments that are available now.  (I'll note that "a long time" is a very relative term when you're discussing life expectancy of a stage IV cancer patient ... but we won't even go there).  So far, so good!

A brief run-down of the last couple of months ... WORK, WORK, WORK!  The Pink Ribbon Shop has been in overdrive since mid-September.  We love it, but it gets to be very draining at this level of activity for months straight.  And stressful!  And detrimental to our family life!  But we were able to send a $5,000 check to The Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans.  Some of our checks have been used to fund research grants to Louisiana State University's Health Science Center's cancer research laboratory!  We are working to fund the cure!

We actually squeezed in a vacation over Thanksgiving, which was wonderful, but I don't think we'd do it again, not at that time of year.  It was really difficult to leave the Shop for 10 days!  Orders continued to be filled, but it was hard not being there and being so "uninvolved" for so long.  The Colorado Rocky Mountains were absolutely breathtaking, as I knew they would be.  It turned out to be the perfect week to go, with snow on the ground the whole time, but mild temperatures and no rain or snowfall during our stay.  And no crowds because it was the off-peak season for travel.  The kids enjoyed playing in the snow (we're from Louisiana and we've lived in Texas for the past year, so snow is a real treat for us!) and we did some hiking and even took a sleigh ride.  I'll have to post some pictures of my girls in their pink ribbon fleece!!

Unfortunately I have fallen very behind on accepting "survivor stories" for our online collection.  I feel terrible about this ... I feel like I am drifting somewhat from my goal/ambition to use my experiences to help others in the same situation.  My New Year's resolution is to keep up with that in 2007.  As I said before, I really do need more help!

 

October 17, 2006

A lot of ups and downs during the past few weeks.  I had a lingering achiness in my right hip since the last treatment.  It started waking me up at night, so I got worried.  Now, for the rest of my life I guess, any time I have pain or discomfort anywhere in my body, I am going to think it's the cancer returning or worsening.  What a way to live!  :(   Really though, what do you do about that?  I am only 38, so I guess I am just beginning to feel the aches and pains of just getting older, but what does an older person do?  How do you know if it's normal aging or more cancer?

Anyway, I decided to call my doctor because naturally I wanted it checked out, and she agreed.  She scheduled me for an x-ray of the pelvis and a CA27-29 blood level.  I have to say that I don't have much confidence in plain x-rays these days, after all the mis-diagnoses I've had this year!  I conveyed my misgivings to Dr. Green and she assured me that cancer is what these doctors have a trained eye for.  That's all they do.  And I'm going to have to trust them (she didn't say that, but I just know that).  I am putting my total trust in these experts at MD Anderson!

We were happy (and relieved) to find out that the x-rays showed no sign of cancer anywhere in the pelvis, AND the CA27-29 levels were even lower than before!  It's 37, now in the "normal" range of 0-39!!  She suspected, based on my symptoms, that it may be bursitis or some other kind of inflammation going on in my hip, and recommended that I take ibuprofen 800mg three times a day.  So I have been, religiously, and I do feel better!  I so hope they are right, and that there's no new metastatic cancer in my hip.  I would hate to find out later that it was there, just very early.  I seem to have a keen sense of what's going on in my body.  I've been right about everything so far, even before the doctors could pinpoint it, I knew something was up, I didn't feel right.  Hope it's just bursitis this time.

All of the other factors point toward disease regression ... "almost completely resolved pleural effusion (fluid around the lung)", no signs of cancerous lesions in the lung, no more pain in the femur or sternum, and steadily decreasing tumor marker levels in the blood.  So with all of these improvements, it would be odd to have a totally new lesion in a completely different place in the body, without having the other already-established areas worsening.

Another treatment Thursday of this week.  I can't believe how quickly the four weeks are up every time!  We've been so busy with The Pink Ribbon Shop, we're practically meeting ourselves coming and going.  Plus I've been just a little obsessed with decorating the house ... so even when I'm not busy, the wheels in my mind are turning, sometimes keeping me awake at night!  It's like the first time in my life that I've had a beautiful house and some extra money to decorate it like I want, and I'm really enjoying it!  I've pretty much got it all worked out of where everything will go and on what wall, etc, etc. ... now I just have to shop and buy those items.  I'm having a Southern Living at Home party on October 27th -- can't wait!   Love their stuff!   Hey it's good to get my mind off of cancer, isn't it??!!

(speaking of cancer ...)  Oh and by the way, I am reading this new book called Praying Through Cancer.  I'm not just trying to promote my website or products, but this is a really really good book for women going through cancer of any kind (many, but not all, of the women in the book have had breast cancer).  It's a 90-day devotional.  Each day's readings are very short, very readable, stories and anecdotes from women who've had cancer, have been through it all.  Following the short story, there's a simple prayer.  I have found these prayers so helpful.  I feel I need guidance as to what to pray, how to pray, as I am sure many people do.  They've helped me stay focused on Christ and all he's given and continues to give us, and not to dwell on our unfortunate human circumstances.  Then it references the bible verse on which the prayer is based, so if you wish to read more, there you go.  I highly recommend it.  Sadly, I rarely go to the Bible afterwards ... I've been so tired and worn out that lately it's all I can do to read the devotional.

 

September 28, 2006

My, how time passes ... almost an entire month since my last entry here.  Like I said, we try to keep busy, and this past month has been no exception.  We've visited family and friends in Louisiana again, and the Pink Ribbon Shop is in high gear in preparation for Breast Cancer Awareness Month - October.

Good news:  about two weeks after my first treatment, the pain I had been having in my leg and sternum, began to dissipate.  I noticed that I wasn't using ibuprofen or Tylenol as much as I had been in the past few months.  Actually, I didn't realize just how BAD I had been feeling lately, until there was improvement and I was feeling so GOOD.  It was SO WONDERFUL to think that the medications were already at work.  There was a definite and noticeable improvement in my symptoms, so even though there was no objective evidence like scans or lab work to review, we knew that something good was happening!  Prayers had been answered.  :)

I received my 2nd treatment at MD Anderson on Thursday, August 24th.  Based on the discomfort that occurred as a result of my first treatment, I decided that this time, I would prepare for it by taking ibuprofen prophylactically, and it seemed to help.  Of course my veins didn't cooperate for the needlestick for the infusion, but that's another story!  The hours and days followed this 2nd treatment were uneventful, nothing like the first treatment.  My doctor had told me that the first one might be tough, because of the "flare pain", and she was surely right.  This time, I had a little achiness in my joints following the treatment, but that was it.  Pretty mild.  Another one down!!  Who knows how many more to go ...

In preparation for my 3rd treatment, I was scheduled for blood work (more than was done before the 1st two treatments) and a chest x-ray.  Finally, I might have some objective findings of improvement to go along with my feeling so good!  And, I was finally going to see my doctor again, for only the 2nd time, which I can't say I felt too comfortable with, going so long without seeing her, that is.  I guess that's just the way the system operates, but I found it hard to remember how everything went and hard to remember everything I wanted to tell her and ask her and talk about with her.  Should have written it down, I know!

GREAT NEWS !!!  My chest x-ray showed that my pleural effusion had "almost completely resolved" and there was "no evidence of metastatic disease" in the lungs.  Wow, that was surely great news!  Additionally, my CA27-29 levels had decreased to what was still an elevated level, but down from the 1st time it was checked.  Needless to say, Danny and I were ecstatic.  We made a bunch of phone calls on the way home, just like we did with the bad news a few months ago, only it was happy happy happy news!  My doctor was very excited as well.  She had told me that sometimes it took 2-3 months to see any kind of response from these medications, that they were slow-working, very unlike chemotherapy.  So that I had responded in a matter of weeks was, well, just great!

I was able to remember almost everything I wanted to discuss with her ... I've been having a general achiness all over, like when I get up from sitting down for a while.  I told her I feel like an old lady!  She said that that was normal, an expected reaction from the medications.  Forgot to mention how bad I've been sleeping, but all she could do is prescribe a sleeping pill which I definitely don't want.  Also forgot to mention having really strange dreams lately, but again, what could she do about that.  It's not like I'm going to get off of any of the meds because of it!

She had recommended that I see an orthopedist at MD Anderson for evaluation of the lesion on my left femur.  I did, and he didn't think it was severe enough to warrant surgery, but he said I may want to consider radiation to that area.  He was supposed to refer me, but didn't, and I wasn't sure why, so I asked my doctor (Dr. Green) what the ortho guy had told her ...Dr. Green said that ortho didn't really think radiation was warranted anyway, and especially so now that I was feeling so much better.  In any event, Dr. Green referred me to a radiation oncologist who I am supposed to see next week, so we'll see what's up with that.  I would feel better having the radiation treatments.  It would make me feel like we're aggressively treating everything in every way we can.  But maybe that's just me.  I'll discuss with the experts.

The other thing I wanted to talk to Dr. Green about was all the yucky stuff Danny and I had been reading on the internet.  Yes, there's a lot of junk out there, and you can't believe everything you read.  But I don't frequent chat rooms or forums or anything like that, especially when I am searching for medical information.  What we found most interesting, and the most discouraging, was study results of the drug Femara.  Billed as some kind of breakthrough drug that was shown in clinical trials to significantly prolong the life of breast cancer patients, Femara was a new drug (a few years ago now) that was to be used in post-menopausal women with advanced breast cancer.  We were stunned to read about the "significant" results from the clinical trials.  I don't remember all of it exactly, but what I do remember is that the "average time to treatment failure" was 9 months!  9 months!  What kind of you-know-what is that???  That was the time, on average, that Femara stopped working, and the patient needed to go on chemotherapy.  And the average life expectancy was 3 years!!!  Talk about sucky statistics!!!  But Danny and I talked about it and concluded that, yes, that was bad, but the pool of patients in the study probably consisted of the very worse, very advanced, possibly very old patients, in addition to young 'ens like me who were still able to remain active and go on with daily living activities.  So hopefully the former would have skewed those results.  Also, patients tend to go on clinical trials who have tried all other treatment options without success.  And lastly, some of those patients may have not responded at all to the Femara.  So again, all of that would skew the results.  We brought this up to Dr. Green, and she said that in her experience, time to treatment "failure" was about 1 year or maybe a little less.  Very discouraging, indeed.  BUT, she did agree about the clinical trial patient population issue.  PLUS the fact that I responded to the medication, and so quickly, well ... it's all good.  I could definitely end up being in the positive end of those averages, when you consider all of those things.  And the more time that passes, the more new drugs and treatments will become available.  Time is my friend!  The longer I can keep this monster under control, the better.  Here's to positive thinking!

Next time, I'll talk about genetic counseling and genetic testing for the breast cancer genes (BRCA-1 & BRCA-2).

Thanks for listening!

Kim

 

September 3, 2006

Wow, I can't believe so much time has passed since I've weblogged!  Well here goes, I'll try to bring it up to date.

I received my first monthly "hormone" treatment at MD Anderson on Thursday, July 27th.  That statement usually is met with a little confusion from most people who are not educated on the latest breast cancer treatments (which is most people!).  The way I've been explaining it is that it's more like an "anti-hormone" treatment.  The cancer I have is estrogen-dependent, so by blocking all estrogen production in my body, the treatment is intended to basically starve the tumor(s).  That my cancer is "estrogen receptor positive" is a good thing ... there are more treatment options because of this.

My doctor has prescribed Zolodex, which is given as a once-a-month subcutaneous (sub-q, for short) injection.  Usually a sub-q injection is administered with a very tiny, small gauge needle into the fatty tissue like under the arm or in the abdomen.  So, being a nurse, I was happy to hear that it was "just a sub-q"!  BUT ... the needle was just huge, about a 16-gauge (which is about 3/32 inch).  AND, the medicine in the syringe was actually a pellet of some sort, not just liquid, and it was to do in the abdomen!   It scared me to death, but then again I am quite the wimp when it comes to needles.  Who likes needles, after all??  The nurse applied a topical anesthetic and left it on for about one hour before giving the injection.  When the time came for the injection, I decided NOT to watch (usually I watch all of my procedures, but this time I just couldn't bring myself to look) and Danny let me squeeze his hand.  And I have to say, scared as I was, it wasn't so bad!  Yay!

During the one hour wait for the topical anesthetic to take full effect, the nurse started an IV on me (more needles!!) and of course had to stick me twice, because the first attempt was unsuccessful.  Since I've had a mastectomy with removal of many lymph nodes (13 to be exact) on the left side, I've been instructed to avoid getting IV's or injuries to the left arm, because of the risk of developing lymphedema.  So I think the veins in my right arm have about had it, and are therefore not as cooperative with needles.  Then again some people just have "bad veins" and maybe I have some of that going on, too.  Anyway, Zometa, the bone-building medication that my doctor prescribed, was given through the IV and caused me no trouble at all during the infusion.

How different this "treatment" was from my chemo days when I was first diagnosed in 2000!  At MD Anderson's breast center, when you arrive for your treatment (which for some people of course it's chemotherapy), you're put into a mini-sized hospital room, complete with your own comfortable and multi-position-able bed, TV, and DVD player.  And if you bring a guest, they have their own comfy chair right next to your bed.  When I received chemotherapy 6 1/2 years ago, it was given at my oncologist's office, where all of the patients sat in a big circle, in recliners.  Everyone had their own IV pole, but other than that you just had each other to look at.  I got a lot of reading done during those days!  I guess the idea was that you could talk to other patients, which I did, but there wasn't enough room to bring anyone, like my husband or sister or mom.  And also, although they were all cancer patients, they weren't all breast cancer patients.  But moving on ... here I am in a little private room with my husband (or anyone I want to accompany me) and it's kind of nice.  Almost relaxing, were it not for the circumstances, because here we were alone, with no kids!  How often does THAT happen?  We were able to have some nice uninterrupted conversation and listen to the music of my choice, which on that day was Chris Tomlin's How Great Is Our God.  I thought it was a really nice set-up.

The rest of that day, I went about my usual activities and was feeling pretty good!  I'm thinking, this is great, definitely NOTHING like chemo was for me during my first encounter with breast cancer.

The next day, my period started!  I had a headache, which had become a normal thing in the past several months.  But I couldn't help thinking that maybe this would be my last period ever!  That sounded wonderful!

Later that day, I was out doing some afternoon shopping, and I started to feel achy, all over.  Like I imagine an old person might feel.  Every step, every movement became pained, especially in my joints.  My doctor had warned me of this, and she had called it "flare pain."  She said that it may feel like the pain in my bones (from the bone metastasis) was getting worse, when actually it was a good sign that the medication was doing its job and getting to where it needed to go.  Everywhere the cancer had metastasized, I hurt.  And also in every other bone and joint in my body!  And my "period" headache was horrible!  The literature that I was given about the medications I had taken the day before stated that I should take NO OVER-THE-COUNTER PAIN-RELIEVERS!!  They (the papers) were quite clear on this, very emphatic, in fact.  So I am wondering, well, what CAN I take?  By this time it was late Friday evening.  I called my doctor's office and got the answering service.  There was an emergency number, but to me, a little discomfort didn't really constitute an "emergency," so I didn't call it.  Don't want to be the pain-in-the-butt patient to call for that, you know?  I would learn to regret that decision!

Throughout the night, the pain intensified, plus I was nauseated and feeling like you know what.  At the earliest what I considered to be respectable time (still not wanting to be a pain), about 8:00 a.m., Saturday morning, I put a call in to the doctor through the "triage" nurse.  I explained my situation and waited.  And waited, and waited, and waited.  All I wanted to know was what I could do for the pain.  Please someone just tell me, give me something to go on.  SIX HOURS LATER ... I received a call from the doctor on call, who said, "Oh, I see you're not getting any chemotherapy or anything like that, so you can take anything for pain, nothing will affect your 'counts'"  I was SO MAD!  During the six hour wait, I contemplated taking some Tylenol or Advil, but the papers said not to, so I wasn't about to do anything that would adversely affect my treatment!  And then to find out I could have taken anything all the while, Oh I was aggravated.  Definitely something to take up with my doctor next time I saw her.  And 6 hours was just so excessive.  Next time, my pain will be an emergency, if that's how it's going to be ... very disappointing for MD Anderson.  I certainly expected better.  I took a prescription pain med that my surgeon prescribed after my recent biopsy surgery, got a few hours of sleep, and woke up feeling much much better.  At around 5:00 a.m., I cancelled my family day trip to Austin (which, for me to do, it had to be bad!), but finally, by Saturday afternoon, I was feeling back to normal.  "Normal" meaning that I still had the pain in my leg, sternum, and ribs, but it wasn't like the "flare pain" that I had apparently just experienced.

I got through it, and after it was all said and done, I decided that I could put up with that, easily, just once a month, especially knowing that I could take something for the pain.  Next time, I thought, I would take something like ibuprofen as a prophylactic.  Before my treatment and every 6-8 hours for the 2 days following the treatment.  I had a plan!  The next treatment was not going to whip my butt like the first one did!

I must say, though ... at least it wasn't as bad as chemo was, I kept telling myself.  I try to use that as much as I can ... the "it could always be worse" way of thinking.  I never gave breast cancer much thought, being only 32 and having virtually no family history or risk factors.  But once I was diagnosed, I was like, "Hey, lob that breast off, let's get rid of the cancer immediately, I don't need that stinkin breast anyway!"  I used to think, in the years before my diagnosis, that having cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes basically meant that you were a goner.  It was all downhill from there.  But once it was ME, well I thought okay, positive lymph nodes, that's not so bad, I'll get chemo, radiation, and whatever else they want to give me, and I'll be done with cancer, hopefully forever.  Just get me through, Lord, and I'll be great, really, I can do this.  It could always be worse ... at least it wasn't in any other organs or bones.  THAT would be the kiss of death, stage IV cancer.

Well now it's here, stage IV, in the femur, sternum, spine, lung, and more lymph nodes.  I can't believe it's me.  I used to think, before it was me, that people with stage IV cancer were bald, emaciated, bed-ridden souls who were destined to die and probably sooner than later.  I am so NOT that soul, that sometimes I have a hard time believing it myself that I have stage IV breast cancer.  Now I'm telling Danny, "Well at least it's not in the liver or abdomen."  Surely that would be the end time.  You can't live without your liver functioning, right?

For now, I am alive and well, and am living life as best I can, as close to normalcy as I can.  Although everything has changed.  We are trying to do things and accomplish things that we thought we had the rest of our lives to do.  Like finishing up the photo album project.  Decorating my dream house the way I've always dreamed of doing.  Vacations, going to places and seeing things that I've always wanted to see.  Trying to leave pieces of me for all the kids to remember me with.  Spending time with the kids, sometimes individually, so they can get to know me better.  My sister-in-law told me that because of our situation, they are examining their lives as well.  Thinking that maybe everyone should live like that.  Like the song, live like you were dying.  Don't wait ... because you never know when you'll be plucked from this earth.  It could be tomorrow, it could be many years from now.

Who knows what I'll say if the cancer ever spreads to my liver.  At some point, I suppose it will get harder and harder to say "it could always be worse ..."

But I'll try!

 

August 14, 2006

Here is a link for a sneak peek at our e-mail scheduled to go out tomorrow at 10:00 a.m: August, 2006 e-mail.

July 29, 2006

Kim is in bed sick this morning.  We had to cancel our trip to Austin.  Our young girls, for some unknown reason, really want to see the State Capitol.  Kim has a slight fever, nausea, and bone and joint pain, all side effects of the medications she is on.  We spent this Thursday at M.D. Anderson where she was given her first of what will be a monthly treatment.

She had an injection of Zoladex under her skin.  She was happy to hear that it was subcutaneous and thought it shouldn't hurt much.  It turned out that Zoladex is a solid and not a liquid.  The needle was huge.  I don't ever have a problem with needles but I have to admit I would have been scared of that thing, especially with the injection site being the stomach.  The doctor prescribed a topical pain killer that was applied to the injection site about 30 minutes before the injection.  It had to work some because I was holding her hand and she didn't seem to flinch or squeeze as much as she should have.

Zoladex is a once a month treatment that will stop Kim's ovaries from producing estrogen and should put her into sudden menopause.  If it is effective at stopping her cancer from growing, she will get it every month.  It will take about three months to determine whether it is working or not.  It is a slower process than chemotherapy.  Even if it does work initially, we are told that it will eventually lose it's effectiveness and she will then have to try some other types of treatments.

She was also given an IV of her first monthly treatment of Zometa (we have been trying different memory tricks to keep those two straight).  Zometa will help her bones heal where the cancer has created holes.  It will also counteract the effects of osteoporosis caused by her chemically induced menopause.

"Zoladex, you know, like rolodex."  

"What does that have to do with estrogen and ovaries?"

"I don't know.  Hey I had an Aunt Meta...  ...just like Zometa."

"I don't see the connection."

"Yea, neither do I."

She will also begin taking Femara on Thursday.  It's a once daily pill that will stop her body from creating estrogen from other sources.  

We are hopeful and confident that the pain she is in right now is because her body is healing.  We are still not sure if this will happen every month or if this is because it is her first treatment.  She was fine Thursday and all day yesterday.  She started having a little discomfort last night and now this morning it seems to have finally caught up with her.

If we had been born in the 1800's instead of the 1900's, six years ago, Kim would have just gotten progressively sicker and died.  I would have been a 31 year-old single father with two daughters that I wouldn't quite know how to raise.  Instead, God put us here at this time where we have already been given an extra six years and a son.  He has also placed us close to M.D. Anderson where Kim can be given the best treatment available by the best doctors available with medications we are not even sure how to pronounce much less keep straight in our heads.

Every day is a gift.  Every kiss, every hug is a gift.  Every moment I spend with Kim is a gift.  Since Tuesday, I have been fully aware of this.  Don't let a day go by.  Don't let a moment go by without appreciating what you have.  Life is short.  Take what God has given you and hold it close to you.  Because one day it won't be there anymore.

 

July 26, 2006

Got my results yesterday and they were much worse than I expected.  Elevated CA 27-29.  Stage 4.  Bone mets to the femur, sternum, and spine.  Also 3 spots on the left lung with lots of fluid between the linings (?? forgot what that's called),  and multiple lymph node involvement (positive biopsy results of supraclavicular nodes, plus a large grape-like cluster underlying the sternum visible on CT scan).  

I will not have chemotherapy.   They've recommended hormone therapy as being just as effective at "prolonging life", but less toxic.  Fortunately my cancer is estrogen-dependent, which means they have a lot of treatment options.  So if one doesn't work, we'll move on the next.  If symptoms get worse, or if there's no response to the hormone therapy, then they'll do chemo.  

I was ready for chemo again, but the hormone therapy will be so much less disruptive to our lives and less obvious to the kids that there's a big problem:  a pill (Femara) once a day, and an injection once a month (plus an IV of a bone-building med once a month).  And no baldness!  I'll just have to endure the symptoms of abrupt menopause, but hey if that's what I have to do, so be it!  

I was sent this by a friend:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 

I think our tenacity to hold onto God's promises instead of the "facts" is the most important key. 

 

July 19, 2006

Hello all ... I emailed a very good nurse friend of mine last week.  She wanted to know details, so I gave her a detailed synopsis of the development of my latest breast cancer recurrence.  I thought it would be good to include it here, for those of you who perhaps have not been following along from the beginning (if you have, please skip down).

Okay ... remember the lump I found back in December that we thought was cancer and they said that it wasn't?  Well a few weeks ago my oncologist decided to surgically biopsy it because he didn't like the look of it (it had grown, and there was some discoloration visible just under the skin), and it turned out to be cancer.  The margins were technically "clear", but the pathologist said that the superior (upper) edge of the specimen was "close".  The surgeon wanted to go back in and remove more tissue, superiorly, but I decided to wait and see what MD Anderson has to say.  Unfortunately they couldn't see me for 3 weeks, which has been excruciating, my appointment is on July 18.  All my labs (liver, blood counts, and tumor markers) were perfectly normal.  I've not been happy with my oncologist since moving here (to the Houston area) -- he doesn't take me seriously and is quick to discount me and basically blow me off.  So of course this is the last straw, and believe me, I have anger issues, now that I know that this was misdiagnosed since January by not only my oncologist, but by a "breast specialty center" whose highly recommended doctor personally ultrasounded the lump and reported that it was just a cyst and nothing to worry about and that she didn't even recommend biopsy, so sure was she that it wasn't cancer.  AND,  back in January I was also having pain just to the left of my sternum, which is exactly where my original cancer was, so I was very concerned about that as well the new lump which was at the mastectomy/reconstruction scar.  So the oncologist ordered a bone scan which showed nothing at the sternum but showed something on my femur! suspicious of bone metastasis.  I had no symptoms in my leg, so I was quite shocked about that!  Then they did an MRI on the leg which also showed "something", also noted by the radiologist as being suspicious of malignancy.  PET scan of the whole body showed nothing on the leg -- so it was decided that no, it wasn't cancer, but no one could tell me what it was.  I went to see an orthopedist, but he told me that he was "not too good at reading MRIs"  (!) and did a plain x-ray (high tech kind of guy, huh?) which again showed "something", but he said it wasn't cancer, but really didn't know what it was!  But the PET scan also showed nothing in the area of what we now know IS cancer (the lump at the scar).  The sternum and some ribs showed up on PET scan, but at the time it was felt that it was somehow related to inflammation or radiation to that area.  (oh and also increased intensity at the esophagus ... colonoscopy and EGD showed GERD and mild hiatal hernia, of which I had no symptoms whatsoever).  Am I a mess, or what???   Soooooooo ...... now I am left with nothing but more questions, and I am basically questioning everything I was told in January.  I wonder if anyone knew anything of what they were talking about.  And now I have pain in that left leg, which worries me.  So I'm off to MD Anderson for evaluation of course, but also a repeat of all the usual battery of tests ... mammo, US, bone scan, CT's, whatever they want to do to me, because I just want some definitive answers.  It's been crazy!  ...  So I just can't wait to get some answers and move on.  The surgeon thinks I'll probably get chemo again, which is fine, that's not so bad.  Heck, if I have to get that every 6 years to stay alive, I'll do it.

So there you have it, sorry that it's a bit long, but it's about as compact as I could make it without sacrificing pertinent facts.

This week was THE week, when my appointment at MD Anderson (MDA) finally came to be!  What a huge place it is!  But very organized.  And everyone there was very friendly, and even technicians knew of my pertinent medical history.  I remain impressed!

No real news just yet.  I met with my doctor, Dr. Marjorie Green, yesterday, and I really like her.  She said that the superior margin (of the recent lump's biopsy) was NOT clear, as opposed to "clear, but close superiorly" from the original pathology report.  I'm not sure whether she or someone there actually viewed my tissue slides and prepared their own report, or if we (both I and my surgeon) misread the report.  Also she said that now that they've made some changes to the cancer staging protocols, my original cancer from 2000 now qualifies as Stage 3, due to the extensive lymph node involvement, whereas back then it was Stage 2.
 
After the doctor appt I had a chest x-ray and labwork, and that was it.  I did not get much sleep last night.  I tossed and turned the entire 5 hours that I allowed myself to sleep, and had to get up at 5:00 a.m. for today's round of tests.  I kept visualizing all the hallways and elevators and many waiting rooms at MDA!  Our brains evidently kept working on processing all of the information we received during the day ... both Danny and I got out of bed this morning with more questions in mind to ask Dr. Green on my next visit.

Today I had an ultrasound, which showed nothing at the new biopsy site (evidently the non-clear margins are only on the microscopic level, which is good, I guess) or the sternum, but there were two suspicious supraclavicular lymph nodes (located just above and adjacent to the collar bones) that they decided to do a fine needle aspiration (FNA) on.  Talk about hurt!  Definitely not fun.  It's still sore.  And the nurse was like, "it's just a very very small needle".  Yes, but one that they dug around under my skin for way too long.  I happen to look over at the monitor and saw the procedure taking place ... I really shouldn't have.  Have you ever seen liposuction being done, where there's some long object being moved all over under the skin and it looks like the surgeon is trying to kill something with it??  That's what she was doing with the needle!!  She used a local anesthetic, but come on!  And they wouldn't let my husband, Danny, be in during the procedure (now I know why!), so it was quite an experience.  I had to utilize some deep breathing skills!  Preliminary results were that they were "concerned" about them, but complete pathology will take about 48 hrs.

Anyway, then it was off for the radioactive injection in preparation for the bone scan.  2 sticks  :(.  The bone scan is not bad, really, but the part where the "thing-y" is right over my face, that always seems to get to me.  I have to make a conscious effort to ignore it, keep my eyes closed, and breathe.  Today I tried to silently sing some of my favorite songs from my favorite Christian band, Third Day, and I couldn't, for the life of me, think of more than one song!  I got through it regardless.  :)

Moving on ... I could see, plainly, on the monitor above me (which probably shouldn't have been in my view) that the "something" was still very apparent on my left femur.  So I wasn't surprised when the tech came in and said that the doctor wanted to do a "more fancy test" from about my waist down.  That turned out to be some special kind of bone scan, from all angles, in combination with a CT.  Upon further questioning of the tech ... yes, the thing on my leg was still there, but that wasn't what they wanted to look at more closely.  It was my spine!  Needless to say that was very upsetting, and of course they don't like to give you any actual results right there.  So now I must wait for Tuesday (my next doctor appt) for results.

Tomorrow are my CT scans of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis, and please please please, I am hoping for no more surprise findings!!!  Today was a very exhausting day, both physically and emotionally.

And I wait, again ... 6 more days for some real results.

Thanks for listening!

 

 

July 10, 2006

The three week wait between when I was told I had recurrent breast cancer and my appointment at MD Anderson, on July 18th, has been truly excruciating!  I am busying myself with trying to attain "normalcy" in my life and my family's, which at this time in my life, has fortunately not been that hard to do.  We're just so busy ... the kids are out of school for the summer and I've done my best to keep them active and entertained and their schedules full, but with plenty of unstructured "play" time as well.  

We've just moved into a new home and are still unpacking and organizing non-essentials.  Trying also to catch up at The Pink Ribbon Shop ... with the move and all, the PRS has been somewhat neglected in the past couple of months.  The mini-vacation we talked about earlier, well, now we feel like we definitely should take, because who knows where the next few months will take us.  You can't help think that way when you've just been told that your cancer is back!  And now, this week, the ultimate distraction from thinking about breast cancer ... my first grandson, Jacob Tyler, was born!  

I am way too young to have a grandchild!  But he is beautiful, and I am so thankful that my daughter and son-in-law decided to move here to Texas a few months ago.  They had been displaced for many months because of  Hurricane Katrina, staying with various family members, until finally they made the decision to move nearer to family (us!) and to a more family friendly area with a great economy and little crime.  I digress ... but it's nice to not think about cancer for a while!

So far I have been very impressed with MD Anderson, and I haven't even been there yet.  As a new patient, I have one person assigned to put my "file" together, a case worker, so to speak, although I don't know what his actual title is.  This one person is in charge of making sure all of my past records make it to their facility.  He is knowledgeable with all the medical terminology as it relates to my diagnosis and to exactly which records they'll need in order to provide comprehensive treatment.  

Of course, I had work to do to gather all of the necessary information, but I can't tell you how good it feels to have someone working with me on all of this.  My current oncologist (well, now former oncologist) just never grasped my big picture.  I found myself having to remind him of various aspects of my condition and treatments.  Very sad, and of course I simply had no confidence in his ability to thoroughly manage my care.  

MD Anderson is even requesting my pathology tissue samples! from my original biopsy and mastectomy from 2000.  I am thinking that finally, someone will look at my entire history and really get to know my case!  Maybe I'll get some answers instead of just a shoulder shrug and a "hmm, we don't know what that is, but it's not cancer". (I am referring to the something that showed up in January on my left femur on both a bone scan and MRI, but not a PET scan -- for that matter, the lump we now know IS cancer on my left breast did not show up on that same PET scan).  It all has really made me wonder if any of what I've been told this year is accurate!

Here's hoping that MD Anderson lives up to my expectations ... and "cures" me of breast cancer for at least another 6 years!!

 

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

June 28, 2006

Two or three days before Monday's news I had started to read a book called The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan.  In it, he discusses the circumstances we find ourselves in through daily life and how we see our circumstances compared to how God sees them.  Buchanan's words came back to my mind while talking to a neighbor yesterday.  

"We won't change our minds, won't revise our attitudes, until someone--God, a parent, a boss, a spouse, a child, a coworker--changes our circumstances.  We refuse to budge until someone moves a mountain.  Our lives shuttle between an alteration of if only, what if, and as soon as:  If only I had more money.  As soon as I get a different job.  What if my husband loved me more?  If only my child wasn't rebellious . . . As soon as . . . What if . . .

But this is not how God works.

This is:  'Be transformed by the renewing of your mind'; 'Be made new in the attitude of your minds' (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23).

Under God's economy, nothing really changes until our minds do.  Transformation is the fruit of a changed outlook.  First our minds are renewed, and then we are transformed, and then everything is different, even if it stays the same.

God is more interested in changing your thinking than in changing your circumstances.  He wants you to have the same attitude as and the very mind of Jesus Christ (see Phil. 2:5-8).  To pull that off is a miracle larger than splitting oceans or tossing mountains into them.  It is akin to raising the dead.  Yet this is the daily occupation of the Spirit--leading us into all truth, reminding us of the things Christ taught, taking the things of Christ and making them known to us again.  And this is the one area above all where we are urged to keep in step with the Spirit--to move in the direction He's moving so that, seeing differently, we are free to live differently (see Gal. 5:22-25)."  

The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan.

The questions yesterday were, Why me?  Why now?  If everything happens for a reason, what possible reason could this be happening again?  Why was this mis-diagnosed in January?

I find some answers to these questions in Mark Buchanan's words, "God is more interested in changing your thinking than in changing your circumstances."

In the big picture of life, eternal life, our circumstances here on earth are of very little consequence.  Jesus has won our souls and has paid the price for our lives so that if we accept Him we will belong to Him and have eternal life.

Sometimes its hard to stay focused on this fact and trust that you are in God's hands and that He is continually shaping you in his image.  Unfortunately sin has made this process difficult and painful and we won't fully achieve holiness here on earth.  But it is one of the great things we have to look forward to and maybe just for a moment here on earth we can rest in His peace.

June 26, 2006

I've been on the phone most of the afternoon having to tell the same story to everyone I know.  I'll just copy and paste what I wrote to a friend tonight.

I just found out some bad news today.  The breast cancer has returned, to the same side.  Long story, but it's the same lump that was pronounced "benign" by more than two physicians in January that is now "recurrent cancer."  I just read last night that the chances of recurrence on the same side after having a mastectomy are 1%.  I'm in that unlucky 1%!  

I have an appointment to see a doctor at MD Anderson on July 18th, and that's where I'll get all my treatment from here on out.  Thankfully we're here, near Houston and one of the best places in the world to receive cancer treatment.  Maybe that was all in the plan, who knows.  I am thinking positively that it's contained in just the lump and it's very treatable, again.  

We don't have the pathology report yet from Friday's biopsy, just a verbal report from the pathologist that it's cancer.  Keep us in your prayers, I'm sure I'll be fine though.  Heck, if I have to have chemo every 6 years, that's not too bad!

 

June 23, 2006

Wow!  What a month we have had.  We are finally moved into our new place and are really happy with our home.  We had no idea the move would take so much of our time.  Within the last year we have moved our shop twice and our home twice and have help other family members flee New Orleans for Houston.  This has truly been the year of moving for us and we hope we won't have to do it again for a long time.

We also have lots of new products ready to be introduced on our site.  Hopefully we can get the pictures ready and the product pages up sometime in July.

The one thing that could slow us down is the lump in my breast.  Last week we went to my oncologist and he was bothered that the lump has moved closer to the surface and has some discoloration.  He wanted it removed, which was done this morning.

I've lost count of how many surgeries this makes, and it's getting a little old.  We won't have any results of the biopsy until Wednesday.  It's hard to even think about what we will do if it's cancer again.  

It's all just very tiring.  I just wanted to post a little update before I go to sleep.  Thanks for reading.

 

May 6, 2006

We continue to go through our old survivor stories from our old site.  Here is a "story" from 2002 that we thought would fit better here.  By the way, we can still get the Avon candles every once in awhile.  It's as if Avon finds some more in a warehouse somewhere.  We just recently had them but are now out again.  It was one of our first products back in 2001 and the scent still reminds us of our early days filling orders on our kitchen table!

Here's Debbie:

Dear Kim, 

I am a 4 year survivor and I too reacted to the news in a similar style, except that I started a support group for women with breast cancer as there was not one available in my area just for Breast cancer. I have met the most wonderful people and made more special friends that are now like sisters. We also want to spread the word about the importance of early detection.  We are called 'The Circle of Friends' and have become a very active group, participating in the American Cancer Society (ACS) Relay for Life and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, as well as being trained as Reach to Recovery volunteers for the ACS. 

Isn't it amazing how something we once thought of as the most horrible thing that we could face, God can use to energize and enrich our lives and change our thinking about so many aspects of life. WOW!! I too LOVE pink ribbon products, because they open many conversations about breast cancer with almost anyone you meet, and stand as a symbol of the circle of love, hope, growth, and fulfillment that we women find ourselves in when we belong to a 'sisterhood of breast cancer Survivors and Supporters'. 

I wouldn't change the events that brought me to this place in my life for anything because God has truly blessed me in ways I never imagined.  I love my Circle of Friends and  wish the same kind of friendships for each and every woman who has to accept the diagnosis of breast cancer, and pray that god blesses them with the love of a husband, family and friends that he gave me, and the courage to move past the diagnosis toward reconciliation and recovery. 

I congratulate you on using your experience to help others, with The Pink Ribbon Shop, and especially for appealing to the feminine side of us gals with unique, pretty accessories and products that proudly bear our victory symbol, our PINK Ribbon of Hope!!  

I would love to see if you could locate an item similar to the Pink Ribbon Candle that Avon carried, but has recently discontinued. My friends and I just loved those candles for our homes as well as gifts for those special in our lives, and I am so disappointed that we can't get them anymore. We have a 30 year survivor in our group that is an Avon representative and that is how I found out that they were unavailable. I hope you can find something in a pretty candle to add to your line. And I encourage all women to get involved in some aspect of spreading awareness of the importance of early detection and treatment of breast cancer, including self exams for younger women and teens. 

One of my favorite quotes is "In order to succeed ( in anything- even Breast Cancer..my words) you must lose yourself in something bigger than yourself." Getting involved helps make it just a little bit easier for those women who are sitting in a doctor's office today, hearing the 'news, and those waiting frantically by the phone for a call. We all have been there; we know; and there are so many ways a survivor can volunteer, or do something to help. 

God Bless you for what you have done and are continuing to do, and May God continue to bless all of the thoughtful people who have taken time to write and offer encouragement and comfort. My two favorite scriptures are Jeremiah 29:11 and 1 Thessalonians 3:10. 

In His grip, 
Debbie

"For I know the plans I have for you." declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. 1 Thessalonians 3:10

 

May 1, 2006

There is still time to shop on-line for Mother's Day.  We are currently offering free UPS 3 day select shipping on U.S. orders over $75.00.  We have also finally gotten our new book Dancing With Fear available for purchase.

Also, if you haven't received our latest e-mail, you can see it on-line here: http://www.pinkribbonshop.com/06-may.htm

 

April 27, 2006

Here is a letter from Janet:

My name is Janet and I am now 39 years old.  I found my lump last January, 2005, when I was 38.  I couldn't believe it I thought Ii was one of the healthiest people around....NOT overweight, don't smoke, exercised all my life and the only liquid I drink is water!  

I have a husband and two girls, ages 4 and 6.  I had a lumpectomy in Feb. and started chemo thereafter...also had radiation. I was devastated when my shoulder length curly hair had to be cut.  Even more devastated when I went bald...NOTHING could prepare me for that...NOTHING..... ....to make a long story short, my girls were SO AWESOME through my whole year....they are so young, yet SO mature...I love them SO MUCH.

Now, my hair is SO curly and really short.  Everyone tells me that I am lucky because I have the "right kind of face" for short hair. (I will never know exactly what this means!!) I feel great now (but then, I felt great the week before I found my lump)  I would love to be a part of this pink ribbon website, if anything, to meet other women- I know that it really helps to know that you are not alone. Thanks for taking the time to read my story!  

 
 
Thanks for sharing your story!  Sounds like you have a lot to live for!!  I remember one of my little daughters (age 3 1/2 at the time I was diagnosed) told me "I think you're beautiful!" when I was discussing (probably sadly) my chemo-baldness.  It was as if she didn't even notice!  I'll take temporary baldness over death-by-cancer any day!
 
May you have many years ahead as a survivor!!

Here is an e-mail we received without a name:

One morning when I was 25 years old my life changed, and what a change it was. A new mother a new wife and 25 surgeries later, cancer scared the daylights out of me. Every treatment was done, but at the end both breasts were gone forever, along with a part of me. I'm 44 now have been cancer free for 19 years. Also I became a mother three times over,  after everything they said I would never have another baby, well I did. God put me here on this earth to help people, guide them through, if I can only make a small difference it wouldn't have been for nothing.
 
 
Thanks for sharing your story!
 
Wow, you sure have been through a lot!  25 surgeries ... what happened?  19 years, cancer free, I just love hearing that!  I am 6 years out now and so far, so good.
 
I, too, had a baby after breast cancer.   We always wanted a 4th, but didn't think it could happen after chemo, etc., but God gave us a boy after already having 3 girls -- what a blessing!

 

April 26, 2006

We heard back from Carlottra:

Good morning!!

I was so surprise to hear from you!!  Thanks so very much for taking the time!!  I really appreciate you doing that!! I realize that you must be very busy, so it means more than you will ever know!!

I had another mammogram on Tuesday. I will begin radiation treatment on Thursday.  My Doctors are very good and wanted me to do another exam to compare after I have completed my treatments!!

 
Thanks so very much for the bracelet!!

Well I must go into my office.  You have really made my "Day"!! I am not to good at this "computer thing"  Smile, and I was not sure that you would receive my message, let alone respond!!  THANKS SO VERY MUCH!!  HAVE A GREAT DAY!! 

Thanks again, you made our day!

Here is a letter from Walterene:

My name is Walterene and I was diagnosed January of 1998 with Breast Cancer. At the time my daughters were 17 and 4. I went through a Mastectomy, Chemo and Radiation.  I then went through my remission stage. Then on September 18, 2003 (just 10 days before my birthday) I was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer and was told at the time that I would live at best 3-6 years. 

By this time I had another daughter who was at the time 3 years old. Since that time I have been on and off Chemotherapy. I know it is as hard on my family as it is on me. So far I have attended the funeral of a dear friend who was buried on my past birthday (September 28, 2005) and now have a current friend with advanced Lung Cancer and is in the hospital after suffering a stroke.

At times I wonder who is really the lucky one here. Those who have passed on as they are no longer in pain or myself who is still here dealing with the various side effects of the chemotherapy and the emotional state of mind it can put me in. But when I start thinking about that I think of my children and that brings me back to a happy train of thought.

As of this September 18th I will have survived 3 years so far and I am determined to keep on going!!!!!!!

Thank you for sharing your story. Wow, you've really had a rough time of it. I, too, had a baby (a boy, after 3 girls! :) after breast cancer, though no recurrence as of today, 6 years later. My heart and prayers go out to you during your ongoing treatment and struggle with cancer. You have a lot to live for, so keep your head up and your prayers flowing. May you have many years ahead as a survivor!


April 25, 2006

Here is a letter from Danielle:

My story is of my mom surviving breast cancer. I'm currently going to school for massage therapy and one night I gave my mom a massage over her chest and I found a lump. She had it biopsied. It came back benign but she needed to have it removed because it grew within a couple weeks.

So she had it removed and the doctors did a 24 hr culture and the results came back that there was cancer cells in the tissue. The lump was benign but the doctors told my mom that if she would've let it go for 6 months to 3 years she would've been completely full of cancer. 

In light of the finding of breast cancer my parents are promoting a Breast Cancer Awareness Fun Run for motorcycles and antique cars to ride in. The money is going to the pink ribbon fund & sponsors. The date is set for June 17th, 2006. Thanks for taking the time to read my story. My mom's name is Dawn and I'm her daughter Danielle.

Thanks for sharing your mom's story.  The Lord works in mysterious ways ... it's no accident that you found that lump in such an unusual way! May she have many years ahead as a survivor!

Good luck with your fundraising event!

Here is a letter from Jean:

I am writing to you from Liverpool England.
 
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2005 after constantly banging my right breast in the doctors surgery that I work at it became bruised, I never thought about cancer as none of my family of older generation had ever had it. I was advised to go for a mammogram  from my doctor after the bruise had become black and quite firm to touch.
 
I went on the 29th December 2005 at the Linda McCartney centre in Liverpool.  They did the usual both breasts screening and although my right breast was clear they had in fact found a lump in the left breast! I still at this point was not too concerned as I said no one in the family has had cancer, they took a biopsy within the hour and I was asked to go for a coffee.  After an hour or so they called me in and to my horror told me that I had cancer, but because it was an incidental finding as I had originally gone with the right breast the future chances of successfully removing the lump was a good one.
 
That was the 29th December and before I had left the hospital my surgeon had already a date for my operation on the 18th Jan 2006.  Although the operation was a success they had found a new form of early cancer just on the outside of the lump so I had to go back in on the 28th February 2006 to remove the rest. 

I was told on the 17th March 2006 that I was clear and what a feeling that was I don't think words can describe as I had been putting on a brave face for my husband and my 16 yr old son.  I am now having radiology as my cancer had not spread to my nodes and the cancer was not an aggressive one I was lucky enough not to have chemotherapy.  As I have only turned 46 in March I do have to have an extra booster treatment for a further week which means 5 weeks normal and 1 week booster.

 
I do feel extremely lucky to have it discovered so early as the surgeon said it would be another 12 months before I felt anything.

I have the doctors counter to thank as if I had not banged into it constantly then I still have cancer and yes the counter has now been taken down. I hope my experience will be of some help to others that think the word CANCER means the end!! I have a new lease of life and I am going to live everyday to the fullest.

 
Regards
Jean
 

Thank you for sharing your story!   It sounds like an angel was there with you when went in to have your right breast checked, only to discover that you had cancer in your left breast!

 
May you have many years ahead as a survivor!

 

April 20, 2006

We added 13 new products to our site.  If you didn't get the e-mail you can read it here: http://www.pinkribbonshop.com/06-april.htm

We got an e-mail earlier this month from DJ.  She walked the Chicago Breast Cancer 3-Day last year and lost her toenail (admittedly due to lack of training) in honor of her lifetime best friend Kelly and Kelly's sister Karen. Both two-time survivors.  She also started a website about her 3-day walk, training and even her toenails.  If you are planning to do a 3-Day walk this spring, you might find DJ's website interesting and entertaining.

We also received and e-mail from Dionne.  She is a 4x survivor from Canada and is also raising money for research.  Her site is CancerSurvivorInTheCity.com be sure to read her story and checkout her products under "Survivor Souvenirs."  

Last to post today is an e-mail from Carlottra:

I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. (January 06)
I am sure my story is no different than other women, first disbelief, and second, why me?  I am honestly still dealing with both.  Some days I think it is all a bad nightmare, and other days I see  strength from other women God has placed in my path to show me that this is not an automatic death sentence.            
I have found strength by sharing my story and that is how I came to learn of you and this wonderful project.  I have observed many people with the wrist band.  I recently inquired to one wonderful lady about her band.  She told me that she is wearing the band for her young nephew here in Jacksonville, Fl. (I believe he is 23 years old) who has cancer.  I shared my story with her and she immediately took the band off her arm and gave it to me.  She also asked me my name and said she would begin praying for me!!  I can not begin to tell you what this experience has meant to me.
I am placing an order today to share with my family and love ones as I go through this journey.  I will always treasure and never remove the one she gave me "Live Strong" and I will try very hard to live up to those encouraging words.
 
In closing I am reminded of her young nephew, my own son is 25 years old.  "Today" was a beginning for me not to ask "why"?, but "why not"?
 
Thank you so very much for your vision and most of all for sharing it with the world!  

Carlottra

 

Thank you for sharing your story, and thanks for your kind words about our website.  A diagnosis of breast cancer can certainly be life-changing!  You really find out how much you are cared about.

 
My prayers are with you also!  May you have many years ahead as a survivor.

P.S.  We haven't received our "Dancing With Fear" books yet.  They are coming from Canada.  We will make them available on our site as soon as they arrive.


April 13, 2006

We have been working on a number of new products for our site.  It looks like we will be adding about 12 to 13 next week.  We have been able to obtain a few products you may have seen before by designer Sandra Magsamen  seen below along with "Hannabell" the angel.

Sandra Magsamen Pink Ribbon Mug

The plaque on the right also comes with the words, "Hope" and "Strength."  

We also have two new books we are excited to be adding to our new book selection.   We will have, "Dancing With Fear," a book written entirely by breast cancer survivors.  125 women share their real-life experience through treatments, recovery, aftermath, and reclaiming life after breast cancer.  This 223 page book is a must read for anyone currently dealing with breast cancer either personally or helping a friend or loved one.  We hope we ordered enough!

We also have a Cookbook with a nice variety of favorite recipes followed by a collection of survivor stories and poems. Makes a great gift for your favorite breast cancer survivor who loves to be in the kitchen.

We were encouraged this week by Joyce.  She writes:

Hi, Kim

 

My Mom had breast cancer – in the ‘60’s – she had a radical mastectomy. She noticed a lump & told her "then" Doctor a couple of years before her surgery - you know what his response was?..."'you women are all the same, you all think you have cancer'"  - can you believe that??!!  I wish he were alive now - I'd give him a piece of my mind besides wanting to bring him up on charges of malpractice. She has since passed away (in 2001 on her birthday no less - age 80/81) –  although not from cancer. I faithfully go each year for my mammogram!

 

What a fantastic way to “get the word out” about cancer with The Pink Ribbon Shop!  Congratulations on beginning it.  I came across the site as a result of a woman in Ohio who made baby bibs, posted a picture of it on Smart Needle website & had her web address listed with the picture.  On her web address (www.mjstitch4u.com) she had written about having some of her products in your store.  So – you see with just that original posting, I found your site!

 

I am a crafter in MA (in business for 4 years now) – primarily pillows of all kinds, totes, purses, home décor. While living in Las Vegas last year, I donated pillows to the American Cancer Society for one of their annual runs as I felt it is a very worthy cause. 

 

I have a website as well – www.pleasingpillows-plus.com – my husband & I are in the process of finalizing it.

 

I wish you continued success, Kim,  and hope your battle against cancer continues to be a very victorious one! 

 

PS - I read parts of "Danny's story" - I must admit I couldn't make it through the whole story - tears welling up in my eyes.... but I did read you made it thru the chemo & went on to have a healthy baby boy later on!  Congratulations to you & your family!!!

 

Sincerely,

Joyce

 

 

Joyce
 
Thanks for taking the time to write, and for your kind words about our website and products and story.  It's amazing how word really gets around about our site.
 
All too often we've heard from women whose doctors dismissed their complaints/symptoms, only later for them to be diagnosed with breast cancer.  It's just SO important to be in control of your own health care and body.

 

April 12, 2006

We posted Nancy's breast cancer survivor story.  Here she writes back:

Hi Kim,
Thanks so much for your response. A bracelet would be nice, since I broke the one I've been wearing for over 2 years. I have several Breast Cancer Awareness bracelets, but somehow it seems the "arm band" gets more attention from people who ask what it is for. That just opens up the door to remind whoever to have their mammograms regularly.

We also posted Leitha's breast cancer survivor story.  And she wrote back also:

I'm proud to say, my son wears the pink bracelet given to me by breast imaging techs, and my husband had a pin on his briefcase but has lost it. Another pin for his briefcase would be wonderful.
 
I hope my story brings hope to people who feel there is none. I know that feeling, the second call saying "you have cancer again", the second time you walk towards that huge radiation machine, the second time you feel the poison of the chemo draining you of you last ounce of energy. It's hard, but when you wake up tomorrow, believe there is a purpose to that day for you, because if you wake up tomorrow, it's because God does have a purpose for you. Thank you for letting me tell my story.

 

April 5, 2006

This is a short story from Marsha about her sister Linda:
 
My sister Linda and I  grew up in a large family almost everyone on my mothers side of the family had some kind of cancer My Grandma breast cancer my Mother breast cancer 2 Aunts breast cancer. An Uncle lung cancer. Cancer also ran on my fathers side of the family. 

Like every female the fear is always there when it runs on both sides of the family and you can trace it down the family tree. The day my sister Linda called to tell me the news, my heart fell, seems like the years had driven us apart each living our own life. Now she had the big C word. Dare I say it , Breast Cancer, how? Why? Nooooo not now not ever please Dear God don't take my sister Linda. But what was I thinking? This was my sister Linda a.k.a. Mrs. Cleaver, Lucy, wife, mother, friend and above all my sister. 

But my sister she handled it so well she was sleepy from chemotherapy, yes she had her days but she seemed to fit it all in to her busy schedule. She planned her only daughters wedding, did all the floral arrangements herself, her shopping day for groceries is Thursday which she also did every week, and yes on Thursday Linda even drove herself to Chemo and back home again. She relied on herself. She rarely asked for help. She somehow managed to do it all! 

How you ask, I'm not quite sure, I believe the prayers from friends and family helped. Also the angel on her shoulder, and the love of friends and family and most of all God. But Linda's determination to continue to go on, to fight no matter what, to get outta bed when she really wanted to stay there sleeping. Her will to go on helped my sister survive. I'm so proud of Linda, I know she's not the only woman who has survived Breast Cancer with determination to live but my sister Linda's  story should be told. I believe she's a miracle, she is so strong. When I grow up I wanna be just like her! I love you Linda.

Your Little sister,

Marsha
 

Thanks for sharing your sister's story!  May she have many many years ahead as a survivor!

 

Dear Kim,


I am a Breast Cancer survivor.  It has been four years since my last surgery.  I was diagnosed in Jan. 2002.  I had a lumpectomy on my right breast and five out of the six margins of the specimen were not clean.  I still had the cancer.  I had an extended lumpectomy, I was still trying breast conserving surgery.  The margins still were not clean.  I still had cancer.  The next step was mastectomy.  I decided to have TRAM flap reconstruction surgery also.  

That was four years ago.  I am on Letrozole since I had  a lymph node also involved, making my cancer Stage II, and I am post menopausal (age 54 at diagnosis).  Lucky me I'm old.  Since that time, I have been giving out breast cancer angel pins to any survivor, family member or some one waiting for results of a biopsy.  I am a nurse working in a local hospital, so I meet a lot of survivors.  In the past four years I have given out over 500 angels. This has helped me cope with my diagnosis.  I will continue to give out angels for as long as I survive.

                                      

Your friend in Pink,

Rosemary
 

Thanks for sharing your story of survival!  I've never quite understood the idea of "breast conserving surgery."  It's cancer, life or death, I always wanted to do every possible treatment option so it would NEVER come back!  Never mind keeping a partial breast!

 
500 angels, you sound like quite an angel yourself!  May you have many years ahead as a survivor.

 

April 4, 2006

We just moved our last few pieces of stuff Friday from our old shop to our new shop.  In the meantime Danny's Grandmother died and we traveled back to New Orleans for a memorial service for both his Grandmother and Grandfather who died in hurricane Katrina.  They are together again after being apart for only a short time.  The service was held at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, Louisiana.  Memorials are truly for the living.  It was a sermon of God's grace and the hold he puts on our lives and how he claims us for his own.  He claimed Danny's Grandparents and I pray he claimed a few more at the service.

First Thessalonians chapter four verse thirteen tells us, "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope."   For the Christian, sleep is a particularly apt metaphor for death, since death's finality and horror are removed by the assurance of resurrection.

The fourteenth verse goes on, "We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him."  Paul, the author of this book of the bible, does not say that Christ "slept," perhaps to underscore the fact that he bore the full horror of death so that those who believe in him would not have to.

As Easter approaches we are reminded once again of the death and resurrection of Jesus and how His resurrection gives us the hope of eternal life.  He gave His life for Danny's grandparents and He gave His life for you. 

Most of you visiting here have been touched by breast cancer.  Cancer is terrible and life threatening but it can only end your earthly life.  Christ has given His life so that yours can be eternal.  If you haven't already, accept His offer.  Confess that you can't earn your way into heaven by being good.  God will judge you by your thoughts and actions.  Jesus has stepped in and said, "No, take my life instead."  God accepted the deal.  

On Good Friday we remember that as Jesus hung by nails dying on the cross, for the sins we have committed He proclaimed, "It is finished."  That is, He bore the full punishment of our sins and the trade of His life for ours was complete.

 

You may have read about Vera previously in our weblog.  She is doing a fundraiser and has asked that we post the information on our site for anyone that may want to participate.  Here is a link to the info on her 50/50 Raffle.

Here are some short stories we received last month:

My name is Rita. In Dec. 2000. I did my yearly mammogram. This time they found 2 lumps in the left breast. What next? I had a radical mastectomy, including all nodes. The Doctors took my husband aside and said that I had just 3 months to live if I was lucky. (My mom died from breast cancer just 3 months after she found out.) Well here I am 5 and a half years later and still alive. I have been going through chemotherapy every 6 months, radiation every 3 months. Now they found a new cancer in the right lung not anything to do with the breast cancer. The lung cancer has spread into the back bones. But you know what. I thank GOD and my family for sticking by my side through all of this mess. I do have one thing to say. It's a good thing that the doctors never told me I only had 3 months to live. I continually pray that GOD has better things for me to do in life. Thank you for listening to my story.

Rita

 

This is not my story, but rather one of two very strong women and the man who has supported them.  My mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer at the young age of 30.  She fought hard for 7 years before she finally lost the battle in 1985.  Her son (my brother) was 16 years old.  He has never been the same since.  Before she passed, I asked her why she endured all of this hardship - the pain, the chemo, the testing, etc.  She told me that she just wanted to see "her baby" - me - grow up. At the time, I was 12.  She told me that I had grown up so much and it was time.  It was then that I knew.  It would only be a matter of time before she was called by God.  I was OK, though. I knew that of all the memories I had of her, she was always funny and happy - despite the battle.  She passed away on Oct 25, 1985.  She was 37.  I was 12. My brother was 16. My father was devastated. 
Twenty years later, my father's wife, Susan was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. A lump was discovered in her breast just around Christmas time.  After the holiday, it was removed. She is currently in radiation - which cannot be easy on either one of them - and should be done by March 14th.
 
I can't imagine what either of them are feeling right now.  It is amazing how cancer has struck twice to the same family - with no relation involved.  I guess it just goes to show how important it is that we get research funded and find a cure!
I have been walking in marathons and doing other fundraising activities for years now.  The recent events with my stepmother encourage me to walk more - faster, harder...and fight the biggest fight I can!
-Cynthia

 

My daughter, Catherine, was diagnosed with breast cancer this past January.  I am telling her story so others may know that breast cancer does not affect just older woman.  On August 23, 2005 my daughter gave birth prematurely to her first child, a son, Matthew.  Because of arriving early and health issues he was in PICU (pediatric intensive care) for 7 weeks.  

With much delight they were finally able to take him home and enjoy the miracle of his birth.  Two weeks later he did not look well and they took him back to the hospital.  He had a hole in his heart and surgery was performed.  The doctors discovered he had a congenital lung defect and he died on November 6th.  Our hearts were broken and I don't know how the parents managed to survive through his funeral and the many days that followed.  

Shortly after she found a lump in her breast and she went to her OBGYN and she told her it was a milk cyst and not to worry.  She returned again and was told she did not need a mammogram and again that it was not a problem.  She finally went to a different doctor in January and insisted that he refer her for a mammogram.  Even he insisted it was nothing!  Thank God she listened to her body and what it was saying.  

She was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma and a very aggresive form of cancer.  After recent surgery and removal of two lymph nodes she will have have chemo and other treatments starting this month.  Catherine just celebrated her 31st birthday on March 1st.  Tell your readers not to wait and to INSIST on mammograms if they feel there is a concern!  If Catherine had waited even a short time this cancer would definitely have become  invasive and the outcome would not look good.  With God's help and the correct drugs this cancer will be beat and she will have many wonderful years ahead. God bless you for all the work you do!  

Mary

 

I lost my maternal grandmother to breast cancer almost 8 years ago and I still miss her terribly. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994 she was 64 years old. When she discovered the lump it was already golf ball sized. She had numerous chemotherapy and radiation treatments and eventually a bilateral mastectomy. 

The chemotherapy made her weak and she lost her hair. The radiation irritated her skin and left her sore but she continued to survive and go for her treatments. She told my mother one time right before she died that she does not regret any of the treatment choices she made even though they made her feel worse at times because she hoped one day that all of the testing and treatments would produce a cure so her children, grandchildren, and on down the family line would not suffer. 

She died 4 years after she was diagnosed with my mother and grandfather at her bedside. She would have been 68 a month later. A few years ago her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and died 6 months after diagnosis. My grandmother was and always will be a hero to me. She was so brave and courageous. My mother, sister and I participate in the walks and donate money in hopes of a cure, but for now early detection and hope and support is all we've got! I honor my grandmother's memory and often think about her courage. Thank you for letting me share my story.

Nichol

 

March 20, 2006

We have great news from our friend Eveline.  She had a recent recurrence of breast cancer and has been taking chemo treatments.  Her doctor has told her that her cancer is currently in remission.  She will continue with her chemo and then radiation.  We have an e-mail from Eveline posted here in December.  Eveline and her husband always appear upbeat and positive.  It is no doubt that their faith has carried them through and they have become great witnesses to the strength of God's Holy Spirit in their lives.  Above all, Eveline has eternal life and you can see she knows it.

Sorry it has been so long since we have posted here.  We have signed a lease on a new and bigger shop.  We will be moving into our new shop over the next two weeks.  We hope to eventually fill it to the rafters with new and unique pink ribbon items!

On a personal note, we have also been house hunting during all our spare time.  We have been leaving our shop in the capable hands of our two employees while we meet with our real estate agent to look at houses.  We have also been bike riding our city looking at houses and we have taken hundreds of virtual tours on the internet.  We made one offer that wasn't excepted.  We have now made another offer on a different house.  It's currently owned by Fannie Mae so the paperwork will take longer.  If our offer is accepted we will be moving in April.

When we came to Houston last May we decided to rent a house to give us time to find what we like.  We have a one year lease that ends in May so we didn't start looking until February.  We thought we would have the whole summer to look.  We are good tenants and thought our landlord would be happy to get a few extra months rent out of us.  We were wrong.  He told us he wants to move in when our lease is up.  So long story short, we've been scrambling.  Within a year we will be moving both our household and our business twice.

Over the last two weeks we've received quite a few e-mails and survivor stories that we would like to post.  We will try to start getting them on our site.  

Here are two e-mails from Jessica:

I just wanted to thank you for your site.  Today I just sat reading and crying and yet being encouraged by your faith, and the scripture posted.  I lost my mother Debbie, this past July 8th, and still miss her so terribly.  I just turned 30 and feel too young to have lost my mother, along with my son, who was only 4 when he lost his grandma.  I look at my father and my heart aches for him.  We are comforted by God’s peace and would not be where we are without His strength. He has been AWESOME!  

My mother battled breast cancer for 8 years!  She had a lumpectomy, mastectomy, reconstruction, and then another mastectomy while having to have the implant from the reconstruction removed.  Her cancer moved into the bones and wouldn’t leave.  She fought long and hard, trying every possible alternative out there, traveling all over the mid-west and to Canada for the latest treatments.  

It was the 7th year and her 8th recurrence that proved to be the toughest fight.  We watched the cancer ravage her and slowly, painfully rob her of her strength – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  What she suffered I pray no woman has to endure!  For a year and a half we begged and pleaded with Jesus for her life, as did she.  On July 8th, two days before her 54th birthday He took her home.  Praise God she is dancing in heaven!  It is still difficult, and always will be.  

My mother didn’t die in vain though, what Jesus has shown my father, my brother and I is incredible.  I just want to shout “how great God is!”  The most awesome comfort to us is how many lives my mother touched.  She was a teacher and therapist for students with learning disabilities.  She also had such a passion for helping women get set free spiritually!  Her passion for Jesus touched so many lives and we see it living on through those she has touched.  People are always coming up to me sharing stories of how God worked in their lives through my mother. 

Needless to say I cry a lot, but what an awesome legacy.  I have so much to live up to, but what a great example I had.  I thank God every day for the time He gave me with my mother.  My mom went to be with Jesus on July 8th.  For what it’s worth, the number 8 or the figure 8 was drawn by her students continually in her one-on-one LD therapy to help strengthen their learning deficits. She learned that number was also important for her students because number 8 means “new beginning” or “new Life” which in a sense they were going to experience through the therapy.  My mother experienced a new beginning on the 8th as well, also her 8th year in her battle with breast cancer.  

It is amazing how God works.  Just seconds before she left us, my dad was reading a quote from Oswald Chamber someone had sent him in an e-mail, “Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands and step into the invincible future with Him.”  I want to encourage those out there to share your stories, no matter how difficult.  We need each other to lean on and to build up!  You never know how God may use you words or story, nothing is too insignificant for Him to use.  We just have to be His vessels!  

Ladies keep pursuing Him!  HE IS LIFE!  I want to share a quote my mother and I took on as our motto the last 4 years of her life, “DANCE…as though no one is watching, LOVE… as though you have never been hurt before, SING… as though no one can hear you, LIVE… as though heaven is on earth.” – unknown             

                                    Jessica

Jessica

Thank you so much for sharing your mom's story.  You and your family have been through so much.  It's good to hear that you've been able to find comfort in the Lord, and also in hearing from people whose lives were touched by your mother.

And thank you for your kind words about our site.  With our site and weblog, we just felt that we had this opportunity to reach people and hopefully make a difference.  It was our hope that if our experience could touch even just one person in a positive way, it's worth getting it out there.  That if others' experiences with breast cancer could help one other person, it's worth posting.

Kim,

Thank you for your response.  I have to tell you God was working Tuesday when I was on your blog site.  I told you how healing it was for me to just open myself up and let my heart pour out.  I could feel God’s arms wrapped around me, just holding me.  The next day was the 8th month to the day of my mother’s death, and the coincidence is that my best friend’s mother passed away that evening, from breast cancer.  God was getting me ready for that moment.  

My mother and my friend’s mother, their battles were so similar.  Everything my mother would go through, her mother would go through the next year.  Her mother, Millie, battled for a long, hard 6 years.  I commend our mother’s and all other women who fight this awful disease, they are my heroes!  

It’s so neat how God intertwines our pasts and our futures with others.  I didn’t meet my friend Lucy until I was in my early 20’s, or so I thought.  One day when reminiscing with childhood friends about a church camp we all went to (which didn’t seem possible), my friend Lucy tried to convince me she was also there.  I was sure she hadn’t been until I dug out an old picture, and there she was, sitting next to me, in our camp picture.  

How God works, and his plans, I cannot even fathom.  He didn’t bring us back together for 12 more years, and we thought we were meeting for the first time.  He knew we would need each other later in our lives, while caring for our mother’s.  Wow!  I’m glad He supplies our every need, especially those we don’t know we have.  Thank you Kim, I would love to keep praying for you and your family!  I pray God blesses your ministry ten fold.

                                                                    

                                                              Sincerely,

                                                                             Jessica

Thanks Jessica, because we are human and subject to discouragement, your encouraging words will help keep us going, but it is your prayers for this part of our site that will really have an effect.  We always try to pray over what is posted here.  We pray that God will use it to reach and inspire people to come to Him and find Him to be sufficient in their lives.

But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.  John 4:14

If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.  John 7:37

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.  Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  1 Thessalonians 5:9-11

 

March 7, 2006

Here is a link to our latest e-mail:  18 New Products at the Pink Ribbon Shop!

March 6, 2006

We've been busy working on new products.  We will have some ready for our site in a day or two.  Below are two e-mails we've received.  We struggled to add a comment to Robin's story but Robin does a good job of covering it and it speaks for itself.

We've also added a survivor story from Alyson she is currently battling inflammatory breast cancer.

An e-mail from Robin:

Two years ago I lost my mother to breast cancer. Although she participated in the walks with her sister in upstate NY every year, and donated religiously to cancer charities, she didn't do what was MOST IMPORTANT!  She went 11 years without having any type of breast exam. By the time she realized she had a lump, it was too late.  

After a double Mastectomy and harsh Chemotherapy she passed away from a brain tumor. Only seven months elapsed between her finding the lump and passing away. Seven difficult months, all for naught! I love that people contribute money and walk and spread the word and wear their pink ribbons, but remember, all of that means NOTHING if you don't take care of yourself. Please, remember that all of your generous contributions are appreciated, but early detection is key!!! Take care of yourself and the other women you care about!

After my mother passed a number of my friends asked me where to send donations in her name. I told them that my mother would rather you make an appointment for a breast exam...they ALL did...and they donated money, too.

~Robin

Thanks Robin.  Your mother's story is a very important one for everyone to hear.

Here is another e-mail from Lorraine:

I want to tell you about my sister-in-law, she went to get one breast removed and when they were getting her ready for surgery they took another look at her other breast, and they saw something else, they went and took her one breast and continued to look at her other breast and discovered she would have to have the other one removed also, she is only 40 years old and my heart goes out to her, she is now getting her last chemo treatment, and I hope everything is fine, only God can tell, my prayers are with her and everyone else.

Thanks Lorraine.  We hope your sister-in-law remains cancer free and gets through her last chemo treatment in good spirits.

 

Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

February 28, 2006

We've posted two new survivor stories.  Dana story, a granddaughter of a breast cancer survivor, could be entitled, "How I saved my Grandmother's Life" and Michelle's story reminds us it's always a good idea to seek a second opinion.  Thanks to her proactive self care she is around to see her new granddaughter grow up.

We also received an e-mail from Jessica:

After losing my mother to cancer when I was 14, I struggled with life after her death. I didn't really know what to do to make myself feel better dealing with the grief. Finally, my senior year of college I realized something that would heal my heart and hopefully heal others as well. I started a Breast Cancer Walk at my college in memory of my mother! Our first year we raised $6,000 for breast cancer research! This is our second year and we have bigger and better plans and higher hope. By helping others become aware of this cause, I've been able to grieve and to cope with my own loss. If I have been able to instill hope in someone's life because of our donation, then it was well worth it! Yes, we only raised $6,000, but every dollar counts!

Jessica

Here is a link to this year's walk:  http://reinhardt.edu/students/walkcancer/breastcancer.htm

Jessica, what a life you must have had losing your mother at 14.  We hope our children never have to face that.  You know there are many other young children that lose there mothers to cancer everyday that could probably use the support of someone who has been there.  I bet you'd be a great asset at your local American Cancer Society if counseling or mentoring is your thing.  It would probably also help you deal with your grief a little more.

Also, $6,000 sounds like a very successful fundraiser.  We donate to an organization that provides seed money to Universities to try new theories in cancer research.  A $6,000 donation can go along way in that respect.  The seed money is used to show some preliminary lab results which can then be brought to the big corporate donors that will then fund a more comprehensive study.

Good luck on your second annual Breast Cancer Walk!  We hope it is bigger and better.

 

February 27, 2006

Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Seen in the perspective of eternity, the Christian's difficulties, whatever they may be, diminish in importance.  By comparison, the eternal glory is far greater than all the suffering one may face in this life.  

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  Romans 8:18

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:18

The experiences and circumstances of this present life, often painful and perplexing, are what is visible to the Christian; but these are merely phenomena in the passing parade of our fallen age and are therefore temporary and fleeting.  To fix our eyes on these visible things would cause us to lose heart.  By contrast the unseen realities, which are no less real for being invisible, are eternal and imperishable.  Accordingly, we look up and away from the impermanent appearances of this present world scene.

But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.  Philippians 4:20-21

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorned its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:2-3

Just as a runner concentrates on the finish line, we should concentrate on Jesus, the goal and objective of our faith.  Our faith, which has its beginning in him, is also completed in him; he is both the start and the end of the race.  He is also the supreme witness who has already run the race and overcome.  He accomplished our eternal redemption and his glorification at the Father's "right hand."

He suffered infinitely more than any of his disciples are asked to suffer--a great encouragement for us when we are weary and tempted to become discouraged.

 

February 21, 2006

We have four new breast cancer survivor stories posted.  We also have an e-mail from Hayley:

I was 19 years old when I found my mum had breast cancer at 45 years old, she had found a lump in her breast but kept it secret in the hope it would go away.  Finally she got it seen too and that is when they told her it was breast cancer and that she would need surgery.
 
After a while my mum broke the news to me I felt like the world had come crashing down.  You never think that it can happen to a loved one but it does. My mum went into surgery and had the lump removed and her lymph glands to prevent spreading.

After, it was followed by 7 weeks of radiotherapy, my mum is coming up to her 5 years now and every time she goes for her checkups I pray to God that the news is good.

I hope I can give other breast cancer survivors out there hope to keep fighting it and don't let it beat you!

Hayley it is so good that your mother got medical treatment in time.  Your story sounds familiar to Tammy's e-mail posted here on February 13th.  Unfortunately for her family her mother-in-law kept her secret too long.  

How devastating the news must have been to you at 19.  Remember you are now at a much higher risk of getting breast cancer yourself.  Stay diligent, talk to your OB and get checked earlier.  You may even want to accompany your mother on one of her oncology visits and talk to the oncologist about yourself.  I'm sure your mother would love the company and support.

We know the checkups can be very stressful.  Continue to pray for your mother and remember you need God's help too.

Thanks again for your e-mail.  I'm starting to think we are talking to someone here that needs to see a doctor and is putting it off for some reason.  Get help, your family needs you and wants you.  Your life is worth living.


February 16, 2006

Here is a sad story we received some time ago from Amy.  It was on our old site and we decided to post it here instead of in the survivor stories section.  To us, it's content has a better fit here.

My grandmother died of breast cancer, I survived. We all did, even when we didn't think we would. It came on suddenly, we soon found ourselves taking shifts at the clinic in Rochester so she would never have to be alone, and though the hours were long, we were relieved when it was our turn to sit with her. She liked it quiet. I would sit and hold the hand that took me on walks as a child, taught me to carve animals out of soap, and helped me apply craft glue to the t-shirts we made together. Quietly I cried, and quietly I prayed. 

God chose to take my grandmother at the young age of 58. Who am I to question his plan, but I find myself doing it often. Sitting by her bed I wished there was something I could do. Now I realize there is. Something every survivor can do, help others realize that breast cancer can happen to anybody, and maybe that somebody is you. Check well and check often, and never think you are immune.

February 15, 2006

Hope you all had a nice Valentine's day.  We have a new story from Bobbi.  We found her wit and candor very refreshing.  We are making sure we send her her free pin.  We also heard back from Tammy after posting her story here on Monday:

I think this cancer site is wonderful.  May God bless everyone that has ever been affected, directly or indirectly.  I pray they find a cure for everyone...Thank you so much.  Reading the stories helped me understand my mother-in-law a lot better.

Thanks Tammy for taking your time here with us and we hope your mother-in-law's story will help others in her same situation.

Don't miss this week's online sermon at www.christ4u.net.  It's about slowing down and taking a break with God and bringing your troubles and worries of life to Him.

February 13, 2006

We've added our Pink Breast Cancer Band Bracelets to our Free Offer!

We have an e-mail from Tammy about her mother-in-law who died from breast cancer.  It's a sad story that we hope may motivate others to get help and not be ashamed of or ignore their breast cancer diagnosis.  Here it is:

This probably isn't the type of story that you are looking for, but here goes.  My Mother-in-law was fifty-six years old and did not receive help for her breast cancer.  She did not let anyone know.  She told us it was arthritis.  It had spread throughout her body before she let us know.  It was in her skull, bones, and lungs.  It was horrible.  The cancer ate her breast from the inside out.  The only thing that I can think to tell you what it looked like is "raw meat."  She was so infected and ate up that it would give anyone nightmares.  My husband and I moved her in with us and she did try chemo, for what reason, I don't know.  She told us on October 31 and passed away Jan. 29.  Your family cannot take the same road that my family took.  I have an 8 year old daughter that sat and watched her mamaw die a little every day.  It was a long and painful death.  The cancer in her lungs smothered her to death.  PLEASE HAVE YOURSELF CHECKED, GET A MAMMOGRAM, DO SELF EXAMS, AND LET YOUR LOVED ONES IN.  That is the worse thing, she carried it by herself for years and she did not have to!!!!

Tammy we pray for you, your husband and especially your daughter.  We hope your story will help others that may not be seeking treatment to see that their life is valued and will want to be around for their grandchildren or other friends and family members.  You provided a home with love and support for the last three months of your Mother-in-law's life.  My God bless you and your family.

We also heard back from Dana back on the 29th of January and we are just realizing that we did not post an update.  Dana says it best:

Dear Kim, 

I can't believe even someone took the time and interest to write to me. I can get so depressed that I feel invisible, almost a non-person, and so yes, I would be honored to talk to Vera. I believe strongly in prayer, as I notice when they are answered and am blessed to receive them from anyone, anytime. The simple act of responding to another human in need was the greatest gift I could have received. Like I say, I was just shocked that anyone would care about me, a stranger, and saying a few kind words. Thank you, Kim, and Danny, for your prayers, and you may tell Vera, it would be great to hear from her.  

Dana 

Thanks Dana.  You don't know how much your response means to us.  We are so glad we have the means to connect you two.  May the Lord be with you during this difficult time!

I was e-mailing someone else about what we are trying to do here and was wondering if it is working when this e-mail came in from Dana.  I don't believe in coincidences!

You can read Dana's original letter to us in our post for January 25th.  Vera had read Dana's original e-mail and asked us to contact her and let her know she would like to talk to her.  We hear that Dana and Vera have been talking.  We thank God for bringing them here and bringing them together.  God works in wonderful ways and we pray that He continues to be with us here and that He finds Himself in your life to help others in need.  

If you are here because you have or have had breast cancer or have a loved one with the disease, pray that God will use you in ways you did not know but that He had planned for you before you were born.  Jesus died for your sins and now you can stand before God pure and holy.  Ask Him to send you His Spirit to fill you and guide you as you encounter others.  You can and will make a difference in others lives. 

February 9, 2006

An e-mail from Cathy:

My name is Cathy and I am a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in November of 2004 with stage one medullary type breast cancer. It was found on a routine mammogram. I was 47 years old at the time and I have a history of breast cancer in my family, but still you never think it would happen to you. I have worked in the medical field all of my life and let me tell you, I like it much better on the caregiver side than the patient side. It has made me look at my patients in a very different way, for the good I might add. I researched all my options and choose a mastectomy with a tram flap recon. I also took four rounds of chemo. They tell me this treatment gives me a 95% chance I will never have to fight the breast cancer war again. And believe you me it is like a war. A war that CAN BE WON!

Cathy

Thanks Cathy.  It's great to hear that your prognosis for the future is so good.  Thanks for sharing your story with us.

February 7, 2006

Here is an e-mail from Grace Ambrose with the Breast Cancer Guide.  A web based breast cancer resource guide by survivors and doctors that covers symptoms, treatment, assistance and support.

Here is brief summary of what we do to help breast cancer patients and families:

We are a group of breast cancer survivors and caregivers based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In our search for information (started by lung cancer survivors), though there are good guides for breast cancer, they are either compiled by medical professionals or survivors alone, but not integrated selection that represents both side's important perspectives. As a result people can easily miss some critical information by referring to either type of guide, especially if considering most people are medical outsiders.
 
To help a breast cancer patient quickly and easily find the best breast cancer treatment and retain a better quality of life, we have uniquely organized a group of doctors, researchers, survivors and caregivers to develop this informational guide.

In this guide, we are emphasizing two aspects about breast cancer:  treatment and support. Though from our guide patients can easily find the best treatment for breast cancer currently offered by doctors, it is still difficult to find many effective treatments, either because they are new, or not available in the US. We are actively searching for a dedicated medical professional who is not only aware of where to find these treatments, but also able to evaluate them.
Hopefully we offer a hope that will save many lives of advanced stage breast cancer patients.


Best regards,
Grace Ambrose
graceja31@aol.com
Philadelphia, Pa

February 1, 2006

We have two new breast cancer survivor stories today.  One from Chuck for the guys in your life.  He tackles a lot of issues that men may have trouble dealing with after their wives, daughters, sisters or mothers are diagnosed with breast cancer.  Of course a lot of what he has to say only deals with wives, but the emotional struggles can be with any relationship.  

Guys if you love someone that has been newly diagnosed, let me tell you, you are about to go through the most gut wrenching time of your life.  If your relationship survives, it will be strengthened and you will find your wife more beautiful than ever.  I promise.

The other is from Susanne.  Wow talk about a survivor!  She has gone through so much in the last 18 years, yet she keeps going.  Our prayers are with you in your healing Susanne.

Christ the King Lutheran Church has started a new series on the ten commandments and how they relate to your life, called, "Experience God Now."  We really recommend listening to "Accept No Substitutes" on their audio page.  You can either listen there or download it to your MP3 player.  It deals with placing God first in your life and how that can help you in your day-to-day feelings of self-worth.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith --and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:8-10

January 31, 2006

We have three new breast cancer survivor stories.

An e-mail from Pamela:

Hi Kim, I wanted to say congratulations on your test results.....the good Lord has shined down upon you and I celebrate these moments along side you. Am too going through similar situation and am learning from your treatments in what questions to ask...
 
God Bless You!!!
 
Pamela

Thanks Pamela!

January 30, 2006

For it is by grace you have been saved, (a major passage for understanding God's grace, i.e., his kindness, unmerited favor and forgiving love.  "Saved" has a wide range of meanings.  It includes salvation from God's wrath, which we all had incurred by original sin and our own sins.  The tense of the verb suggests a completed action with emphasis on its present effect) through faith (establishes the necessity of faith in Christ as the only way of being made right with God.)--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (no human effort can contribute to our salvation: it is the gift of God)--not by works, (one cannot earn salvation by "observing the law."  Such a legalistic approach to salvation is consistently condemned in Scripture) so that no one can boast (no one can take credit for his or her salvation).  For we are God's workmanship, (a "work of art") created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (we are part of God's purpose and planning).  Ephesians 2:8-10

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God (not merely a subjective feeling -- peace of mind -- but primarily an objective status, a new relationship with God:  Once we were his enemies, but now we are his friends) through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access (Jesus ushers us into the presence of God.  The heavy curtain of the temple that separated man from God and God from man has been removed) by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (the Christian's confidence that the purpose for which God created him will be ultimately realized).

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, (not "because of" but "in."  This does not advocate a morbid view of life but a joyous and triumphant one) because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (A Christian can rejoice in suffering because he knows that it is not meaningless.  Part of God's purpose is to produce character in his children).  

And hope does not disappoint us, (the believer's hope is not to be equated with unfounded optimism.  On the contrary, it is the blessed assurance of our future destiny and is based on God's love, which is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit and objectively demonstrated to us in the death of Christ.  We move from faith to hope to love.) because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Through the Holy Spirit God has poured out his love in our hearts, and his love for us continues to dwell in us).  Romans 5:1-5

Commentary in parentheses from the Concordia Self-Study Bible NIV

 

January 28, 2006

We've added two new breast cancer survivor stories.  Both involve misdiagnosis and trouble encountered while seeking treatment.  Laura's story covers a number of years and runs the gamut of treatments and complications.  Roberta's story shows how her persistence probably saved her life.  It was written while she was in the middle of her treatments.  Both highlight the need to be your own advocate and to not rely on one doctors diagnosis.


Vera writes:

Kim & Danny,

Just wanted to let you know that I read the updates on the weblog !!  Great news!! We have been praying. Thought I would send you a couple pictures of me & my parents I just took them today at our local sportsmens club. 

I love your website and just ordered my boys the pink t shirts!! They have been into a pink kick lately. This past week was spirit week at our school and Tuesday was "pink day" (my niece Ashley got to designate a day and she chose pink day in honor of breast cancer awareness) so I have also sent a picture of my boys Nick is 10 and Connor 7 , dressed in pink in honor of their grandma ... I hope you enjoy !! 

I did get a chance to read the story from Dana. I hope she finds faith with the help of your website and words of encouragement. As a supporter I see how she feels . My mother struggles everyday with her emotions and is really not doing to good mentally. It is no secret, cancer sucks ! I am glad you posted her email. Because we do need to see those sides of it as well. 

This has really taken something from my mother that I don't think we will ever get back. Hopefully with the help of continued support from family and friends , Dana will find the faith to fight this and take each day as it comes. Let her know I am in her corner and praying for her everyday. Even though we are strangers I would love to email her.( but I do understand the privacy policy )!! So if you could just pass on my words to her I would appreciate it. If you would like you can give her my email , if she wants to talk I am definately here for her. Maybe some advice from a supporter would help, I am willing to try !! 

I have to get to bed , I was just diagnosed with mono and they say it could last up to 6 months... So I am dragging butt !! (by the way I love, and laughed at the text messaging part in your blog !! How fun) !! I don't know you two at all but I see how strong your marriage is and I love it!! You guys are great and have really brought something special into my life. So I do have faith and believe that everything happens for a reason , I am honored to know special people like you two!!

Thinking of you and your family and I hope you know what your website has done for me !!

God Bless,

Vera 

 

Vera 

Thanks for your great e-mail and pictures. You don't know how good it makes us feel that we might be able to help people through our site. We've forwarded your e-mail to Dana with this note:

"Dana

We received this e-mail this morning from Vera. She read your letter and would like to talk to you if you are willing. We have not given her your e-mail or last name. We just thought we would pass this on to you.

Our prayers are still with you.

Kim & Danny"

Wouldn't it be great if you could help her. Kim and I have something that not every marriage has, every year or two we are faced with her possible death. With that in mind, you can't help loving the people you are with. Every moment spent mad or angry at each other is just such a waste of time that might be limited.

We still have our fights and disagreements but I try to make up as soon as we can. If I ever have to go to bed alone because she is not here anymore, I'd never forgive myself for those wasted times.

I hope your kids like their shirts. We will ship them out Monday.

Thanks
Danny


January 27, 2006

The PET scan detected no cancer.  We can't believe it.  It's as if we are waiting to hear a big "but."  It's taking some time to sink in.  What was or is in Kim's femur that showed up on the other tests?  What was the last month all about?  It has strengthened our marriage.  It has renewed our empathy for others suffering from cancer.  It has brought us closer to God.  It has renewed our faith.  It has kept us awake at night.  It has caused us to rethink our plans for the future so that we get as much out of it as we can.  It has showed us who really cares about us and there were no disappointments.

Half the stories in our breast cancer survivor story section are about misdiagnosis.  It seems quite common to be told that the tests show nothing only to find later you have cancer.  What do you do about that?  Stay vigilant?  Demand more tests?  

Once again we will be scouring the internet looking for the latest research on breast cancer and reading about bone metastasis, bone scans with increased uptake, tietze syndrome and the accuracy of PET scans.  All until we just get overloaded and walk away from the computer feeling like we know less than when we started.

Maybe we should see an orthopedist. 


January 26, 2006

We get the results of the PET scan tomorrow.  It feels as if we are closing a chapter of our lives tonight.

January 25, 2006

We've added two short but informative breast cancer survivor stories.  At 42 Gail had a cyst and went for a mammogram.  What she found saved her life.  Cathy was treated at M.D. Anderson for inflammatory carcinoma and is living to write about it 12 years later.

On Monday we received an e-mail that we weren't sure if we should put on our site.  However, we have decided to show all sides of breast cancer and how painful it can be and to give Dana a voice.

The following is from Dana:

I am writing this to purge my demons, to expel my anger, and to ease my emotional pain. I am a 45 year old married woman with a thirteen year old son. I found my breast cancer in Oct. 2003, and underwent lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. I had a strong family history of breast cancer, and even though at first my oncologist didn't think I should get the genetic testing, I persisted , and after finally being tested, was notified that I had a positive BRCA2 result, which meant I would probably have a recurrence.

To me it felt like I was a cancer making machine. I had the recommended procedures: double radical mastectomy, hysterectomy with cervix and ovaries removed as well.  I was not a candidate for breast reconstruction because of the radiation damage to my skin. I can't say that I am taking this all very well. I read stories of all these wonderful, brave, women who have all these positive things to say, and it makes me feel even more isolated. I feel mutilated, unloved and alone. I don't want my husband to touch me. Sometimes I wish the doctors would have just given me a shot to put me to sleep like a dog it would be better for my family.


Kim's reply to Dana:

Dana
 
Thank you for sharing your story.  I really feel for you.  I was 32 when I was diagnosed 6 years ago, and I had a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, and reconstruction (I now wish I had had a double mastectomy).  Please, talk to a doctor about your emotional well-being.  You have been through so much, and it's upsetting, I know from personal experience.  But you don't have to feel like you are alone in this.  You can make it through, and you will, but perhaps you need to talk to other women who've been through some of the same things.  I know a lot of women, survivors sound wonderful and brave, but the truth is it's a physically and emotionally wrenching experience that can leave you feeling unwhole, almost like a different person.  

For me, the only time I cried after my mastectomy was during intimate moments with my husband. Outside I was as positive and cheery as I could be.  My life had to go on.  But you do face reality when you look in the mirror, and it's difficult.  You can get past that!  You are still you on the inside.  You have a son and husband who need you, a family who loves you.

 
I recommend Y-Me.  If you've never heard of them, they're an organization that has volunteers who can counsel or just talk on the phone to breast cancer patients in need.  They've all been through it, and are there to help.  I encourage you to look them up.
 
If you'd like to talk any more, I'd be glad to talk to you, or even correspond via email.  My prayers are with you.
 
Kim

Kim's husband Danny is sometimes a wreck but we have to always pull through.  Life is always worth living. 


January 19, 2006

Here is what we know:

MRI examination demonstrates an abnormal signal in the proximal third midshaft of the femur.  This abnormal signal corresponds to the bone scan findings.  Again, concern for a metastatic lesion is raised.  There is no soft tissue abnormality.

Basically nothing more than what we already learned Monday.  Kim's bloodwork showed no markers for cancer.  All other tests were negative.  The oncologist has now ordered a full body PET scan for next Thursday with a follow-up visit Friday.  However it's 4 p.m. and the hospital has not called the oncologist back yet to schedule the tests.  How can that take all day?

More waiting.

We did learn that the pain in Kim's sternum is probably something called tietze syndrome or costochondritis.  This is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects the inner end of each rib with the breastbone.  It usually goes away with no treatment.

Our friend Eveline wrote to say that after only her first chemo treatment her doctor thinks there has been such a reduction in the lump in her breast that it's probably just scar tissue left.


From Kim:

Oh the waiting!  And the emotional roller coaster we've been on during the last few weeks has been tough.  After the bone scan tech informed us that "he (he meaning the radiologist, I suppose) said everything looks fine, it didn't go to the bones", I have to say, we had a pretty good weekend.  We were relieved to get some good news.  

Then the shocking phone call the following Monday from the oncologist's office -- your bone scan showed an abnormality on your left femur (!) and we're sending you for an MRI.  I was like, wait, the femur?  I'm not having any trouble with my leg, are you sure?  Yes they were sure.  

So 3 days later I'm having the MRI, thinking that this would provide some kind of answers.  The next day, at the doctor's office, we get the MRI report:  yes there's something there, and they're concerned it might be a metastatic lesion.  Well, duh, we knew that after the bone scan.  Somebody tell me, is it or isn't it??  A PET scan is recommended, but that's only done on Thursdays, so we have to wait ANOTHER week!  Don't they know that this is my LIFE?  

Doctors forget ... they see this every day and it's just not that urgent to them, just not that important that weeks have gone by, and I still don't know if I have metastatic cancer or not.  I'm hoping that not all doctors are as hurried as mine was today.  We had to wait over an hour before seeing him, and when he walked in, he did not remember anything about me or my case.  I've had many tests in the past few weeks that I've not received results of.  Once I mentioned them, he found that he didn't even have some of those results yet.  And let's not forget that when I called to speak to him about wanting a bone scan to evaluate the pain in my sternum (a point which I forgot to mention at our initial meeting, which was for a palpable lump in my breast), it took 3-4 days for his office (not him) to get back to me and schedule it, which was then another week.  

I feel like I am managing my own care, and thank goodness I am capable of that.  It's obvious that I need to find a new doctor.  I thought that this doctor being "affiliated" with MD Anderson was a good thing, and also that he was conveniently located near our home and work.  But, being that MD Anderson is just a 30 minute drive from us, I have come to the conclusion that I should go there for my care.  Not looking forward to having to gather all of my records, again!  (I must mention that this is a new doctor for me -- we recently moved to Texas from New Orleans, so all of my records from my initial breast cancer diagnosis and treatment from 2000 had to be obtained from Louisiana.)  But it looks like it has to be done!


January 18, 2006

I hate hospitals.  I hate the waiting rooms.  I hate the polished tile floors and the virus laden carpets and furniture.  I hate the cafeterias.  I hate the smells.  Most of all, I hate why we are there.  We've spent too much time in hospitals.  We add this morning to our long lists of visits. 

Just another day being shuffled from one room to the next.  Then we are separated and wait longer.  I sit in rooms full of fearful guys reading books we all brought. Yet we are not able to concentrate on anything we are reading.  Our heads bob up and down as people continually enter and exit.  We occasionally shuffle one way or the other to make more room. We are all hopeful, we are all scared and we all would rather be somewhere else. 

Only the older guys care to talk.  I guess they've learned more in life that us younger guys.  Or maybe they have been in hospitals so long they feel more comfortable.  I've got one up on them now.  Kim and I have discovered text messaging.  As soon as we are separated we can still keep in touch.  It seems sometimes we have more to say once the texting begins.

Me: What ya doin.

Kim: Waitn fr bn dnsity tst

Me: k

Kim: I wnt 2 go 2 disneyworld.

Me:  ur crazy - with what $

Kim:  we can do it

Me:  Not unless I can bring bike.

Kim:  my butt.

Me:  I like your butt.

Kim:  gotta go

Me: I luv you.

If your phone can do it, you've got to try it.  It makes the waiting room so much more enjoyable.  Whoever you talk to doesn't even have to be there.  Next time I can't go with Kim, I'll still be able to keep her company in the waiting room.  I hope I can make her laugh out loud in front of everyone.

January 17, 2006

We finally had time to add our free pink ribbon pin offer back to our site.  If you submit your breast cancer survivor story, and we post it, we will send you a pin of your choice from our product line.  See: FREE Pink Ribbon Pin Offer for more details.  We've also extended this offer to those that would like to contribute to this blog.

Here is a link that came to our attention today from one of our customers:  CNS News.  It claims that the Susan G. Komen foundation gives money to Planned Parenthood.  While this news story is over a year old, we had not heard about this before.  It's troubling to us because we have been supporters of Komen and in fact, in the past, the money we raised here was sent to them.


January 16, 2006

We weren't planning on writing here today but we just got a phone call from the oncologist.  They would like Kim to have an MRI of her femur where the bone scan showed an "increased uptake."  This is where the injected radioactive material was absorbed more than it should have.  Cancer cells will pull-in more of the radioactive glucose than regular bone cells.  We've done some quick reading and found there are things other than cancer that can cause this, such as osteoporosis and arthritis.  Kim had at one time been diagnosed with borderline osteoporosis.  Of course we are hoping that that is all it is. 

We found one website that does a good job describing  secondary bone cancer for breast cancer patients. It's also a very informative site for returning cancer in other parts of your body. 

What a shock this is for us.  We have truly been on an emotional roller coaster.  Kim's MRI is scheduled for Wednesday morning at 8:00 a.m.  After being told that the bone scan looked good last Thursday, we won't be comfortable until we talk to the oncologist again this Thursday no matter what they say Wednesday.

You know, it is as if Kim just knows something is wrong.  It's a good thing she kept bugging her doctor for the bone scan.  I pray it's all a waste of time.

January 12, 2006

Kim has had her bone scan today.  The doctor at the hospital said it all looks good.  The only thing left to get is the results of her bloodwork, which we won't have until next Thursday.  Now she just has a "mystery" pain in her sternum.  It sometimes wakes her up at night.

It's the beginning of the year so we had to pay our $1,000 deductible.  We would pay 100 times that to keep her with us.  

Below is an article written in our church's youth newsletter.  It came to us right at the time the new lump in Kim's breast appeared.  We have tried to find the author to give proper credit but have had no luck.  If anyone knows the author, please let us know.

Living Within the Mystery of God

Christine was the wife of one of my dearest friends, Bob.  When Bob called me with the news that Christine had cancer I couldn't believe it (she is 5 years younger than Bob or me).  I remember praying with him over the phone--it was one of those courageous and bold prayers that God would get the glory through the miraculous healing of Chris.  Less than two weeks later Christine was resting in God's arms. 

At the funeral, over 1300 people came to pay their respects.  Chris was a beloved teacher and coach at a Lutheran High School in Michigan.  Student after student testified about how she had touched their lives with her faith and passion for Christ.  Chris was one of the truly good people. As I looked at Bob struggling to keep from breaking down, as I watched his daughters Afton and Lacey trying to be strong, I admit I said to myself, "God, I don't understand, why do you take the good and leave the wicked?"

All of us struggle when things don't go the way we believe they should.  The prophet Habakkuk cries out:  "How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?" Hab 1:2  So what's going on when God doesn't "come through" for the faithful?  Often, we begin to believe one or more of the following:

a. God doesn't really hear.
b. God doesn't really care.
c. God's silence is due to something I've done or haven't done.
d. God doesn't have the power.

Of course all these ideas are contrary to the Bible.  God always hears, always cares, no matter what we've done or haven't done.  God is the all powerful God of the universe as the psalmist writes:  "The Lord does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths." Psalm 135:6

So if God hears our prayers--loves us with an everlasting love--and has all power to bless His people despite all the sin in the world--WHY DOESN'T HE?  For me the answer to this age old question came at Glorybound last week when Doug told a simple story of how his two-year-old son cried to him when he was taken to be given an immunization shot.  A two-year-old cannot understand the idea of immunizations and cries to his father to spare him the pain.  He doesn't understand that this pain is for a reason that he cannot begin to understand.

What if our God was big enough that we could understand all his ways and choices?  What kind of God would He be?  Who could have predicted that the King of the Universe would come as the son of a carpenter, born in a stable?  Who would believe that the redemption of man would be accomplished by that Christmas child being brutally executed at the hands of the religious leaders of His day?  In the book of Job, we find these words:  "Can you fathom the mysteries of God?  Can you probe the limits of the almighty?Job 11:7

We have an indescribable God with unlimited creativity, wisdom, power, and majesty.  When we learn to trust in his love, celebrate his power, and learn to live within his plan, EVEN WHEN WE FAIL TO UNDERSTAND IT, we have begun a life living within the MYSTERY of God.

Please keep Bob, Lacey and Afton in your prayers.  They are learning to trust God in a whole new way.  Pray the Prince of Peace would bring peace to all those believers who are experiencing trail, difficulty, or persecution as they live their lives in the mystery of God.

 

January 9, 2006

We got some very upsetting news yesterday.  While in church, our pastor prayed for those with cancer and we heard our friend Eveline's name.  We both nearly broke down.  We had recently run into Eveline and her husband at a local restaurant.  They had just come back from her oncologist and did not have any results from her recent tests.  They both appeared very optimistic and confident that everything would be O.K.

We went straight to her after service and got the news.  She has a cancerous lump in her breast.  Her hair is only about 1/4 inch and she has to go back on chemo.  They said they were actually relieved that the cancer was only found in her breast this time.  Her cancer had originally spread to her lungs and the mets were too numerous to count.  Because of this she didn't have surgery or radiation.  This time she will also have radiation.

Eveline remains very optimistic and is ready for her next treatments.  Our sermon Sunday was about how short life here on earth is and if we have no hope for our eternal life because of our sins, circumstances in this life can seem overwhelming.  If we remember that Jesus took the burden of our sins and gave us eternal life, it can help us get through troubled times.  Eveline and her husband said they found the sermon very well-timed.

Please pray for Eveline and her family.  

They all joined together constantly in prayer... Acts 1:14

We've posted two new breast cancer survivor stories.  Donna's story begins with her scheduling a mammogram and the news gets worse as the day wears on.  She has a lot of very useful and practical tips for anyone facing chemotherapy.

Nancy's story is yet another story of missed diagnosis and doctors unwilling to order additional tests.  Again, you've got to be your own advocate.  You can't rely on your medical providers to care for your life as much as you do.  I bet most value life tremendously, but some appear to be to concerned about money and insurance company dictates.

Kim has finally gotten the go ahead to have a bone scan this Thursday.  Her oncologist appointment has now been rescheduled for the following Thursday.  Hopefully we will then finally get the results from all her other tests.

For friends and family reading -- thanks again for all your prayers.  We will keep you posted.


January 6, 2006

Kim had her tests today.  We went to a "Comprehensive Breast Center" in Houston called TOPS.  Its radiologist are from Rose Imaging Specialist, P.A.  They had an approach that was unique to us.  Their radiologists specialize in only breast radiology and they perform the ultrasounds themselves.  

Kim's ultrasound was done by Dr. Debra L. Butler.  She was able to discuss the ultrasound with us as she looked at everything.  This is so much nicer than having a tech that can't really discuss anything with you then having to wait for the radiologist to look at the results and then send them back to your oncologist before anyone can talk to you.  We thought we wouldn't know anything until next Thursday.

Based on Kim's mammogram and ultrasound, Dr Butler was very confident that the lump in Kim's breast is just what is called fat necrosis.  She also checked Kim's chest wall and other breast and said everything looks great.

We are still awaiting the results of Kim's chest x-ray and she is still trying to get  a bone scan to try and find out what the pain is in her sternum.

As for the praying that was done for Kim, we thank you all!  We will never know if the lump was cancerous and God answered our prayers.  We believe it very well could have been malignant and was changed at some point.  We also know that something is wrong with Kim's sternum and she is not out of the woods yet.  We have one hurdle cleared and are moving on to the next.

We do know that that one little fluid filled lump has had a big impact on us and has changed the look of our site forever.  We now, after six years, can start to grasp the devastation one must feel to have cancer come back!  It's a hardship we do not want to ever face.  We will continue to pray for everyone that visits these pages in hopes that what is written and posted here will touch them and bring them comfort.  We will try to continue posting as new information and insights are given to us.  

As we try to give back to God just a little bit of what he has given us, we invite everyone who reads here to contribute so that we and others can learn from your experiences and hopefully some good will come out of this dreaded disease.  You have a forum here to reach the world.  We invite you to use it.

Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.  Psalm 19:4

 

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.  John 14:12-14


On the morning of January 6th, we posted the following:

We've noticed a scary trend while posting survivor stories on our site.  It's that there appears to be a high percentage of negative mammograms, ultrasounds and biopsies for women that are eventually diagnosed with cancer, including Kim.  So it came as no surprise while reading the January/February edition of Women's Health that a recent study reported in the UK medical journal The Lancet that mammograms are only 40% accurate.

The study was done on "650 women, ages 35 to 49, who had roughly a 50 percent chance of carrying the gene mutation linked with breast cancer."  The study also showed that "MRIs were 77 percent accurate, but using both raised the accuracy to 94 percent."  

Now we just have to get insurance companies to start covering both tests.  Since Kim's diagnosis, after a negative mammogram, we have been trying to get the word out to not trust mammograms.  While the general advice to have a mammogram every year is good.  It is too often treated as the only thing you need to do aside from monthly self-exams.  With a disease this deadly, how good is a test that is only 40% accurate?

Women's Health suggests that if you have a family history of breast cancer, have both tests done annually when you are 10 years younger than your mother or sister were when they were first diagnosed.  Having both tests would also be good advice to those who have already had cancer.

 

January 5, 2006

Kim's tests are scheduled for tomorrow.  She is now also having pain in her sternum.  Six years ago the cancer she first had was right at her sternum.  Now the concern she has is that cancer may have spread to her sternum.  She asked if I thought she was a hypochondriac.  I said, "Yes...but you need to be."

She has been reading the John Hopkins Breast Center Ask an Expert site for a few days now.  It's very informative, but very scary.  It appears to be common for breast cancer to spread to the sternum.  In a lot of cases it is found only in the sternum and not anywhere else.  

Kim has been trying to get through to her oncologist to also schedule a bone scan.  This was recommended by John Hopkins.  It reminded us that you always have to remain proactive with your care.  

Earlier this week we posted a survivor story we had on our old site from Mary Anne.  She was told repeatedly that a lump she had was a cyst and she shouldn't worry.  She took her care into her own hands and saw a surgeon.  The surgeon did a biopsy and found it was cancer.

You can't rely on one doctor to prescribe your complete and total care.  Keep yourself informed.  Ask questions and make sure you are getting the best treatment available.

 

We received this e-mail shortly after posting Tiffany's story:

I was looking through your website , doing a little window shopping and I saw a new story.. I was reading it. It is from my niece, Tiffany. I cried my eyes out!! We did not have her for so long until my mom got sick with breast cancer. Now she won't leave us alone (I wouldn't have it any other way). So thank you for letting her tell her story. She never even told me she wrote one, she didn't tell anyone. You and your family are in my thoughts everyday.

Thanks Again,

Vera

We also have Vera's story posted on our site.  The internet sure makes the world smaller and closer.


January 2, 2006

Happy New Year everyone!  We have been finding a lot of answers at the John Hopkins Breast Center website.  The ask an expert section has about 10,000 questions and answers.  We submitted a question last night, New Years night, and had it answered already today.  You could literally spend days on their site.

We also have a new survivor story from an 18 year-old granddaughter of a breast cancer survivor.

 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him.   John 3:16-17

December 30, 2005

Sometimes when things go wrong we wonder if it is something we've done.  We ask ourselves, "Are we not living right?"  Basically, "Are we being punished?"

Here is what I've found Jesus says about disease and punishment in John Chapter 9, beginning with the first verse:

As he went along, he saw a blind man from birth.  His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"  

The rabbis had developed the principle that "There is no death without sin, and there is no suffering without iniquity."  They were even capable of thinking that a child could sin in the womb or that its soul might have sinned in a preexistent state.  They also held that terrible punishments came on certain people because of the sin of their parents.  As the next verse shows, Jesus plainly contradicted these beliefs.  Concordia Self-Study Bible NIV pg. 1624.

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned,"  said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

While at first thought we think the rabbis and the disciples really had the wrong idea about everything.  But these beliefs are not too far off from our incorrect thinking we sometimes deal with.  Death and disease did enter into the world because of sin.  However, through Jesus, we are cleansed of our sins.  In this instance, Jesus states that this man was blind so that God can be glorified.

What a great prayer this leads to.  "Father, in Jesus name, forgive me for my sins.  Use me to your glory.  Let this disease be used so that your work might be displayed in my life."

Then you have to trust that what God has planned for you is far more than you can imagine.  

 

Here is an email from Bev:


I have been dealing with cancer for over 6 yrs. I know the strength that God can give. I have faith in His will for my life. I know that he knows best and I have learned to accept it. He had this all worked out before I was even born.

I am cancer free at this time and have been for 4 yrs. I take chemo treatments every 3 weeks.
I travel 2 hrs each way and have great infusion nurses and the greatest oncologist.
It is my belief that God wants me to share my faith and my story with others who are dealing with cancer.
Go to your oncologist and get the tests that are needed to check for a  reoccurrence. There has been such improvements in medicines etc. in the last few yrs. Try not to worry. Give it to God and trust in Him. You may not have anything more than scar tissue.

Hold fast to that anchor --Our Lord Jesus.
In Christ, Bev

Thanks Bev.  We wish you well in your continued treatments.  It is our opinion that improvements in medicine are also gifts from God.  There are thousands of people praying to find a cure. I'd suspect that even some of the scientists working on a cure begin their day with prayer.  Those voices are heard and will be answered in time.

Please feel free to e-mail kim@pinkribbonshop.com if you've struggled with this or have other insights that we might post on our site.  


December 29, 2005

Here is an e-mail from a new friend of ours Eveline:


   
Chris and I will be praying for you this week.  Please let us know how things go.  Just remember, God's promises are true, unchanging and apply to everyone!  He has promises of LONG LIFE.    The best book to read is "God's Creative Power" by Charles Capps.   It is biblically based and teaches you how to claim these promises for yourself and confess them daily.  I literally walked around my house daily talking to God and confessing these scriptures.  I am not someone who has more faith than anyone.  At times, I felt I didn't have any faith at all. 

Remember, it just takes the faith of a mustard seed and what better tool for the devil to use than to attack your faith.  Say these aloud:

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits--who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.  Psalm 103:1-5

He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Psalm 107:20

If you make the most high your dwelling--even the Lord, who is my refuge--then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. Psalm 91:10-12

Verse 11 & 12 of Psalm 91 were actually quoted by Satan in Matthew 4:6; and Luke 4:10-11.  You can bet he believes them.  Use them against him.

My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.  Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart;  for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body.  Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:20-23.  

It doesn't matter if you feel it, just confess it.  I stand on Isaiah 55:11- So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.  God tells us his word (promises) will not return to him empty.  It is His work, just confess it.  We love you guys and feel so blessed to have met you.  The other verse I know for you is Nahum 1:9-10 Whatever they plot against the Lord he will bring to an end; TROUBLE WILL NOT COME A SECOND TIME (capitalization added by Eveline).   

Fear and doubt are normal and come to everyone.  I have some of these posted on my bathroom mirror because I need daily reminders.

Eveline is now cancer free (see January 9th entry) and her hair is beginning to grow back.  She is so full of life and truly a joy to be around.  She is currently working on her story for us.  We can't wait to get it!!  

 

December 28, 2005

First let me say thanks to everyone who is praying for Kim and all your encouragement.  Kim was able to get an appointment to see her new oncologist yesterday.  He was very optimistic that the lump is only fat necrosis due to some dead tissue near her scar that is cut off from a good blood supply.  He has ordered a mammogram, breast ultrasound, chest x-ray, and possible biopsy, and of course lab work for January 6th.  We will hopefully know for sure what it is soon after.

One reason I posted what I did below on December 21st, is that I know many of you out there may be experiencing the same issues of faith.  It was quite uplifting to Kim and myself to realize that we did have faith that God could heal and hoped that many of you would realize that you do also.  We also noticed that the faith didn't always have to belong to the healed.  This also gave us comfort, because I know the people that prayed for Kim do have the faith!

Please feel free to e-mail at kim@pinkribbonshop.com if you've struggled with this or have other insights that we might post on our site.

 

December 21, 2005

It's been almost exactly 6 years since Kim began to feel a lump in her left breast.  She has since had a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation and reconstruction.  She has been on Tamoxifen consistently except while she was pregnant with our three-year-old.

She now has a new lump under the skin that was left after her mastectomy.  She has an appointment with her new oncologist for early January.  We just recently moved from New Orleans to Houston and we are still trying to change our insurance over etc.  She is going to start calling her oncologist every day to see if there is an opening.  We are pretty sure he will order tests and we would like to get things rolling.

Last night we went to a healing service at our church.  We felt we may be going too soon, because we still don't know if it's malignant.  It was a small group of women, our pastor and student pastor, all of whom, I believe to be of great faith in God.  After some songs and testimony, Kim and I were invited to come up to the alter where everyone prayed for Kim's health and that God would rid her body of cancer.

Afterwards, we sat down and talked quietly.  Kim told me she doesn't feel she has the faith to be healed and asked, "Why would God want her to be healed and so many other Christians die of cancer?"  I agreed with her and confessed that I don't think I have the faith either.  

I just recently began reading the gospels of Jesus with a Sunday morning bible study.  I've read the bible as a teenager, but reading it this time I was surprised at how fast everything seemed to come.  When Jesus began His ministry here on earth, it was one healing after another.  I was telling Kim, it's like, "heal two people, feed 5,000, heal three people, feed 4,000, heal some more, walk on water, then back to healing."  I see now why our bible study happened to be on the books of Jesus's life at this time and why I was led to join this study and have been reading the gospels. 

While we were still sitting in church, I picked up the bible and began showing Kim how Jesus did many times say it was because of someone's faith that they were healed, but in other cases there appears to be no faith and Jesus just heals them.  

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years.  She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.  When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity."  Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.   Luke 13:10-13

There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy.  Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?"  But they remained silent.  So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.  Luke 14:2-4

There are other cases where it is not the faith of the one healed but the faith of another asking for the healing.

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.  He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.  When he had spit on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"  He looked up and said, "I see people; they look like trees walking around.  Once more Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes.  Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.  Mark 8:22-25

One of my favorites.

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.  "Lord." he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering."  Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him."  The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.  But just say the word, and my servant will be healed... ...When Jesus heard this he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith... ...Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would."  And the servant was healed at that very hour.  Matthew 8:5-13

So they brought him.  When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion.  He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.  Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"  "From childhood," he answered.  "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him.  But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."  "'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."  Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me to overcome my unbelief!"... ...he rebuked the evil spirit.  "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again."  The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out.  The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He's dead."  But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.  Mark 8:20-27

I love that line, "I do believe; help me to overcome my unbelief!"

I went to bed that night, not convinced that Kim would be O.K., still wondering what God has in mind for us, basically not believing she will be cancer free.  The next morning it came to me.  I have faith that God can heal her and so does Kim.  I have no doubt that the God who created the heavens and earth can change the characteristics of the cells in my wife's body.  I truly believe that it is the power of God that keeps the planets moving and creates the power released from the stars.  It is his power that runs every living cell.  It is his power that has kept the electron spinning around the proton since the creation of matter.  There is no convincing scientific explanation for these things and I believe there never will be.  

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  
Psalm 19:1

Of course the God of all creation can change the matter that is in that lump to whatever he feels.  The question we are struggling with is, "Will he?"

So for us it's not a matter of faith.  We have faith that God can heal her and make this lump benign or just disappear.  For us it is a question of God's will.  Which actually goes back to our faith.  We have lived for sometime now knowing that everything that happens is for a reason and our lives have been very blessed.  I'm not saying we have had a glorious wealthy life as some would described blessed.  We have had our share of problems.  But out of those problems, blessings have always flowed.  

It is because of our belief that God's will shall be done that we now have uncertainty for the future of Kim's health.  I don't fear our future life.  If it is cancer, we will make it.  If God chooses to take Kim now, the kids and I will make it and that God will bring blessing out of this.  I know these things, but I don't want them.  Right now I want Kim's health.  At the moment I find myself asking, "Who am I to ask God to change his plans for us?"  Our struggle is, "What is God's will and how do we live with his decisions?"

While working on this I found the following that speaks of God's will:

A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."  Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.  "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!"  Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.  Matthew 8:2-3

Last night in church I asked Kim if she would ask Jesus to heal her if He was there and she said yes.  I reminded her that He was there and that is what we just did.  Last night we went and knelt before the Lord and said, "If you are willing, you can make Kim clean."

 

Kim can be reached at: kim@pinkribbonshop.com

 

 

 

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