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Pumps and Pearls

One word describes the PUMPS AND PEARLS nightaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhmaaaazzzzzzzzzzzziiing!  When my breast health navigator and now dear friend, Becky Steele, asked me if I would be in the fashion show alongside 15 other breast cancer survivors, I gladly said “yes”, and then thought, “wait, me!  A runway?  A fashion show?"  But if y’all know me well, you know that I love fashion, accessories, make up, jewelry, clothes, and well anything and any excuse to get “dressed up”.  So this was an exciting night that I looked forward to for months, knowing that my tribe would be there to cheer me on as I made my way down the runway.  As the newest member of the models, a 3 month survivor, I looked at the other ladies and gentleman in awe.  Their stories brought me to tears of how they had been cancer free for 5, 6, 14, and 35 plus years.  And the precious little girl that walked with Dabo’s wife, Kathleen Swinney, rocked that runway in honor of her mommy that died of this terrible disease.  That!  That right there made it all more real.  It is so important to help fund the research to find an ultimate cure to end this battle and WE need to do our part to educate others on early detection and more self exams.  Being 37 when I found my tumor, and not just ignoring the self “breast check” myself, truly helped me be able to quickly be diagnosed and given a plan to start this fight.   If my tumor had not been so large and evident, helping it to be so noticeable, I, myself, may have waited until I was 40 to have a mammogram.  Who knows what the future would have look like for me or if I’d even be here? Thanks be to GOD that I did feel it, that it is barely even there now, and I’m on the road to being cancer free.  I’m already dreaming of December 22nd, when I get to ring the bell for finishing my last chemo treatments.  I’m already thinking we may need Santa, his sleigh bells and maybe his sled to take us for a ride after this leg of the journey. 


So back to the spectacular PUMPS and PEARLS event....the keynote speaker, Claire Ripley was wonderful.  She’s endured so much and her light for Jesus is still so bright.
One quote she shared is above...."inhale---courage-----exhale----fear".
Courage and fear are two perfect words that describe me daily!  Jesus has given me the courage to be able to take these chemo drugs each week, face the side effects (TAXOL is easier, by the way!) and wake up each morning to tackle the day as a mommy, a wife, and a teacher.  But life is hard and keeping it all together is even harder.  I spend a lot of time inhaling, taking those deep breaths to give me the courage and strength to make it each day.  But the FEAR.  That’s there too.  Tons of it.  Although I can almost barely feel my tumor and how absolutely wonderful that makes me feel, in the back of my mind, I fear my upcoming surgery like no other.  I fear the chance that it’ll come back. And I fear that this disease may take my life early.  I trust Jesus and I know his plan is already written for me, but I just pray each day that he continues to give me the strength and heals my body completely so that I can LIVE, LOVE, and SURVIVE!

A special thanks to all of the people who helped make this event perfect.  I know everyone had a wonderful time for a great cause.  Save the date for next year, October 16, 2018.  This girl may have an extra special escort to walk her down the runway.  























So tomorrow I go in the morning for my 7th round of chemo.  I had dinner tonight with my sweet friend Angie and my fortune was perfect and encouraging... 


So please continue to pray for...
-the next chemo treatments
-the Clemson/Georgia Tech game as I stand in as the team captain for breast cancer for ALL that have fought, won, and sadly lost the battle 
-my family and friends who have been such amazing caregivers
-those who have been diagnosed recently and are starting the journey to wellness

Love you all!  

"The Lord is my light and my salvation-who shall I fear."  Psalm 27:1



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Chemo #6

Chemo #6 started with a bang as I was given 3 rounds of steroids in a pill form before getting to the hospital, hoping a reaction from last time would not occur.  More premeds were given like Benadryl and MORE steroids, and I'm sure some other meds, so I was feeling pretty strange and a little drowsy by the time the Taxol started.  About half way through the IV drip, I got hot and began to panic a little as I thought an attack was coming on, but the nurse stopped the meds, gave me a minute to calm down, and we finished strong.  Real strong.  I was having terrible restless leg issues and could've kicked anything and everything that walked by me.  The massage therapist came in for a foot rub and then Jeremy continued which made things better!  My nurse  wanted to watch me for 30 minutes afterwards and that's when things got a little edgy.  This girl was ready to go!  J and my dad were my sidekicks, and they saw a side of me that I'm afraid to say wasn't so sweet and nice.  I literally almost ran ahead of them, flew down the stairs, as I couldn't get to the car fast enough.  I could've used super powers to fly out of that building.  They just looked at each other with a look of "who is this girl" and followed behind.  All I wanted was some Publix chicken wings, a shower, the couch, and to watch the game (which ended up making me even more irritated)!   This pic was before it started with one of Jett's Halloween prizes!  
So that was round #6.  I prayed for strength and God gave it to me in a mighty, big way!  Your prayers worked and the Taxol should be administered like clock work, so now 10  more rounds to go!  

Sweet visitors came and saw me before the mean streak came out, thankfully,  and brought me this beautiful canvas!  How talented is Madison?  Thank you all for loving on me during this crazy time in life!  

 My doctor and his NP that I just love stopped by for a quick check in.  I cannot tell y'all how it feels to be cared for by the best team in Greenville!  They truly care about their patients๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’—

So now for the weekend!  Woke up at 6 am, ready to start the day?  Could it be the steroids still?  I guess we will see!  I'm thankful to be alive and feeling good and just see God working in my life.  He truly is giving me the strength I need each day to wear many hats...a wife, a mommy, a teacher, a daughter, a friend....and so many more!  People always ask...how are you feeling? and my response is usually "every day is new day".  And it is!  More good than bad, and that's where I THANK HIM DAILY!  Lord, you are the one that knows our needs and our hearts.  Forgive me for being a little cranky on Friday the 13th.  Today's a new day so Happy Saturday y'all!  

Please pray for:

-my upcoming genetic counseling appointment 
-10 more rounds of chemo
-surgery decisions
-my family and all they do for this "roller coaster of emotions girl"

"The Lord is my strength and my song." Exodus 15:2


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Trusting


Hearing the news of having breast cancer was the scariest time in my whole entire life.  And the reaction that happened Friday night probably beat that.  I can remember it all so vividly, as I could feel my lips and head literally swelling out of control and the tightness in my chest.  Everyone kept telling me that all was going to be ok, and the nurses were rushing in with the oxygen machine and cutting the chemo machines completely off.  These exact side effects were told to me before we started the regimen, but I just knew that it would go as smoothly as the first four treatments did.  Wow!  That didn't happen.  But God was faithful.  A sweet nurse rubbed my hand the whole time, a doctor stood over me for a long while, asking lots of questions and making big decisions as to what to do next.  My best friend Erica kept telling me to breath in the calmest voice.  But the decision was ultimately left up to me.  Continue or go home?  That was a hard one to make but through prayer and Jeremy whispering the words "trust" to me....I told the doctors and nurses to "let's do it". They gave me more Benadryl and started the Taxol at a slower rate and everything went smoothly and no reaction occurred.  We shut down the cancer center Friday night, literally with no other cars in the lot, and seeing that Jesus statue lit up amongst the stars made me rest easy that we'd made the right decision.  I'm a fighter and with God by my side, the fighting is a little easier.  
It's neat how stories from the Bible are laid on our hearts and can bring us so much peace.  My mom and dad came over to spend time with me today as I stayed home from school and shared the story of Lazarus, Mary, Martha, and Jesus.  My parents' preacher shared this story with their congregation at church last night and mentioned how trusting in God is key in our daily walk.  My dad shared the story with me.  (Isn't he just the cutest sporting his #tribecactus bracelet and using his "Race for the Cure" glass?) When Jesus was told of Lazarus' sickness, Jesus didn't rush to him, he didn't even worry.  He simply trusted and prayed that he would be ok and he was in the end.  Jesus said "I am the resurrection and the life and one day I will cause all of those who believe in me to live."  Jesus was taken to Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, and Jesus raised him from the dead.  It's in times like this when things happen and we don't understand, we have to trust in His timing.  

So the extra dose of Benadryl after starting Taxol made me so sleepy throughout the rest of evening.  And of course all of the fluids being put into my body made for many bathroom runs.  Note to self:  never, ever, ever wear cute little booties to chemo!  They are not the best for high-tailing it to the bathroom with your bff and nurse, rolling your iv machine down the hall!  Ha!  And after all that medicine, a wheelchair to the car was inevitable!  My body just didn't want to move after all of that!  

So now we wait until Friday!  I have to go much earlier than last time because they'll want to give it more time to actually drip, I guess.  I'll also have to probably take some Benadryl before coming, but that's all up to the doctor which I'm waiting to hear from.  
The side effects from the Taxol have been nothing like the A/C.  It seems a little easier, so far.  I'm still exhausted everyday and my fingers hurt from the neuropathy.  I couldn't button Jett's little shirt for church which made me get upset, and the body aches are no fun. This too shall pass!  I'm living and that's what matters!  

Thanks for all of your comments and prayers!  You just don't know how much each little Facebook or Instagram comment means to all of us.  We all read them all...me, J, and my parents.  It's a mighty comforting feeling to know that so many friends,  family, and even people who don't even know me are praying for us during this journey.
Upcoming events to pray for:

Taxol #2 on Friday...pray it goes smoothly and my blood counts are good

Pray for all of my doctors and nurses, as they have been precious and knowledgeable throughout every treatment

Pray that my health is good for these upcoming events:  Pumps and Pearls Fashion Show on October 17 and the Clemson/Georgia Tech game on October 28

Continue to pray for my students as they watch me daily...word on the street is I have a wig and now I'm just waiting any day for one of them to ask me about it!  

Pray for my sweet husband and Jett and their continuous daily walk with me!  

Pray for my parents as they watch their daughter fight!  

Love to all!  

I said to myself "relax, because the Lord takes care of you."  Psalm 116:7








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Race for the Cure

Be bold.  Be fearless.  Be more. As soon as I found out that I was diagnosed with breast cancer I knew that this race was a must do! In the back of my mind, I questioned myself if I’d feel like it and be well enough to even participate after several rounds of rough chemo.  When I saw that Clemson and Carolina were both playing away games, that was a sign that this race would have an even better turn out.   So many of my friends and family came and were able to walk beside me on this special day, and alongside others walking in honor or memory of their loved ones too.  As over 5,000 people gathered downtown Greenville, the streets turned pink in color as many dressed up to support the cause.  Tons of money was raised to help find a cure for this nasty disease.

We arrived early setting up a tent/meeting place for my tribe with the prettiest sign, biggest cactus ever, and tons of yummy breakfast treats! The survivor ceremony followed and had us line up based on how many months/years we’d be diagnosed or considered a survivor.  I was honored to hold the sign for under 1 year,  but as I saw the line grow and the women who are still living and strong enough to walk/run in a race after over 40+ years,  the tears just fell.  Ugly tears.  I just couldn’t get it together.  And then seeing my parents in the stands and many others cheering us all on, I cannot even tell you the emotions that were running through my body.  Many gathered at our tent before the race and afterwards to chat and share their race stories.  Jeremy, Jett, and I signed up for the 1 mile fun run because I truly didn’t know if I’d be able to even do a mile. While reading a devotional the other day, it said that in whatever crisis we face, we can always run to God to help, praise Him as we wait, and then be confident in His INFINITE care for us.  And that’s what I did.  I prayed that God would give me the strength to get me to that finish line.  And I praised Him when I got there.  It was almost like God’s cool breath came over me when I went through the pink balloon arch and was handed my medal.  Unfortunately, the race routes were not marked well, and Jett and Jeremy took off ahead of us and ended up doing the 5k.  Yes!  Jett did the 5k and was so proud of himself!  His daddy was pretty proud too!  Seeing them cross the finish line was a tear jerker too!.  The “kids for the cure” medal Jett was given made him smile from ear to ear and he insisted on taking it to school the next day to show his teacher.  When the race was done and it was time to go home, I literally collapsed in the car with such a happy, tired heart, seeing the people of Greenville show tons of love for the current fighters, the survivors, and the ones already taken.  Thanks for all those who came and helped make this a successful event to find a cure!  





 Here are some interesting statistics:
  • Because 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • Because every 19 seconds, somewhere in the world, a case of breast cancer is diagnosed in a woman.
  • Because every 60 seconds, somewhere in the world, someone dies from breast cancer; every 13 minutes, one woman in the U.S. will lose her life to breast cancer.
  • Because breast cancer knows no boundaries. It affects people of every age, gender, socio-economic status and location.
  • Because at the current rate, 13 million breast cancer deaths will occur around the world in the next 25 years.
So that's that.  Live, love, survive!  That’s my goal daily. 
 “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”  Psalm 57:1


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A grander plan

When Jeremy and I met in 1995, at a mere age of 15 and 19, little did I know what our future would hold.  That God would have a grander plan for us.  Our wedding song was Rascal  Flatt's "Broken Road" and I still love those lyrics.  
I now know that God had a plan for every single ounce of both our lives and that he was just paving the path that year and that road would be complete years later.  As a teenage girl, I just knew that he was cute and fun to be around and was “in love” with a cowboy.  We had just moved from Summerville and so I was meeting tons of new people at school and around the community.   When I asked my parents if I could go to a bonfire with Jeremy Gault, they were a little hesitant.  It was after my daddy realized that he knew his parents and that they went to high school with each other since my dad grew up here.  So I got to go and that’s when it all began.  Long talks on the phone until we literally fell asleep, prom, rodeo nights, Scuffletown, family events, etc…we had lots of fun.  But there were days when we were still young and carefree and so some days were tough as I think I wanted more of a serious relationship than he did.  Let’s be honest….he was still sowing his oats and wasn't ready for that commitment.  We dated off and on for 10 years, probably more off than on, but when I was in my senior year of Clemson, we both decided that that we were meant to be together.  It was two years after that under a beautiful, old oak tree in our yard, that he popped the question and we walked down the aisle 7 months later. 

So throughout all of our years together, and J’s whole life really, horses and rodeo have been his thing.  His uncles were involved in horse shows and rodeos and so every single weekend consisted of a roping somewhere in the southeast area or a rodeo.  I’d go to many and was always proud of him if he caught the steer or not.  But...it's a gamble.  Practice and practice and practice but still, it all depends on that steer and luck. He always picks himself up after a bad run and tries again.  That makes me proud.  And that legacy for a love of horses and riding will most likely continue in in our little fellow.  Right now, he wants to be just like his daddy, down to the shoes, hat, belt, and jeans he wears.  All he wants to do is ride in the wind with the big boys.  His favorite song right now is “Cowboys like us” by George Strait and he knows every single word.

When the news of the professional rodeo coming to Fountain Inn came during the summer, we knew we’d be there as some of dearest friends were putting it on.  Little did we know that I would have been diagnosed with breast cancer, and the support that would come with that as the contestants and fans wore pink to show their love on Saturday night.  My little boy was excited for weeks as we talked about how he’d ride in the grand entry with his daddy.  And that was one special moment that left this mommy speechless and in tears.  A little boy starting to follow his dreams… I’m pretty sure he dreamed about his future on the rodeo road that night. 


Thanks to all of you that came out and loved on us.  We were overwhelmed with the kind words, hugs, but most of all your continued prayers.  
So with no more days off from school for chemo,  I felt like I started school all over again this week. 16 years in the same grade helps tremendously as I know the standards and curriculum.   My team is wonderful and so helpful when days get tough. The morning routine at home is hard sometimes with a strong-willed little fellow.  I was telling someone the other day that getting myself and Jett ready in the morning is like a hard core workout at the gym.  I feel as if I’ve climbed 17 flights of stairs and ran miles and miles when I finally get us in the car to go to school.  But all in all, school is going great for both of us.  Jett’s adjusted well and my students are absolutely precious. I’m so glad to be back with them on a regular basis.  I have to give props to my wonderful sub Katherine who kept their world going when I was out.  She graded every set of papers, taught every lesson I planned, and kept them all alive.  So she's ultimately a rockstar!  

It's been so dang hot so I wore my wig in a ponytail for the first time in awhile and one of my little fellows asked if I had gotten a haircut.  really wanted to hug his neck as I’m so glad he thinks my hair is real and that I look perfectly normal and healthy in his little eyes.  I hope that’s the way all of my kids see me.  This job isn’t for the faint at heart, but it's oh so rewarding.  I am thankful each day for God leading me to this profession and that I haven’t lost the passion as some do.  Someone once told me that “every child in your class is someone’s whole world.”   And how true is that!     

So God had that grand plan for J and I many years ago.  Little did we know we'd be here.  22 years together with a little boy that steals our hearts every second of the day. 

Can't wait to see many of you Saturday at the race!  Let's race for that cure.  I want to see my little fellow live out his legacy, roping and riding, and chasing the sun!  

Here's some  prayer requests…
Pray for all those registered for RACE for the CURE! And pray for an ultimate cure for all cancer!  
Continue to pray I stay healthy and can teach each day
Pray for Jett and his daily school life…it’s tough being 3.5 and being GOOD all the time
Pray for my first TAXOL round on Friday, October 6
Pray for J, my mom and dad, and all those that help me so much on a daily basis

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




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Walk on. Have faith. Fear not.





Excited and fearless are I know two crazy words for the feelings that I had for this #4 treatment, but that's how I felt Wednesday morning.   I was slightly concerned that my counts may have been low because they were for #3 (90 and needed to be 100), but when they told me they were 129 and we were ready to go, I could've done a happy dance!  The last big one of the A/C cocktail!  I can tell that the tumor has shrunk by at least 50% just by feeling, and that is the best feeling in the world to know that these toxins being put in my body are working to kill this!  

So on the way up to the chemo pod I couldn't help but think of one of my favorite songs "Good, good Father".  It brings tears each time I hear it but man....it's true!  He's so good!  My favorite part is this... 



Perfect in all of your ways....never would I say that this road of cancer was perfect by any means, but seeing how much closer I am to my precious Lord and Savior because of this trial.  Yeah, He is perfect!  And the peace so unexplainable.  When I sit in that big chemo chair, or lay on the couch, or in our bed, I truly have an all consuming peace that whether I live 5 years after this battle or 50 years, the peace that I have, knowing that I'll live forever with Him is wonderful. I pray for a long life with all of those I love and those that  love me but his peace.  It's amazing!  

Chemo #4, like all of the others, was somewhat like a party.  My family and friends came to cheer me on, brought delicious treats and huge smiles.  My tribe never ceases to amaze me!  The nurses usually are very shocked by the number of people that come behind me and have told us that only 2 can be with me in the room at a time, but we seem to overlook that rule and stay quiet and no one says a thing.  It's amazing how small talk, visitors and food make the day fly by!



Clint and Cathy Carter came and prayed with us before it all began.  I just love them and will always remember their love and welcoming spirit when I changed my membership to FIFBC.  
The girl tribe kept me in stitches, talking about everything under the sun!  
And this sweet friend!  She was always like a another big sister to me, working at the jewelry store.  "Long friendships are like jewels, polished over time to become beautiful and enduring." ~Celia Brayfield
And didn't we polish our fair share of jewels, sweet Aimee!  
And sweet Meredith and my mother-in -❤️!  I just love them and am so glad they are a part of my family.   

My parent's preacher came and circled us in prayer and is always so precious with the texts he sends me daily as I am recovering.  

And then my massage therapist friend comes in each time to massage my feet right before I leave.  She's so gentle and soft spoken that I almost fall asleep and don't want to leave the heated massaging chair.  I'll miss seeing her but look forward to the Friday massage girl after a long day of teaching.  

And finally this boy!  He hasn't missed a doctor's appointment or a treatment and continues to hold me up
on my weakest days and sees me when I crumble.  God gave me you!  And I'm blessed beyond measure!  

I haven't felt like reading over the last three treatments but did yesterday, so these are two wonderful books that were given to me and I cannot put them down.  


Fervent is by Priscilla Shirer from the War Room and she does a jam up job coaching you on how to pray for every aspect of your life.  My favorite passage so far in her book is in the chapter about FEAR.  



And the other one, When God Doesn't Fix It, by Laura Story,      tells the story of when her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor and how she found joy in this terrible trial.  She discusses how tempted she was to be angry with God but then she says "am I going to let my circumstances determine my view of God or am I going to let God determine how I view my circumstances?   Wow!  One of Laura's songs says it all...we pray for your Your Mighty hand to ease our suffering.  

Blessings

So now for another day of rest.  You'll find me laying in the bed probably wearing my new boots!  Ha! Nah!  I'll save them for tomorrow night but they came and fit and I can't wait to rock them.   Meeting the UPS man at the door with my bald head probably scarred him for life, but this overnight delivery made the day worth it!   


So for prayer requests... 
Pray for so many that have just recently found out about a new diagnosis and are suffering and worried.

Please pay that I continue to feel well and can stay active.  

Prayers for the upcoming 12 Taxol rounds through December. 

Prayers for decisions regarding surgery and reconstruction. 

Prayers for our family as they are continuously helping with Jett and making daily life run smoothly.  

And pray for those that are lost.  Pray that they can find Jesus and see His wonderful plan that he has for us all.  

Race for the Cure is next weekend and I'm so excited to see lots of friends who have already won this battle and those fighting alongside me!   It you haven't registered and would like to here's the link!  It's not too late!  

Race for the Cure

So that's all for now!  Walk on. Have faith. And fear not.  

"It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure."  2 Samuel 22:33





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