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A little change...





 Today began with my normal blood work check-up to see the doctor.  This was a scheduled visit as I see him every 3 weeks after a round of the oral chemo I’m on.  I was excited to begin my fourth round and be halfway done with this part of my treatment plan when BAM!  Labs came back and due to the increase of my bilirubin count, he’s stopped the oral chemo that I’m on for now. My bulirubin count has been going up ever since I started this medicine but it’s higher now than he’d like to see. I’ll have an ultrasound on my liver next Wednesday to check on what is going on and to see what is causing this number to increase.  Last week was my off week of meds so it’s kind of odd that it’s gone up.  He truly thinks that all of the chemo I’ve been on is just causing these numbers to elevate, but wants to rule anything else out by taking a closer look.  As I was talking with him today, the tears came pretty quickly as a little fear crept in.  He assured me that he doesn’t think this has to do with the cancer, but that thought still creeps in and causes me to wonder. I’m ever so thankful for a cautious doctor who stays on top of every little detail and truly cares about little ol’ me.  



 The quote my mom shared with me this morning really helped ease my mind as you can’t help but wonder “why” sometimes, but trusting and truly knowing Him completely, allows me to see the big picture.  My journey is His plan.  And each little trouble that comes along is an opportunity to lean on Him even more. 

And as I kept reading over Ruth Graham’s quote,  I got a text from a dear friend, who is fighting her own battle, while waiting to see the doctor.  And what did it say??  It was about fear, with some of the lyrics from one of my favorite songs, “Tremble”.
  He does silence fear.  






And then she sent this picture of some text from one of my favorite devotion books that I passed on to her, minutes  before my doctor came in.   

“Only Jesus can save and fill and give what my soul desires.  Please remind me to draw close to You and rely on the promise that You will draw close to me when I do.”  Whew!  Amen.  

Talk about the Holy Spirit being present and some perfect timing.  

The song by Hannah Kerr, “Warrior”, came to my mind when leaving feeling a little down and unsettled.  
Faith is my shield.  And His Love is the armor.  





Thank you to my prayer warriors, who are constantly lifting my name up to Him.  
Those prayers are felt and are so appreciated. 
Please pray specifically for me on July 25..   
I’ll keep you posted!



  Love you all!  

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34






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Real Men Wear Pink




When Jeremy was nominated to be one of the men for the Real Men Wear Pink campaign, I couldn’t have been prouder.   Since I was  diagnosed with breast cancer last summer, he’s been by my side every step of the way.  Through doctor appointments, chemo, surgery, and radiation, we truly believe our faith in God has given us both the strength to fight this disease, hand in hand.  Jeremy is sup r excited about being a part of the American Cancer Society’s campaign this year, helping to raise money for those battling breast cancer.  


#cowboyforacause




https://www.facebook.com/157634055015989







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“Cancerversary”



7-12-17

Noon.

I’ll never forget the call from the nurse that Dr. Keith wanted to meet with me.  And J.

I just knew then the news wasn’t good.  I was dropping Jett off to stay with my parents when Doctor Keith called me before we met and said those words. 

“It’s cancer, come as soon as you can”. 

I crumbled...into the arms of my parents. 

I cried the whole way to the doctor, collapsed into Jeremy’s arms in the parking lot and then we walked in the exam room, sat and waited to see her.  She was very calm as she told us the details.  


Stage 2, infiltrating ductal carcinoma.  


That moment my world seemed to spin, and everything felt like it was falling on top of me. We just cried and cried and then my doctor hugged me and told me it would be one heck of a year but I would be ok.  She had just done exactly what I was getting ready to go through. 


And it was at that moment, I knew I had to fight for my life.  And fight hard. 




Next up...

*4 extremely roughy chemo treatments of the red devil 

*12 chemos that wreaked havoc on my finger nails 

*Bilateral mastectomy

*33 rounds of radiation

*6 months of oral chemo

*Hysterectomy in December 

*And then years of Arimidex.  


And a lifetime of wonder.


Wondering if it’ll come back, and how much longer He will keep me here.  Yes I wonder these things.  I can’t help it.  I do know that He has my life in His hands, but the wonder just doesn’t leave you.  


Just this week, I had a panic attack and knew that I didn’t feel like myself.  Nurses and medicine do amazing things.  I’m totally not ashamed to ask for help when I need it for my family’s sake and mine.  Every single day since Father’s Day, the day I found my tumor, I’ve relived each day of the past year.  The day I first met with my doctor, meeting my surgeon for the first time, the mammogram, the MRI, the biopsy, the PET scan,  meeting with my oncologist for my plan, and today, my “cancerversary”.  The anniversary of the day I was pricked with that mean old cactus.  





It’s not a day of celebration like we do for a real anniversary.  


No flowers, no dinner out, no cards.  


But it is surely a day that I want to give thanks to our precious Savior within this storm.  




A day that I can be thankful for another year of life.  





I give thanks to Him for literally cradling me in his arms every step of the way. 




 I give thanks for Him giving the knowledge to my team of doctors to rid the cancer from my body.  








 I give thanks to Him for giving me my husband who never left my side, parents and in-laws who helped so much with Jett.







And I give thanks to our tribe who bathed us with prayer, cards, texts and visits during one of the hardest battles anyone would ever want to face.  
















His love and mercy has been so evident each and every step of the way.  


Just this week, I read in John 5 about the man who went to the healing pool to be healed. Jesus walked by, stopped, and miraculously healed him.  The healing pool did not.  He showed loved and mercy to him that the pool could not.  And then Jesus was tortured and ridiculed for healing him on the Sabbath and for calling to His Father during this time.  The Sabbath day was a day of rest and the Jews believed that no one was equal with God.  Jesus explained that God, His Father, was always working....even on Sundays, the Sabbath day, and that he was just doing what His Father does.  


So let us never lose sight of our Father.  

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sundays.  


His love is enough to love us every day.  


We can’t help ourselves and need Him daily.  He’s the master planner and boy have I seen that.  I’m a planner too and this little detail wasn’t on my calendar.  But have I been able to see Him work in so many ways through this rocky path.  He constantly intervenes to accomplish His work, and I can testify to that. 


His plan is right.  It’s good.  It’s not always pretty and what I want, but that’s ok. 


 It helps me to see that it’s not about me, it’s about Him.


These 365 days have been quite different for us all.  We’ve had our ups and downs, our happy moments, and sad ones and times where we’ve been on our knees begging God for a miracle.  


And each time, He’s shown up. 

And shown out.  


As I’ve laid in bed each night this week at the beach, hearing J and Jett’s prayers leave me speechless.  They ask Him to be with mommy and continue to heal my body.  This means so much to hear the guys so near and dear to me, ask this on my behalf each night.  

I know that God hears those sweet, sweet requests.  





Speaking of sweet, while stopping at The Chocolate Tree in Beaufort, as we always do, Jett saw the lady’s breast cancer ribbon pins on her apron.  He whispered to me that she has ribbons like you have, mommy.  He then asked her why she wore them and she replied back that they were special to her and that’s all she said to him with a sweet wink.  He just looked up at me with those big blue eyes and smiled.  I’ve been careful, guarding him from what he hears and sees.  But he picks up on way more than I ever thought he would.  Just like that pink ribbon pin.  I pray that he continues to show compassion and sees how he can make a difference in the lives of other people.  He’s well on his way, and I couldn’t be prouder.  May he never lose sight of the King we serve, and may his faith grow stronger each and every day. 




This week I’ve been able to truly marvel at His creation of the beach and take in the majestic beauty of the ocean, the tides, every grain of sand, and the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. 




I treasure the beautiful shells and even the dead crabs my sweet boy brings me, and for each one I thank the Lord for his sweet self.  



The song “Love Like Crazy” by Lee Brice came on and I lost it.  The lyrics sum up so much of my life...






So love like crazy. 

Never overuse “I love yous.”

Get on your knees.  

Pray for your family and friends. Love your children.  

Love your parents.  

Love your people.  


And ultimately love God.  He’s amazing and I’m looking forward to a full, long life to share His word and experience many more fun memories with the people I love, knowing He’s got me.  


His promise is all I need.  


A promise of an eternity of life with Him.  






Prayer requests:

A friend having upcoming scans 

Friends having upcoming surgeries

A friend receiving radiation for the first time soon

A good report next week from my doc after lowering dosage...bilirubin has been increasing each time and they are monitoring that super closely

Those newly diagnosed

Those fighting daily 


Thank you so much for reading my posts and diligently lifting these friends up.  


“The fear or the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding.  To Him belongs eternal praise.”  Psalm 111:10










 






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38 things I’m THaNKfUl for


This time last year I was heading to dinner at one of our all time favorite seafood dives at the beach for my birthday.   We had planned on going out with my sister-in-law, brother- in-law, their two girls, J and Jett.  My in-laws sadly had to leave the beach earlier that week due to my father-in-law’s
health, so it was just us.  



Until I saw that my momma and daddy had driven down to Beaufort to surprise their baby girl for my birthday.  


We ate and talked, took pictures, and the whole time I couldn’t take my mind off of this huge lump I kept catching myself feel.  The only person that knew about it was Jeremy and my doctor, since I’d messaged her earlier in the week.  It was all consuming.  I remember sitting on the beach watching the kids play, and I’d tear up.  Or we’d be at the pool, and I’d feel it. I even almost took my mom to the bathroom at the restaurant that night to tell her about it.  But I didn’t.  I never would have wanted to ruin her trip down to the low country that they’d made for my special day.  But as the beach week came to a close, i was ready to find out just what this thing was.  I just knew that the doctor would tell me that everything was ok and it was just a cyst.  I really did think that.  One in eight.  I wouldn’t be the one.  But I was.  

So I took the bull by the horns and fought the fight and
am still battling it to this very day.  


And so year 37 has been one of the hardest, saddest, and sickening of all the years God has given me, but also it’s been wonderful, full of His faithfulness, and rich with love from my friends and family.  


So what better way than to reminisce over this year, than naming 38 things I’m more thankful for than I’ve ever been...
1.  A strong faith in Jesus, God’s son
2.  My wonderful husband who never left my side
3.  My precious little fellow that calls me mommy and loves on me every second we are together 
4.  My amazing parents and in-laws who have been with us every single step of the way
5.  Our family who has loved on us and helped in many different situations
6.  My TRIBE of friends who have prayed for us and held me, wiping many tears away
7.  My precious doctors (Keith-OBGYN, Dyar-oncologist, Millican-surgeon, and Allen-radiation oncologist) who knew the plan and have constantly been by my side during each step
8.  The chemo nurses who intravenously put poison in my body to kill this disease
7.  ALL nurses and staff at St. Francis who took note of all of my concerns and gave the best care
8.  The port ladies who are still accessing my port each time without me feeling a thing and lidocaine cream for numbing
9.  Sister Dorothy and all of the sisters who shared God’s promises with me during treatments 
10.  My principal, team, and staff at BCES, who constantly came to check on me and give big hugs
11.  My Giddy-Ups and their families, who understood the situation and were always willing to help in room 202
12.  Cards from students, past and present, full of love and prayers 
13.  My precious substitute who stepped in and never missed a beat teaching my sweet students
14.  Wigs!  Three that kept me looking normal 
15.  Black out curtains that helped so much when I was so sensitive to light
16.  Sonic slushees that helped with mouth sores
17.  Clemson football-I looked forward to each game during the week
18.  Baseball hats and crocheted caps
19.  The many meals prepared with such love 
20.  Cards, texts, sursies, and phone calls that always brightened my spirits
21.  Daily devotion books that helped me focus on Him
22.  Music of all kinds,  especially during recovery with surgery
23.  Lemon drops and candy to take away the terrible taste from the flushes of my port 
24.  Visitors who kept my mind off of the scary times
25.  My home and bed that kept me comfortable and warm
26.  My sweet cleaning lady that came and helped so much
27.  Heated chairs and blankets at chemo 
28.  Foot massages every treatment 
29.  Medicine to help curb the side effects
30.  Sweet tea and lemonade
31.  Celebrating holidays, especially Christmas with so many of my friends and family and Santa! 
32.  The Clemson Tigers for taking me on a tour of the most beautiful stadium and allowing me to be the Spirit of the Tiger honoree
33.  Sunrises that remind me that I’ve lived another day and  sunsets that help me count my blessings for the day
34.  Good Netflix shows 
35.  Ka-brow eyebrow paint so I could draw them in
36.  Wendy’s frosties
37.  The book.  The Bible.  His word. 

I could go on.  But I’ll stop with these.  

A recent devotion that I read said these words...”you never know when your time is going to expire, so remember: as you add years to your life, add life to your years.”

So on this birthday, I will sit back thanking God for 1 more year of life with my tribe.  My wish this year is to live many more years, shining God’s light within me.  

And that’ll be the best gift of all.  

Today was the greatest day.  I started with breakfast with my little buddy. 


 Lunch followed with the dearest friend and the lady who molded me into the teacher I am today.  



She’s been by my side the whole way, bringing prizes for Jett on a regular basis (which makes him frelmoh so special), and loving on my whole family.  

And then dinner with the crew, which was so special.  





A night cap swim ended the night with a beautiful sunset and the sweetest cards from my guys.  





William Barclay once said, “there are two great days in a person’s life...the day we are born and the day we discover why.” 

This year, I’ve seen the why.  God put me here on this Earth for a reason. He allowed me to be a daughter, a wife, a mother, a sister, and a friend to many.   He let this cancer journey be a part of my walk to help others and share God’s love. 
And that’s my why right now.  
So today was a great day.  

Oral chemo update:  they lowered my dosage by 500 mg each time so I’m taking about 2,000 mg twice a day and after four days into round 3, I can see a slight difference. My hands are still peeling pretty bad but my feet seem a little better.  I have an appointment with the podiatrist after our beach trip to remove both big toenails as they causing lots of pain. The Taxol caused all fingernails to lift and only affected my two toenails, thankfully!  
When I get discouraged and irritated over these little things, I seriously have to stop and get myself in check.  It could be worse.  I’m still alive, I can wear flip flops and open toed shoes, and I can walk, move and function.  I’m thankful for cute bandaids too to keep these suckers held on tight and to prevent any more pain.  
Thanks for all your continuous prayers.  I go back after
our beach trip and hopefully this dosage will be the exact amount my body can handle to keep the cancer away!  

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”   John 10:10





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Hope



Hope is a word I strongly believe in.  
Webster’s definition is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”
And I’ve felt a strong sense of hope during some very hopeless times.  
This verse helped me so much during the early days of my diagnosis.
  “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put you hope in God, for I will praise Him, my savior and my God.”  Psalm 31:24 

I know that my future is ultimately in His hands and it will be better than the present that I’m living now.  

So when I learned about the Chapel of Hope in Asheville, through a dear family friend, I knew that a trip must be made.  And what better time than during my birthday week.  

The Chapel of Hope was built in 1991
by the Barutio family, after Mrs. Barutio miraculously recovered from cancer. It only measures 12x14 feet, seats 8 at a time, and has four pews.  







As we pulled up, the silence and trickle of the nearby creek was the calmest sound you’ve ever heard.  Jett was super inquisitive and walked in the chapel, asking “is anybody here?”  I asked him if he wanted to
pray and he knelt down immediately, horses and all from the nearby general store.


  My dad then took him to
see the creek so that my mom and I could have some
quiet time together in this precious chapel.  We left a prayer cactus, a list of prayer concerns, and a little piece of our heart.  I hit my knees and thanked Him for his promise of eternal life and His faithfulness through this hard time in my life.  I prayed for many that are sick, those who have lost loved ones recently, and many who are battling situations in their lives.  



As we left the beautiful chapel, a sweet couple was waiting to enter.  They had both lost their spouses and remarried ten years ago and were renewing their vows.  


Being from South Carolina as well, they also shared my parents’ anniversary.  Talk about the hand of God being in this little adventure.  



As we pulled away, my dad reached over to show me that he left his “Prayers for Kristen” bracelet that he’s worn since right after I was diagnosed at the alter.  God blessed me with the best parents that have stood beside me daily.  

This time was so ever so special, the day before my 38th birthday.  A gorgeous sunny day with mild temperatures, in the prettiest setting, with the Holy Spirit ever so present.  It  made for  a perfect pre-birthday trip.

Knowing that He is in control, that He knows everything about us all, and that He will never remove His hand from us, in this chaotic world, leaves me with lots
of hope.  

And after visiting the Chapel of Hope today, my life is just a little sweeter, living in His peace.  

If you ever have a day that you’d like to make a road trip to Trust, North Carolina, go.  


It’s a nice drive up a very windy mountain, that leads you to a little “slice of Heaven”.  

“Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”  Romans 5:5



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